Government vs. Markets

Ray Cromwell rcromw1 at
Wed Oct 5 18:23:31 PDT 1994


Mark Chen writes:
> I wasn't sure whether to respond to this message, or your other one,
> which admonished that this is off-topic.

> nelson at crynwr.dom writes:
> > It's any organization that is allowed to have a monopoly on legitimate
> > coercion.  When the IRA collects taxes, and provides protection,
> > that's thuggery.  When the British Government does the same thing,
> > that's perfectly fine.  <cough!>

> And within the scope of their operations - among their employees -
> corporations have a monopoly on the means of economic coercion
> (forgive me if I omit your editorial use of the word "legitimate").
> They have exclusive control over livelihoods.

    What is "economic coercion"?  Within the scope of schools,
teachers have a "monopoly" on the means of educational coercion. Within
the scope of church, preachers have a "monopoly" on the means of religious
coercion. Within the scope of the home, parents have a "monopoly" on
the means of parental coercion. Are you seriously suggesting
that any of these structures even compare to a government? Do you
know what a monopoly is? You analogy doesn't hold water. It's like
saying "within the scope of the people who patronize my store, I have
a monopoly." Typical of socialists, they are unfamilar with economics
and resort to semantic games. A monopoly is defined by (1) one seller, 
many buyers, and (2) restriction on entry.  Unless a corporation
has a monopoly on its market, it exists within a job market
as one of many sellers. So unless your skills are very specialized
and *only* that corporation supplies jobs needing that skill,
in no sense does a corporation have exclusive control over livelihoods.
However, specializing in a skill that not many people want to buy is
as much your fault anyway. Finally, one doesn't have to work for
a corporation anyway, it's a red herring. There are 4 million 
corporations in this country but 14 million small businesses.

  Trying to let governments off the hook because one can "move
elsewhere" doesn't let them off the hook. For one thing, it ignores
the fact that some governments *prevent* you from moving elsewhere
(whereas, no corporation in a free market has the legal authority to
stop you from quitting).  Secondly, it ignores the transaction cost
differences between switching jobs and switching countries. Third,
barrier to entry is extraordinarily high -- try starting your own
government vs starting your own corporation. Finally, there are
19 million businesses in this country to choose from, whereas
there are only a handful of countries to move to. Governments have
an oligopoly on countries.

> >    In either case, how are corporations different from governments?
> > 
> > In the main, corporations persuade and governments force.

> So maquiladora workers are "persuaded" to work twelve hours a day for
> fifteen cents an hour.  Salvadoran workers are "persuaded" (at

   I thought it was 49 cents an hour, however, no one ever accused
a socialist knowing the facts. BTW, what's the cost of living
in maquiladora. You know that comparing wages between different
areas without purchasing power corrections is nonsense, don't you?

> gunpoint) to contribute to the welfare of their latifundista
> benefactors for either a handful of beans or nothing at all.

   If they're forced via guns, it isn't exactly a free market isn't it?
Actually, it sounds like state socialism.

> Similarly, I am "persuaded" to contribute my labor to the designs of
> my employer - truly, because if I don't like it, I can leave.

   Then why don't you? What's stopping you from working for yourself? 
If you don't like the services your employer is providing you
(workplace, tools, investment management, capital contributions, etc)
and you don't have the ambition or skills to work for yourself, stop
whining. If you have any computer skills at all, you can work for yourself
without a large amount of capital. My sister got her CS and degree,
did some consulting for a consulting firm, and after she aquired
the skills, she quit and started doing her own consulting. She now
works from home. In most small businesses, the workers are near
partners with the management (and often earn equivalent wages)

> Perhaps your will elaborate your assertion.

  Simple: businesses are not governments. There is very little common
ground between them. Governments operate by force alone, governments
can prevent you from leaving, a business in a free market can't. 
You can found your own business, you can't found your own government.
Businesses operate by selling products to people who voluntarily
buy them. Governments operate by stealing your money at gunpoint.

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