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The limitations of free market capitalism

It a quite simple thing to find faults with society. To look at a situation and say “something’s not right here.†And it is no more difficult to be overwhelmed by the number of situations found in the world in which such a statement can be said regarding. It becomes complicated when one tries to rectify this situation or that situation. First, how does one choose a cause? Second, the world is a complicated place. However, perhaps all these situations have something in common, a common cause if you will. If we can unearth it, then perhaps we shall be clearer in our attempts at reasonableness.

However, do not think that I am railing against “capitalism†. Far from it, in many situations free market capitalism “functions†(if "what otherwise would happen" can be called a function). For instance, if I have an extra chair and you need a chair, and you have some extra shoes and I need some shoes, then surely no one is proposing there should be a government bureaucracy needed for us to make a trade. Furthermore, I’m discussing the theory of “free market capitalism†(sometimes called libertarianism) of which no country in the world actually adheres to. Many of the limits I establish are simply taken for granted even to the hardest of the hard core capitalist, such as civil law (and the enforcement of it with police) and national defense (and offense). I go on to establish other limits as well, such as education, health care, and pollution.

“Doth the summers of mine foundations for living such a founded life. Found within the wonderings of mine mind or mindless titterings within the bosom of my thoughts. Life is independent wrought upon this coil of mortal knots. Thoughts partitioned from frets and fits of other such independent writs. And yet together these particles be in drudging through the desert sand, each a world of solitary questionings. And yet all affected by tides and waves could thus we change our sand castles ways. For though past glimmers of affections that seem such important impertinence be. And yet such infections the latter doth not seem the cure. Echo aimless contrivances into the endless chasms of disparity. In every sense a senseless jest.

“Sows and sighs and eyes and tea. Wows and whys and cries and free. We know such idle speculation through the fires of forthcoming within the fact turned fate from fabled assertions that powerless the masses over matters be.â€
- Crazed man on the street

It is of course entirely possible for an entire generation, or at least the power majority, to agree to exploit the environment, and, if they wished, exploit the “power minority†in such a way as to create the maximum possible standard of living for themselves, for the duration of their generation, after which society and the ecosystem would collapse (in the form of civil war, famine, invasion or any other or combination of such calamity). However, the individuals that caused this have died happily from natural cause and surely do not suffer the consequences. Indeed, there is nothing in logic that would have necessarily dissuaded them from this position; as in, this position is not self contradictory in any way. Intelligence is about predicting and navigating future consequences; if one never reaps a consequence, because one is dead, it cannot be said that ignoring this consequence is unintelligible. Likewise, considering these consequences and trying to affect what one deems positive things after one is dead cannot be called unintelligible either. Both courses of action are not unintelligible. There being no third possibility, it would appear that one must choose between these two general decision making frameworks.

This is the fundamental political decision which bifurcates into two schools of thought, which we generally call socialism and individualism.

Most of us, whether we call ourselves individualists or socialists , find it repugnant that anyone would act in a way that does not benefit the future, especially when the actions is especially repugnant . However, it is a very easy task when one employs self deception combined with little interest in what the far reaching consequences of one’s actions are; this latter method being a sort of preemptive self deception, as it becomes even easier to not consider something when one doesn’t consider considering it.

For instance, there was a time when pollution was equated with progress. We now know that this isn’t true; however, for the people of this time the idea was sound. Indeed, we can’t really even imagine an average person from a hundred years ago up until twenty years ago not being ecstatic about cars or factories, or at least not viewing them as necessary.

It would have taken an incredibly wise socially minded society to have employed all the new technologies of the industrial revolution with foresight, moderation, and sustainability for us to not be in such a dire position now. But we must remember the competition that existed between nations and the threat of invasion if many decades where considered rather than today and tomorrow.

What we do know is that most of those who were involved in the economic, political, and most importantly educational policies that have resulted in our situation today are dead, and the rest where taught that humanity was essentially invincible along with many outmoded ways of thinking which are difficult to forsake. If we assume that mistakes have been made in forming our infrastructure, education system, international arrangements, and our way of life in general, can we actually say that those people that lived the good life but are now dead made a mistake? Surely, it’s of no use for us to blame them now, but that is beside the point. The point being that if we now are making decisions and forming patterns and processes that future generations consider grave mistakes do we really care? This is the heart of the matter.

We know some will stop at nothing to take as much from society in every sort of cunning way they can think of. We call these people criminals. But what would we call an entire society cooperating quite well and amiably with many smiles and handshakes in an attempt to use as much resources as possible and exploit as much as possible less fortunate peoples, in every cunning way that can be thought of, regardless of the consequences, which they truly hope they won’t have to live through?

We would probably call that modern culture. And indeed, this is exactly what we would expect to happen if limits are not placed on the free market. Vis-à-vis, rendering the free market not exactly free.

As humans have existed for quite some time: if the disbanding or extreme limitation of government to the point where the government is not even aware of the sate of the nation it governs was more efficient, this would have been discovered by now.

Clearly, if government is needed at all it must be aware of the state of the nation (town, group etcetera) it attempts to govern. This condition is the precondition for any action by a government. To deny that government (by which we mean society) ever need to act would deny the need to fulfill this condition; however, would it not be wise for society to be at least aware enough to know the moment anything bad for society occurs in the free market, in hopes that a decision might be reached on what the precise nature of the error is and what society might do about?

The entire free market capitalism mode of thinking is dependent on people knowing what happiness is, and that this happiness coincides with the happiness of all present and future people, which is an incredibly bold statement that is impossible to prove and that many would say is surely not necessarily true. Clearly not everyone has the same idea of happiness, so how can two people’s pursuit of differing ideas always coincide.

Furthermore, can sustainability be upheld with this concept. Clearly, an individual or a group of individuals, no matter how big, could, if they were so inclined, garner a life style dependent on taking from society and the environment, and as long as these sources of wealth do not dissipate before these individuals pass away, is the free market capitalist truly arguing that simply the possibility of future consequences for people they don’t necessarily care about would instill an unhappiness that would lead to careful thinking about what they are doing?

It would seem to me that, assuming the majority of people actually do care about events far after their gone then some sort of cooperative would have to be in place to impede those who would exploit the less fortunate and or the land.

The theory also assumes that, assuming people know what happiness is, and how to attain it, that they will always act to bring this about maximally efficiently, which, based on experience, is clearly not the case as I have many times witnessed others or myself doing very foolish and shortsighted things.

And yet among all these audacious and risky assumption, the absurdity of free market capitalism lies even deeper in a deeper depth of naivety. For, though it is conceivable that a group of people, through competition, will work out the most efficient economic system, there is no reason to believe they will work out an efficient, much less maximally efficient, economic system that continues to be so after the death of this group of people, as we have already stated; however, the laws of economy may actually demand it in a free market system.

For, any venture of undertaking that doesn’t take into account long term consequences we can assume will have a higher return in the short run. Thus, any unsustainable endeavor will come to dominate the market.

Thus it is not the burden of corporations but up to society whether or not to leave, or not leave, functioning social and environmental systems after one’s death is not deducible from any universal axioms, both can form equally sound logical systems of reasoning. For, what do I care what happens after I’m dead? I’m dead. But then again, what meaning would my life have.

The purpose of this essay is to help clear up any confusion about which system of reasoning a given individual employs. Specifically, clear up confusion surrounding free market capitalism with respect to those that believe in society whole heartedly yet also believe in free market capitalism whole heartedly. My thesis being that it takes dedication to thinking to understand the far reaching implications of a decision, and this resolution in thought is proof of a deeper consideration of society. Claiming one is a socialist or cares for humanity is perhaps too often simply an experiment in individualistic decadence and the manifestation of a deeper confusion. However, let us not fall victim to the catch phrases, moral platitudes, and the fashionable causes of the day. Let us dare to think. Let us imagine.

Let us think of a very simple arrangement where relations may come to the fore. Let us imagine a society of immortals. For we immediately see that in such case the predictions of free market capitalism are absolutely true. For, all actions are reciprocated to the fullest extent on the actor: to gain transcendental gain at the loss of society is to eventually share in that consequence to society to the fullest extent. For, though one can get to the top of society, one cannot go beyond the top of society without improvement of that society. Thus if one detracts to society to get to the top, after a sufficient amount of time that detraction would accumulate to the point that it would have been better to add to society and remain near the bottom.

Take theft. In this society if every individual resorted to theft to increase immediate wealth the objects associated with this society would simply go round and round; inefficient because non necessary effort must be expended to steal and to protect what one has stolen and so no one in society is “making†anything new or “learning†anything new (other than theft associated things). If we imagine the objects in this society are still bound by the second law of thermodynamics (although the people of this society we have defined as not being so), then eventually all the objects worth stealing will degrade into objects not worth stealing until everyone has the worst possible life style we could imagine immortals having.

Thus we see that if everyone cooperates to build new things and increase understanding, then eventually everyone has more than could have possibly been obtained through ruthless competition.

If we can assume a certain actions are efficient in this case then it may suggest, though surely does not prove, their validity in the mortal coil.

For we are indeed not immortal, and we can indeed affect consequences that will only manifest after our death. It is certainly clear that in our world theft can lead to a far superior life style, under certain definitions of superior, than could possibly be obtained by cooperating with society in the short term; and when we consider one’s life in comparison with human history, one’s life is sufficiently short term to make the prospect of theft alluring and, if one is good, a reasonable and prosperous career path.

Let us generalize these concepts and apply it to relevant problems.

The limits of free market capitalism:
General case one: the most general case
If at any time some decision making force that has “some power to affect something†within the market decides to use this power to affect something in a way which is bad for society, then it would be in societies best interest to intervene out of societies best interest. Whether it was rational for this decision making force to affect something in such a negative way is irrelevant.

General case two: the less general case
Anytime consequences of an action are manifest beyond the life expectancy of the individual actor of this action, then it is not unreasonable for this individual to disregard such consequences. Thus, what is reasonable from the individuals perspective is not necessarily reasonable from the perspective of society.

All these finding are very strange since society, when we think of it as large ongoing thing, is composed of individuals. The next question to ask is are these general limits to free market capitalism being surpassed? The answer the answer seems to be yes. Things happen all the time that are bad for society but good for some individual or group. The news is ripe with such occurrences, and many are infuriated to the point of throwing themselves against the wall. But let us not lose our heads, let us think clearly. What are the general places in society where people, simply fending for themselves, will not necessarily lead to infinite improvement and happiness for everyone.

However, regardless of one’s opinion about the state of the world, in a purely logical stand point all we have established so far is that society should at least be aware of what is going on, at least be aware of the ways in which society may identify any instance where the interests of society are being damaged, and finally be aware of the various methods of interfering in what would otherwise happen. I would like to stress that at this point we cannot yet have an opinion on how much interference is wise to occur.

After diligent consideration, the major sectors of society where disagreeable occurrences may occur with the wanton use of free market capitalism would seem: education, pollution, defense, infrastructure, health, justice, monopolies, and poverty. These are the most familiar where consequences are extremely long term things, which after careful thought one realizes will probably not produce highly beneficial long term results through the free market, specifically, and most importantly, education. I discuss them each in depth in their own essays: “The limits of free market education†, “The free market and pollution†, “The limits of free market national defense†, “The limits of free market infrastructure†, “The limits of free market health†,


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