Market forces

Wouldn’t have given you the Internet.

Market forces. It seems to be the key expression of the last 15 years. But we need to consider what it would have provided us.

Market forces wouldn’t have given us The Sydney Opera House. It wouldn’t have given us the Internet. It wouldn’t have given us a public education system, clean water, electricity, gas, the telephone system, roads, parks, public transport, the police, hospitals, ambulances or, my favourite, the sewage system.

But wait, I hear you say. You didn’t go to a public school in Australia, you went to a private school. Well, almost all private schools in Australia were started by the various Churches. And not as a response to provide a service based on market demand, but as a service to the people. The investment in education takes a lot more than the accountants 3 years to provide a return in the investment. (Mind you, so does raising children.)

And the water isn’t clean enough to drink, the roads are a mess and the trains! Don’t even talk about the trains. No, they aren’t great but under private enterprise those systems wouldn’t have even been built.

Take for example public transport. In Los Angles many, many years ago they had a really good public transport system. Buses, trams, the works. But the systems were bought out by oil companies and run into the ground. Then the oil companies used the lack of good public transport to convince the government to build a better road network for private cars. And look where they are now. (If you don’t believe me, watch Who Framed Roger Rabbit again, it’s the main underlying theme.)

What would market forces have given us, if unchecked? Probably a large polluting factory next to your house. Water at 100 times the current cost. No education system. No hospitals near your house. Probably not even a phone line to your door. And a private police force, for those who can afford it. Maybe people rich need to be poor for a while before they are allowed to be rich, and then constant reminders of what it was like.

A system based purely on market forces would provide bland, boring content for television, movies, music and books. And it wouldn’t provide meaning to out lives. You can’t put a value on that. And if you don’t think that’s important then you’re missing something.

You may be wondering why I feel like this now, well, it’s something that’s been building up a lot recently. The books I’ve read, the movies I’ve watched and the things that are happening over here. I read Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano. Go read that, it does a much better job than I can do.

Market forces should give you what you want. The government should give you what you need.

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