What do libertarians mean when they call for market solutions?

How quickly can you explain why free-market solutions are better than what The State offers? Retweet

When a social problem rears its ugly head we post-statists, along with other libertarians and even a shrinking number of conservatives, have a ready response:

“Let the market handle it.”

That’s a pithy answer, but it causes others to wonder…

Who or what is the market?

Many people see the market as a cabal of greedy capitalist cronies looking to “screw the poor” in a social-Darwinian fashion. That’s why they prefer to have scientific experts solve social problems. They think these experts can operate without the corruption that supposedly comes from profit-seeking.

Are they right? Are they wrong? Do scientific experts experience no lust for wealth and power? Why do libertarians think the market is superior? This is my answer…

The word “market” is shorthand for an approach that features choice, competition, and crowdsourcing.

Libertarians think a competitive process with multiple innovators will be more flexible, nimble, and creative than a solitary, politicized bureaucracy can be, no matter how scientific, expert, or saintly the bureaucrats are. “Expert” bureaucrats dictate and impose their one preferred solution on everyone, whereas markets allow multiple innovators to try myriad experiments. Better yet…

In a market you only pay for the solutions you like. This makes markets more responsive than monolithic bureaucracies. Libertarians recognize that…

  • You are unique. Not everyone has the same values, tastes, or ambitions. The majority may want things one way while you want them another. Politicians offer “one-size-fits-all,’ shove-it-down-your-throat products and programs. Markets, on the other hand, cater to both social diversity and your individual desires.
  • You have far more power as a consumer than you do as voters. You might lose your fight against a malicious city hall. But you still have the option to boycott a burger joint you think gave you bad service, despite the fact that the manager both refunded your money AND gave you a replacement for the staff’s mistake.

Statists might like markets better if they understood what markets are NOT. Markets are NOT…

  • Identical to “capitalism.” Capitalism is an aspect of the market that uses savings to leverage increased production.
  • “Privatization.” Privatization too often means that a monopoly service of The State is being farmed out to a political crony.

So let’s repeat the key idea so you don’t miss it. Markets are about choice, competition, and crowdsourcing. The market is simply society itself. Now…

Which approach do you think will do a better job addressing a social problem, markets (society) or statist monopolies (politicians and bureaucrats)?

ZAP The State and have a nice day,

Jim Babka & Perry Willis
Co-creators, Zero Aggression Project

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