Free Market Capitalism is Inherently Progressive

Wait. What the hell are we smoking here at Happycrow’s Eyeball Factory?

That’s some good shit, right?

Well, actually, we’re not high. And we do mean it.

Free Market Capitalism is Inherently Progressive. The Regulatory State is Inherently Regressive.

Remember a week ago we said that Progressives and Libertarians should be allies?  Well, this is why.  At our best, both camps fight a long, slow, tooth-and-nail campaign against the Elites who institute policies seemingly designed to exploit and impoverish all who are not the wealthiest, best-connected, and most powerful.

We don’t really have a free-market economy. We have a heavily-regulated one.

Now, the caveat: so long as we have public property, we must have regulations.

So long as we wish to avoid certain kinds of exploitation, we must have regulations. Two easy examples:

1. The Free Market cannot handle public property well, and thus has a very hard time handling pollution issues. So long as we keep up “public property” which nobody owns and can therefore protect legally on their own, environmental regulations are required.

2. Worker’s Comp issues are very, very real.

But these regulations must be few, far between, and light in scope. Otherwise, the hands which are meant to help, strangle instead. Even the two above examples can and have been “weaponized,” because Elites don’t think of laws as rules. Elites think of laws as tools. And not surprisingly, they wield those tools for their own benefit.

Ever notice that the really big environmental advocates in the political class tend to be married to big-time real-estate developers? That’s not an accident. Limiting growth also makes currently-existing developed property more valuable. A LOT more valuable. Every time you hear some politician spouting off about keeping sprawl at bay… follow the money. Chances are, a little chime is singing “cha-ching!” with every new law.

So let’s take this one as it comes.

The Free Market doesn’t do these things. Because by definition, it cannot compel. So a balance needs to be struck. That said, Progressives should understand that they are already champions of the free market. They just… don’t seem to know it yet.

1.  Free Markets cannot compel use of services or products.  In a free market, you can get a ride on Uber, or a competitor to Uber. You can rent a room with AirBnB, not a statutorily-acceptable, highly-regulated, and therefore more-expensive hotel room.

Airline competition? Yeah, we’ll get back to you on that. Once we’re done losing your luggage and cancelling your mysteriously-overbooked flight.

2. A free market doesn’t allow monopolies. The regulatory state may give a single phone, cable, and internet company a monopoly in an area. Free enterprise gives you choices, and works to undermine monopolies whenever possible. The monopolies fight back by getting politicians to write vast swarms of regulations that are so complex that only big companies and the elites who control them can afford to play the game.

Any wonder why people are ditching cable left and right, with them offering the finest customer service an uncaring monopoly can provide?

3. The free market does not make innovating illegal.  A bewildering amount of regulatory law exists for the sole purpose of using “Safety” as a club with which to make it nearly impossible to come into an industry and try to come up with less expensive ways of doing things.  The Construction industry is one of the worst for this.  Construction industry meetings all start with safety, and all end with hours of thinking about how to force out competitors from entering into the business.

Illegal everywhere entrenched businesses hate competition. And sanity.

4.  The Free Market doesn’t give a crap who you are. Illegal immigrant? Teen with an awesome idea?  It doesn’t care. It cares only about whether the idea is good, and is willing to give that idea a shot at failing or succeeding.

5.  The Free Market expands opportunity, and eliminates barriers to entry.  Gigantic well-connected, politically powerful too-big-to-fail elite banking behemoth won’t lend you the money you need to start up some really cool idea?  Maybe even an idea that’ll never really repay an investor, but which everybody with a soul can look at and say “that’s a really good idea, we should find some way to fund that?”

Well, how about THESE GUYS?

6.  The Free Market is all about cooperation, not just competition.  And it mandates that those who want to provide a solution, service, or product keep close to the people they serve.  If they don’t…. they’re gone.

The free (farmer’s) market. Brought to you week after tasty week.

Libertarians and Progressives will disagree about how much regulation is needed, and where, and when, and why a given piece of regulation should be repealed.  That’s natural. Progressives use the state and are willing to compel behavior; libertarians aren’t.  But make no mistake:  where the free market is concerned, we’re reading from the exact same page.

Both groups are all about discovering the best ways for us to serve one another.


Lessons of History: The “Sick Industries”

Can’t tell you how often, as a history grad student, I heard “Get a law degree, it’s safe.”


Now we have Legalzoom. Now we have automated text search.

This is normal. It’s the way the Market works.

Aside: No, you don’t hate the market.  You’re just constantly exposed to a bullshit definition of it.  The Market isn’t Wall Street and all that crony-capitalist bullshit.

It’s just a word used as a shorthand for the results of choosing whether we want a hamburger, a taco, or a packed bag from home for lunch, multiplied by the literally trillions of said choices per day in the US alone. This is why central planning fails — nobody can keep track of all those decisions in real-time, since by definition, all reports tell you about “past things not current things.” More importantly, no science-fiction report involving the real-time aggregation of all decisions, can tell you why each choice is being made the way it is…because one would then have to report on the context of each and every decision. You need a special product for that, which nobody’s invented yet: it’s called omniscience.

                                                   I got this, Adam. Where you want the file?

So. Back to Law School.

Big Law is in deep shit.  The era in which one could bill $200/hr for Mark1-A1 eyeballs to go through text for the “Discovery” portion of a suit isn’t over yet…but it’s getting closer and closer to the era where one won’t have to pass the Bar Exam in order to do all kinds of things that require a lawyer to do today.  Those who are very good, who are “scholars of the law,” will continue to do well.  Those who are essentially functionaries, on the other hand, are screwed.

Any industry with high profits becomes vulnerable to somebody who wants to take those profits away by giving people access to those same services more cheaply. Yesterday’s safe-and-sure-thing industries become tomorrow’s dogfood, because there’s an incentive: people want the service, but they can’t afford to pay past a certain point to get it.

Very few are really interested in chasing that bony gazelle, but a big old fattened cow gets a lot of attention. And it doesn’t run very fast.

We at Chez Happycrow prefer our eyeballs, but we note that pet dogs eat better than lions, and for less work.   Great job, if you don’t mind being a pet dog.

Yesterday’s unshakeable behemoths are looking less Tyrannosaur, and more Sclerotic Gimpy Diplodocus. They just can’t maneuver quickly enough to keep their meat, and worse yet, Utah Raptors keep feeding off them just by zooming by and shaving off chunks of meat as they go.

A Utah Raptor flexing its stylish urban toe-claws.

Newspapers? Sick industry. I get my news online. Can newspapers transition successfully? Many haven’t, and more won’t.

Healthcare? Sick industry. (Sure, we need healthcare – but the woo employment side of healthcare relies upon the government effectively creating monopolies in healthcare provision. Vast amounts of the cost of healthcare have little or nothing to do with actually getting you better, and no, neither party’s dealings with the ACA were helpful or productive.)

Education?  VERY FUCKING SICK industry. It’s not merely as bad as the fact that many universities are operating according to a guild structure inherited from the 14th century. No, it’s worse than that. Many universities are essentially machines for endowing sinecures which do not even regard students as their customers. Meanwhile, much of what’s on offer actually deprioritizes the classroom. Universities are a great place to learn to think, but unless you’re engaged in a very good and very rigorous professional program, they’re a terrible place to learn how to earn a living.

Programming? Not a sick industry yet. But the era of explosive coding growth with coders being able to simply write their own ticket is over. More and more employers are looking at specialists with exceptional suites of qualifications and achievement.

Fast-Food? Sick industry. Most of your jobs can be performed, and performed better, by robots. Employers would prefer to give them to marginally-employable humans, some of whom will grow up into managerial tasks and all of whom are better for socializing than Hal9000 is…but the writing’s on the wall.

It’s not just the public bemoaning of the Rise of the Robots. Any task which can be turned into an algorithm or flowchart will be turned into an algorithm. I do it at my job every day – it’s why it takes me a third the time to produce similar work as it does some of my coworkers. There’s even a traditional phrase for it.

“A craftsman builds something by hand one time. The second time, he makes a jig.”

Jig: a machine designed to de-skill a given task and take the heavy thinking out of the process.

Craftsmen have been doing this forever.  Those beautiful muskets we used in the War of 1812? Factory-made.

The Powers That Be have bottled up a lot of these industries for a long time. But eventually the bubble will burst and technology will emancipate these sectors.

The results are going to absolutely and totally rock…so long as you’re not deeply invested in being a Diplodocus.

Yessss, my young adjunct professor, I will retire soon, and then there will be jobs for you!

Run, adjunct professor, run!

It will never get any better than it is today.

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