"Free Market" Spotting

One of the reasons I think we libertarians might be missing opportunities for outreach with the Left and overstating them with the Right is that each group seems to think that the "free market" means the current economic system. For example:

“We drank the Kool-Aid,” said Jane Bryant Quinn, personal finance columnist for Bloomberg and Newsweek. “We believed that free markets were the best kind [of markets].” She said it had become “unfashionable” over the last three decades to write about regulation, so they didn’t.

The fault is not entirely ours. As you can see, the typical Educated Person generally seems to think that whatever level of freedom we have in the economy (40%?) is the absolute high end, and that the only direction for movement is towards less of it.

She continues: “We could say things were risky … but we never said ‘Where’s the Fed?’”

In the library, with the candlestick.

Via Clusterstock

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OPEC is an example of a free market?

Under a Libertarian free market the California electric companies would have been free to run up the spot price as they did a few years ago. The theory is that the market sooner or later would have come up with an alternative energy source. Libertarian economics doesn't seem to consider the problem of lag time.

100 years ago Standard Oil cornered about 80% of the oil production and distribution and ran the smaller owners out of business by controlling railroad tariffs until Congress broke them up. Rockefeller was real "Libertarian." Then there was US Steel . . . .

I don't have a solution. You find the solution to human greed and the economics problem will resolve itself.

Not an example

OPEC is an example of a free market?

No, as is already apparent from the name:

Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries

Under a Libertarian free market the California electric companies would have been free to run up the spot price as they did a few years ago.

Under a free market competition would have kept them in check as it does in other industries. An example of a close to free market sector is PC laptops, where companies are under constant pressure from their competitors to keep their prices down and their quality up. Some of the recent netbooks are very impressive in this respect.

The theory is that the market sooner or later would have come up with an alternative energy source.

No, that is not "the theory". That is one possible scenario, of course.

Libertarian economics doesn't seem to consider the problem of lag time.

So you conclude, but as I have pointed out the premises are false, which renders the conclusion suspect.

Libertarians, as I have mentioned in the past, have quite a different take from yours on the history of anti-trust.