In the most rudimentary sense of the word, what connotations flash in your mind when you hear the word “market”? In mine, it’s an African image of a boisterous, crowded legion of booths lined up on end, with tarps as roofs, makeshift benches as tables, and all sorts of perishable and non-perishable goods strewn for hundreds of yards, available for whoever may pass, and all the while, each vendor hopes that he may find the fortunate opportunity to exchange his value for the value of payment. In one moment, the vendor selling sweet potatoes may in the next moment become the customer purchasing sweet potato plants from his neighboring booth, and the next passerby is on the hunt for bubble wrap to encase his ceramic pottery so that he himself can best suit his own customer. This, in the most basic of descriptions, is a free market.
A free market, aside from the indispensable, fundamental building block of the nucleus family, is arguably THE most crucial foundation to any functional society. It is at the core of such a society that one party’s needs become the other party’s opportunity to provide value to meet that need. It is, in fact, the reciprocity amongst innumerable private citizens, who each specialize in a specific set of skills, service, or production of goods, that literally make our world go around. One man is free to peddle his goods or services to another, and vice versa. Both parties come to an agreement of what is fair and valuable consideration which settles the transaction. Thus, we have one of the foundational principles of economics.
It is when a third party is ushered in artificially that the free market devolves into something of a hybrid…part free, part controlled…market. Or then again, is it? How can there be a partially free market? Is this possible? What occurs when an artificial, uninvited party inserts himself into the middle of a transaction to dictate what he believes to be the fair grounds by which the transaction must occur? This is what occurs: instead of allowing the buyer and seller to determine their own terms of the transaction, we now have another entity which has essentially imposed itself from without, upon the pre-existing relationship between said buyer and seller, to influence the outcome of the transaction, including the net profits realized, and what can even be sold or offered at all.
This third party was just that…a third party. It was not invited to the table to negotiate any terms whatsoever in the transaction, as simple as it may have been. It matters not. The principle that a third party is uninvited is by definition why this is no longer known as a free transaction.
But…what about regulation? Who will make sure that the buyer and seller settle the transaction on fair terms? Who will ensure that the buyer is not utilizing unfair or unethical measures of quantity or quality? Who determines that the goods sold were manufactured in a safe manner that is sustaining to the environment? Who is watching out to guarantee that those who do not have any goods to sell may also benefit from this transaction? What about those buyers who have no valuable consideration or currency by which to procure goods?
Therein lies the problem. None of these other “who’s” were ever invited to the table. This is a private transaction between two parties already acquainted…between which a bond of trust is in place, and therefore the two parties are self-governed in their dealings. It is not the responsibility of the mysterious “who” to invite himself to the table to decree what is and is not permitted. Nor is it the privilege of a buyer who has no currency with which to buy to come to the table either to help himself to another man’s possessions.
Eventually, after enough transactions occur, in this free market, will not somebody be defrauded and taken advantage of? Will not the shrewd and wise transactioneers continue to increase their profits and rise to the top and thus begin to enter into agreements with other vendors so as to employ their services in exchange for payment to them? Of course. It is the natural development of an economy.
What will happen to the buyers who were defrauded and sold goods that were rotten or devoid of value? It depends. In a free market, these buyers freely entered into an agreement with the seller to procure the goods or services, and upon being taken advantage of, there is now a choice and responsibility incumbent upon these buyers to go back to these fraudulent sellers to demand a return of payment, AND furthermore to promise to these sellers that the buyer cannot in good faith recommend this seller any longer, but in fact dis-recommend him. Thus eventually, the seller will either no longer be profitable and must relocate, or he will change his ways because the going norm is that people are generally trusting of others’ word and thus steer clear of the dishonest dealings of fraudulent and unscrupulous citizens. But let not the virtue of trust be diluted into a maze of bureaucratic nightmares, where we no longer know the honest from the dishonest, simply because we have become so accustomed to a third party seating himself at our table of transactions, hoping that this third party will take care of me the buyer and you the seller, to ensure a fair transaction is dealt.
Whoever gave this third party the authority and wherewithal to insert itself upon us? Is it not within reasonable exercise of freedom for one man to enter into a contract with another man on his own accord without the permission of a third, unknown party? How does a man know if this third party is in and of itself not a crooked criminal? Is there not a higher authority to appeal to who can oust this criminal?
I submit that the third party is none other than our government as we know it today. Rather than functioning as it was created, by the people, for the people, it now has devolved into an overreaching, uninvited alien third party entirely to the vast majority of private transactions that occur every day in our world. Thus, for many years, we have not had a free market, but an artificial one, which is not only controlled in nature, but propped up by a system of monetary value which holds no intrinsic worth, other than that in which its own people muster in confidence in it.