People often confuse the free market with economic systems. The free market is “not” the same thing as “free enterprise (capitalism)”, “group enterprise (technically syndicalism)” or “socialism (government owned and controlled enterprise)”. These are just means to the production of goods and services for sale. The free market is the sale of goods and services to consumers in return for money (or what passes for money). A true free market is devoid of regulation except to control fraud or attempts to “deceive” the consumer which itself is a form of fraud. Any additional regulation makes the market less “free” than what it would be otherwise. Reduces the freedom of the consumer to make economic decisions that are freely based upon what they consider best for themselves. Once regulation is introduced, the freedom of the consumer is reduced accordingly. This is true even if the regulation in question is thought to be of benefit to the consumer. What is forgotten here is that the consumer may sometimes find it necessary to expose themselves to some risk. This is especially true when it comes to their own health care. Medicines do have “side effects” that have to be taken into consideration. However one might “tolerate” certain side effects in order to gain the greater benefit from taking the medicine. For this reason the FDA should not be the final arbiter as to what medicines people are allowed to buy and use. Naturally drug company that conceals adverse side effects is legally liable for what does happen to those consumers who use the product in question.
It will be argued here that “regulation” is necessary because otherwise the producers of goods and services will defraud the consumer with inferior and sometimes hazardous goods. That without the FDA we will go back to the “snake oil” medicines of the past, our food will be unsafe to eat, and no one will know whether or not the products they buy are in fact safe to use. We’ll have environmental pollution, poisoned land, much as can be found there where the Soviet Union once ruled. The Communists having had little if any concern of the long term consequences of their industrial policies. Or the low quality of the items produced, “worse” some will say than what will be now found anywhere else.*
*As we had to rely upon the Russians for transport to the Space Station, one wonders…
Oddly enough, even with the regulation we have, we still get sick at times from food that is contaminated with disease producing bacteria or viruses. Our automobiles despite all the government regulation still have manufacturing defects that sometimes kill people. Doesn’t really look like all this regulation has really done all that much good, does it? It does add additional cost, however. However most businesses are deterred from selling known harmful products because of legal liability. Because of this, most businesses do actually take precautions against possibly harming those who consume their products.
Another issue here with “government regulation” is that a government agency decides for itself what is to be produced and what is not to be produced. It appears that sometimes corporate interests are able to “covert” government agencies into a method of keeping any who might compete with them from being able to do so. Ever notice that today you cannot buy a VCR with a tuner capable of converting digital to analog so that you can record the TV shows you might like to record? If you will check eBay, you will see that people are in fact selling used machines for more than what these sold for brand new! So why isn’t anyone today building new VCR’s capable of recording TV shows. Nor for that matter do you see DVD recorders that could do the same thing? Yes, you can buy an (expensive) DVR-DVD recorder ($300 at Amazon) to do this. Or “rent” such a device from your cable or satellite provider. Curious isn’t it how something once popular no longer exists. You can buy a VCR-DVD machine without a tuner, but it is designed to require that you use the more expensive converter box to connect it up. Obviously the “demand” is there, but it appears that something has happened to make it increasingly difficult/expensive to record TV shows. It’s not a matter of copyright either, as the cable companies and the satellite companies will “rent” you a DVR. Obviously political “pressure” has been applied…
This sort of problems comes about once we started allowing the government to decide what we are allowed to buy and what we are not allowed to buy. This goes back a century or more when the American people allowed the government to pass laws regarding what you could buy and what you could not buy. Note these laws were not about fraud or any sort of action that harmed people. As first the laws applied to certain drugs, mostly those in the narcotics family. Then marijuana (a product of a certain type of hemp plant) was outlawed despite the fact that it did not appear to cause harm. This was followed by the idea of the prohibition of the drinking of alcoholic beverages. Then in 1938 the AMA got the FDA to grant doctors a monopoly over access to medical drugs. Of course this did create problems as it increased the cost of health care. But for doctors, it was effectively about as close as a “license to print money” as anything. Just as government regulation gave the legal profession monopoly status over legal matters. For a minority of people, government is a benefactor, but for the rest of us, not so much…*
* In a previous post I have shown that the same amount of money that is collected by the payroll tax would actually create greater benefits if it was allowed to be invested instead. The same thing is true in health care. Better service for less money without “government”.
BTW my email address is “firstname.lastname@example.org” for those who wish to write me.