Ask the average American what the free market is, and they’ll try and detail how it’s about fat cats taking down the little guy. They’ll talk to you about how it’s about buying and selling stuff. They’ll tell you it’s about money.
But they would be wrong.
When we say free market, it represents two things. First is “free” — not “without cost” — but without restriction. Freedom is the ability to move, adapt, change and meet. It’s about ideas and imagination. There are no processes in freedom. At least, only the processes you create for yourself, based on your own thinking. There is power in an untethered imagination.
And then there’s market. In this instance, the market is not about an exchange of money, an exchange of a product for capital, or even a service for pay. It’s about the exchange of ideas!
In a free market, I can offer my imagination to solving a problem. You want to see people do something from very far away? I’m going to create you a box that shows you the world. Need a carriage to get you from A to B without horses? I’m going to make a vehicle that needs no animals other than yourself. And maybe your pet. Need a big machine in your house that will take that hot summer air and cool it off? I’m going to invent something to keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Everything that could ever be traded, bought, sold or given away is, in reality, the culmination of an idea. None of the wonders of our American age could exist without an idea. Nothing more than farming with a stick, hunting and gathering could exist without an idea. It was first an idea that someone thought of living in a hut instead of a cave. That hut did not exist until someone imagined it. As time progressed, we built huts, and houses, and long-houses, and fortifications, castles and fortresses. We build a sled, then a wagon with wheels, then a carriage, then a buggy, then a car, then airplanes. There is so much more created out there borne of ideas.
I need to wash clothes without taking all day to do it. Someone creates a washing machine.
I need to cook without starting a fire in my home. Someone creates a stove.
I need to write stories and edit them without putting ink to paper. Someone creates a word processor.
These are ideas made reality. Nothing more, nothing less.
When we create these ideas, we must trade them. But if I created a computer and my neighbor created aprons, and I didn’t need aprons and she didn’t need computers, we would need something else we could trade.
That’s where money comes in. The market isn’t about money. The market is about ideas. But sometimes I don’t have what you need, and you won’t trade me what you have for what I have. So we use a currency, a go-between we both agree bears the value we really want.
I have an idea, spend the time and money to build it, then trade it to you to solve your problem. It doesn’t matter what it is, other than that it meets your need. You then value my culminated idea more than the money you earned, and I want the money more than the idea I had. We then trade, and both of us come out on top.
That’s called a positive-sum trade. It happens when both parties get what they want.
Controlling the market is really controlling ideas. When you attempt to box in ideas, you only serve to limit the magnitude of people’s creativity and ability to solve problems. You’re attempting to force people to solve problems in a way that YOU feel comfortable, which may not be in the best interests of the problems that need solutions.
Instead, people who don’t like the free exchange of effort and ideas want to control it. If they control it, they can squeeze out from traders (those who produce to trade with others who produce, because we all produce, one way or the other) money by promising services in a way that is inefficient and likely ineffective.
For example, our government has always run in the red with the US Postal Service. In its entire history, the USPS has never actually made money, has the poorest service in the industry and has nearly gone bankrupt more than once. UPS, FedEx, DHL all make money, promise faster delivery times and do so with better customer service.
UPS, FedEx and DHL are all free-market. USPS is non-free market.
There is nothing a closed-market bureaucracy does better than free market systems. The problem is the closed-market bureaucracies will attempt to limit a free market’s ability to show competition. That’s why our own US government made it illegal for any private entity to deliver parcels within the US for decades after the founding of our nation, and to this day UPS, FedEx and DHL are not allowed to deliver first class or standard mail. Why?
Individuals across this nation solve problems every day. They don’t need the government to do it. They need the freedom to try and then to benefit by learning how to trade and distribute on their own. It’s about ideas. We cannot limit these ideas. We must promote them. We must unleash them.
But until we do so, we will continue missing out on thousands of real solutions to our nation’s problems. Our technological advances have retarded in recent years due to tighter restrictions and limitations on what we’re free to try. To attempt.
Learn about the free market. Learn how it’s credited as the single greatest catalyst of the raising of the standard of living for the rich and poor alike. How it made the US such a beacon of hope where all other nations shunned such an idea.
We don’t have a free market today. We’re too cronyized. But that can change. Learn! And then do!