Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The way we look at markets - part 1

Share |
The way people talk about markets has a big impact on our relationship to other people. Markets is synonymous with 'free markets' for many, but that is not the case. Many people equate free markets with unregulated or 'unfettered' markets. There is however a big difference in styles of government regulation. There is intervention which enables, and then there is regulation which distorts. I would argue that politicians are notoriously bad at managing money. There is a reason politicians never go broke...they are too cowardly to invest their own money, they would prefer to invest yours. That is the type of culture they are 'invested in', the safety of manipulating people in the political realm. Perhaps some of you live your life the same way. i.e. Treating the boss nice so you can rise the corporate ladder, then doing to him what he did to others.
This approach to live achieves some measure of success. It is short-sighted, concrete-bound, and does not give one much pride, but it enriches your bank balance until:
1. Your resentful, disrespectful wife takes it from you in a custody battle
2. The tax office decides you have too much and takes it from you
3. You realise that you never really enjoyed anything you did, so the money means nothing after all. Those nice cars, clothes were all just a way to pretend you had something, were something, achieved something. You are living a lie. It was always for someone else, i.e. others standards, others values, others judgement, others achievement. Where is the self-worth? You could spend a lifetime evading that question.

Why then do we want politicians managing or regulating the economy? If not them - who? The problem is not politicians per se, but how they think, and why? Our political system is the result of flawed ethics, and deeper still, a flawed theory of knowledge. We seem to accept that if a majority of people think they are right, they are entitled to place us in tyranny. That is the democratic process. Markets to some extent function the same way, but with limitations. i.e. A fiduciary duty to act in the interests of shareholders. There is no such obligation upon politicians. Well, nothing explicit anyway. Just a vague concept of 'good government'. I would love to test it if anyone cares to fund a High Court battle. Don't believe in High Courts? Yeh, me neither...not as they are structured. No accountability.

A distinction needs to be made between the types of regulation. Intervention which enables market by protecting people from force or fraud, or by establishing certain standards of practice, such as disclosure or labelling. The importance of standards is that they are objective, and not based on the arbitrary whim of stakeholders, or government. This is not the case. Government tends to look after its supporters. This turns government into a political weapon of vested interests. Who can know what is right, if right is some arbitrary position.

How superficial it is that no distinction is often made between the types of regulation. Simply all regulation is good, or all regulation is bad, or regulation is efficient or inefficient. I find it simply a matter of principle. Arbitrary impositions are indefensible and result in loopholing, and are doomed to fail. Business groups seem to fully accept the need for arbitrary intervention, and squabble over the nature of those arbitrary rules. This is where they fail.

The problem is analogous to the libertarian who has no objective philosophical basis to their desires for freedom. They are the tyrants of the future, who when we finally recognise the value of liberty, we will sell it out in a moment by having the wrong underlying philosophical values.
Andrew Sheldon

ConvinceMe.Net - Anyone up for a debate?