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What Social Animals Owe to Each Other

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Free or Not Free? Make Up Your Mind, WSJ

The Wall Street Journal ($ site), in an otherwise good editorial today about price gouging for gasoline, commits an act of what Kevin Carson calls "vulgar libertarianism":
But in the marketplace with prices set free of government intervention, the sales price is established through a transaction of a willing buyer and a willing seller.
Isn't the Journal most days telling us that the U.S. economy is not free of government intervention? As the editorial says later on:
The irony here is that if there is any extortion or swindling going on in the oil marketplace, Congress is the guilty party. It is Congress that ordered service stations across America to switch last month to ethanol additives that have both raised prices at the pump and exacerbated shortages in recent weeks. It is Congress and state governments that take 59 cents a gallon on average of fuel taxes at the pump -- almost six times the average of 10 cents per gallon profit that the oil companies make.
Then there are all those cartelizing regs, taxes, and subsidies, which constitute legal barriers to entry to any new competitor. You get the idea. It's hardly a free market. But, obviously, that doesn't mean the solution is more regs, taxes, and subsidies.

1 comment:

Kevin Carson said...

Thanks for the link.

I believe "the marketplace with prices set free of government regulation" exists in the same universe as Bearded Spock.