Sunday, March 28

Comments on unregulated capitalism

A redditor writes:
[..] unlike what seems like the entire [libertarian] reddit, I'm in no way a right-libertarian and have seen many comments which I think need some discussing.

Many of you would agree with me when I say that we need to reduce state influence in our lives. I've seen many people post about how if the government just stayed out of business and didn't place any regulations on the market the world would be such a better place (exemplified most by 'anarcho'-Capitalism). I've always wondered if any proponents of this form of society have ever read a book about history.

There was a time in history when there was practically no regulation on how people ran their companies, it was the Industrial revolution. As I would hope most of you know life wasn't so great for people during this time (unless of course you were the one exploiting workers). This is how your utopia would look, with most of society working extreme hours for barely livable wages. People won't just leave because of how they are treated by their employers, because everyone else will treat them the same.

I would love to discuss this, and pretty much any topic concerning Libertarianism/Anarchism. I'm, as some would call it, a recovering statist. I used to be a Trotskyist (communist for those who don't know) and am still having some trouble figuring out how a small/non-existent state could deal with certain issues.
To which another responds:
Nobody here ever said life was easy. All we said was brutality doesn't make it easier.

Per the Non-Aggression Principle, the burden of proof is on you to explain your stance that the government should regulate the market.

You bring up the Industrial Revolution. And I laugh at you. When you think of the Industrial Revolution, what do you think of? Do you think of young girls, barely old enough to leave home, working the mechanical loom in a noisy factory? Do you think of unskilled and uneducated men slaving away for pennies an hour to build railroads, mine coal, refine oil, and cast steel?

Good. Now you want to change that. How? Impose child labor laws - great, now children can't work anymore, so their families won't have money for food if their parents don't (or can't) take good care of them. Impose an eight-hour workday. Awesome, now their pitiful wages won't be enough to pay the rent anymore. Impose a minimum wage. Fucking fantastic - now unemployment is soaring. Impose cleanliness and safety standards. Icing on the cake - now start-up companies can't compete with the established corporations who can afford to get their capital approved by the government, thus removing all competition and ensuring that you really can't quit your job, because there aren't any other companies out there to work for.

Life is hard. Resources are scarce while demand is infinite. Everyone always wants more. The question is not "Are we going to give people everything they want?" because we can't. The question is "Are we going to use violent force to obstruct consensual transactions?"

When you think of the Industrial Revolution, what you are thinking of is a huge improvement over what we had before. And it wasn't as much of an improvement as it could have been - but the government chartered monopolies in certain industries, making it illegal for other companies to compete with the dominant corporations. And, surprise! It turns out the industries in which that was true - oil and rail, mostly - are the industries that are most excoriated for having "tycoons" and "robber barons". Well, I'm fucking astonished.

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