In my essay "The
" I argued that authoritarian philosophies of economics argue they want to impose "rational" solutions on the economy, want to remove "inefficiencies" and "flaws", but in reality, as preferences are non-rational and arbitrary, tall they do is impose one person's personal preferences on everyone else.
For example, all those who argue for the FairTax say it is good because it discourages spending, and that is good as w ehave "too little" investment and savings. However, how can one establish hits? What is the right level of savings and investment? The choice between consumption and investment is based upon preferences, the benefits of current consumption, based upon desires and what goods are available and at what price, versus one's tolerance for delayed gratification, and the likely return on investment. It is a complex web of calculations, but one each individual performs constantly, and that cannot be said to be rational or irrational, or, rather, one that can be said to be rational or irrational only in terms of how well it conforms to that individual's preferences, not in any absolute sense.
Similarly, laws against "price gouging", or "predatory pricing" or a host of other supposed economic ills show nothing more than the total economic ignorance of the partisans. Prices conform tot eh market forces, or else those setting the prices suffer, as they either lose potential profits, or have goods left unsold. Prices are not arbitrary. Yes, scarcity causes prices to rise, sometiems dramatically, and so, sadly, during disasters good are more expensive. But as I explained in "The Difference Between Public and Private, Or, The Real Monopolies and Cartels
", "Saving Us From Lower Prices
" and "Put
Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, Or The Logical Implications of Price
and Its Consequences
" that is a good thing, as otherwise the first buyers would empty the shop and everyone else would do without, not to mention that higher prices speed additional goods to the disaster zone. Calling that "gouging" is just showing one's unhappiness with prices he finds unpleasant. Likewise, complaints about "windfall profits" show nothing but envy over an opportunity someone missed. ("Envy Kills
", "Envy Kills II
", "Envy And Analogy
From the links above, and more in the postscript, it is clear I have covered this topic quite well. So why mention it again?
Because, today, while idly reading commentary on video games (as designing such games is one of my hobbies, along with more practical programming, historical reading, learning new languages and fiction writing) I found what has to be one of the most absurd, but telling, articles ever
I have not played Mass Effect 3, in fact I have somehow managed to miss the whole Mass Effect series, and so I do not know what the hubbub is about, but apparently the ending is disappointing many fans. (I recall a similar, but smaller, brouhaha about the rushed, and incomplete, ending to Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II.) What makes it interesting is that it has gone beyond the angry geek storm on chat boards, with the usual threats of geek boycott, and instead has moved to at least one foolish fan complaining to the FTC.
Of course, anyone can complain, so that says nothing. What is interesting is that his complaint could actually support and FTC action. You see, what he is alleging is that BioWare made many promises with regard to the game's ending, and then failed to deliver. As such "promises" can be seen as advertising, then there is every possibility, if they wished, the FTC could pursue some sort of false advertising charges. I don't see it happening, the geek constituency is too small to make this a career making case, and without that attraction the case is too weak to pursue, but that fact that it could happen is telling.
And that is what I found fascinating. In this case, it is very clear that government "protection" here is nothing of the kind. There is no harm being remedied, not objective damage, no lies, no misrepresentation. All we have is a product which disappointed consumers. And yet, should it wish, the government could easily fine that seller just because consumers didn't like the end result.
Do we need any more evidence to prove, as von Mises declared, that socialism is nothing but the embodiment of petty resentments, or my claim that all authoritarian systems amount to nothing more than an attempt to reshape the world to fit one's own prejudices?
I have written far too many posts on this topic to list here. I would recommend, as a starting point the posts "Who Will Decide
", "How To Blame the Free Market
", "Government Quackery
", "Government Efficiency
", "A New Look At Intervention
", "Fairness and the Free Market
", "The Life Coach Culture
", "High Cost of Medical Care
", "Clarification of My Argument for a Free Market in Medicine
", "Cost Conscious Medicine
", "Fear of Trade
", "Exploiting Workers?
", "Clarifying a Reality of Capitalism
and Its Consequences
For Me, But Not For Thee
", "The Triumph of Good
Examples of "Inefficiency" in Capitalism
", "The Threat of Perfection
of Bureaucratic Management in Government Enterprises
Management and Self-Policing
", "Redundancy as a Protective Measure
", "The Importance of Error
of Government Redistribution
", "Canada, Subsidies, The Free Market and Intractible Reality
Really Foolish Idea
Little More On CEO Salaries
", "The Role of Dissatisfaction
" and "Pro Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc
By the way, please do not take my discussion of hobbies as some form of internet boasting. I often laugh at all the "internationally known experts" on-line of whom I have never heard. Of those whoa re supposedly famous in fields in which I am involved, who are absolutely unknown to me. I do design games as a hobby, as well as writing fiction and programming operating systems, various computer utilities and new programming languages, but I am not making any money from such things, nor am I known at all for doing so. I simply enjoy these activities and so indulge in them when I have spare time. (Not that often thanks to a seven year old boy.) Like this blog, and my occasional non-fiction writing on history, philosophy or economics, the purpose of such things is to amuse myself, and maybe inform a handful of friends and acquaintances who read them, and nothing more. I am far from a world renowned anything. And if I am an expert, I don't know it, and continue to profess my amateur status in all those fields I find fascinating.
I just wanted to make clear I am not trying to boast in any way. Especially as I find the myriad online braggarts so annoying.