Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Nasty market forces

It seems to be a day for denigrating the free choice of free people.

While Timmy points out some musical snobbery posing as progressive thought, I notice the newly returned Pub Philosopher saying this:

While [the sale of their stories by the former Iranian hostages] may seem sordid, isn't it simply the operation of the market forces that we have been told are so good for us?
Well, no, in a word. The subsequent bidding might well be a market in action, but the decision to let them sell in the first place was a breach of precedent and required the specific permission of the MoD:
The ministry said it had waived rules barring serving military personnel from selling their stories because of huge public interest in the case. "These are considered to be exceptional circumstances," a ministry spokeswoman said.
The MoD had this right of veto because it has a (freely entered into by all parties) contract with the people involved and, out of interest, free markets require effective contract law if they are to operate properly. In this case, though, the relevance is to the job market wherein people can choose whether or not to accept the restrictions placed on a particular job offer. A non-free market in military service is called conscription, and free marketers tend to be opposed to conscription - perhaps most famously in the case of Milton Friedman.

For obvious reasons, information has operational value within the armed services and it is proper for it to be controlled to some degree. So the real question is, was the MoD's decision the right one? This has nothing to do with the market, and everything to do with the propaganda struggle between the UK and Iran over the events concerned.

Once the decision had been made to allow the sale to go ahead, then a market is a perfectly reasonable place for the value of the stories to be assessed. But it might have been better if a controlled flow of information was permitted, rather than a sale to media (not just newspapers, not just Murdoch either, as Trevor McDonald could testify). This is for practical reasons; as we have seen, the personal enrichment of the people involved, as a consequence of debatable actions, and not the method by which the level of that enrichment was set, has been controversial.

This leaves unanswered the question of why people make digs like this at the free market. And I really have no idea why this is.


TheFriendlyInfidel said...

This leaves unanswered the question of why people make digs like this at the free market. And I really have no idea why this is.

John, perhaps you ought to entertain the thought that they might just be a bit thick?

It a common aliment found in our fellow countryman that is often amplified by the internet.


Peter Risdon said...

Steve (Pub Philosopher) is anything but stupid. I mean it - I can't understand the reflexive dislike of aggregate free choice.

TheFriendlyInfidel said...


As you well know, you can be well educated AND stupid.

The dislike of the free market is tied up with a dislike of the modern world and is seen as a vehicle of "economic imperialism" of the world mostly by the Great Satan of modernity America.

It is therefore a Bad Thing (tm), this is like MicroSoft, they didn't help bring the computer to home, they are Evil. Or Tesco's, they aren't a efficiently run UK company, they are single handy destroying the soul of nation. The free market hasn’t lifted the aggregate living standards in the world, held back wars and promoted integration being countries, its a nasty boogey man that is the sole cause of poverty in this world.

I'm sure Steve disapproves of the child labour from foreign countries that put the shoes on his feet, but I'm also sure that he still wears them. The cheap and easy way to wash your hands of this moral guilt is to blame something beyond your control - in steps the Free Market.

You might as well not understand why you would dislike someone on their skin colour or accent.

Just call it what it is, stupidity.