What are the defining characteristics of a market? The pro-market left libertarians stress the difference between actually existing economics (and the accompanying establishment understanding of what “free market” means) and what they term “freed markets.” I’d like to put some attention on the boundaries between market and non-market, to get an understanding of what the full implications are of being under a market economy, and which of those implications will still apply after the market has been freed. To that end, I seek to find answers to certain questions.
Does an actually free market imply non-entitlement?
And whether it does or not, what are the implications of this? The benefit to workers of freed markets tend to be touted in quantitative terms—getting to keep more of one’s labor product—but doesn’t this assume that one has a labor product to begin with? I can be at peace with the idea that economic niches have to be earned, but I’m not entirely at peace with the idea that they have to be competed over. An economy that doesn’t require labor may be ideal, but for now, labor is needed, but not everyone’s labor is needed. For me, failure of inclusivity is a deal breaker. If that makes me an archist, so be it. There are “normative criteria” that I happen to believe in.
Traditionally, the entitled classes have been understood to be the nobility or landed aristocracy, but of course the right wing messaging machine has re-framed “entitlement” as the new term for safety net programs. Now it seems the entitled classes are those at the very bottom of the food chain; those so marginalized as to be rejected more often than not from even the most menial of employment.
Does successful participation in the freed market imply competition?
If not, how is market equilibrium discovered? If so, how can the losers consider themselves free? Freedom to fail I can get with right libertarianism. Again, is the difference offered by left libertarianism qualitative or quantitative? Does left libertarianism mean the lowest hanging fruit is a little lower, that the cost of living is a lot lower, or some other comparative virtue? Or is the difference between the freed market and the “free market” one of kind rather than degree?
What role does strategy play under the freed market?
What, if anything, as at the intersection of prices, information and strategy? Is there any reason, under the freed market, to play one’s cards close to the vest, so to speak? As the ad copy says, “Expedia can offer prices that airlines and hotels won’t reveal separately.” Left libertarianism, like right libertarianism, is quite adept at explaining why all the complaints people have with market transactions are actually attributable to government policy. Perhaps this includes informational shell games, package dealing and other strategies against real transparency.
I’m assuming that where markets are in play, market share is an issue. Does a worker co-op seek to expand market share? If not, why not? Zero market share implies failure. How big a niche is necessary to achieve solvency? Is solvency even a freed market issue, or just a “free market” issue? It would be helpful if someone would make a list of things truly free markets have in common with “free market” principles as advertised by the big money think tanks, and another list of putative market phenomena that are categorically not features of the truly free market, and perhaps a third list of social ills we should reliably be able to expect to be shrunken to manageable levels by the actual freeing of the markets.