Markets in Everything

Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

Related Post Roulette

15 Responses

  1. zic says:

    Free choice presumes you have enough information to make a choice. Yet that’s often not the case. Simple time constraints prevent this for most people.

    I live in a state without a building code for single family homes, so it’s a good example.

    When my state government holds a hearing (an annual event, btw) on single-family building codes, the attendees at that hearing are typically the lobbyist from the home-builders association (for the codes, they want to get rid of sub-par builders,) insurance lobbyists (for the codes, they want to limit liability), and the lobbyist from the state’s municipal association, representing town governments (against the codes, it creates more oversight problems which impact local taxes.) I have been to several of these hearings, and I’ve yet to see a single homeowner attend out of self-interest; who has the time? And seeing a reporter in those hearings is even less likely — what news agency has the money for that? The press hoards its resources to report on the things that are controversial.

    To date, the legislature has not adopted a building code because they think folks ought to have choice in how their homes are built. And they’re very cautious of creating mandates for town governments.

    Meanwhile, the homeowner generally doesn’t even know to ask a builder, “Do you conform to any building codes? Will my new home/remodel meet any minimum safety standards?” Most will hire the builder with the lowest bid, because, you know, money’s tight, and that extra $5,000 will buy granite counters instead of laminates. Yet that lowest bid contractor is the one likely to cut the corners on safety to come in with that lowest bid.

    On the other end of the legislate/fail to legislate issue is the attorney general who receives all the complaints about shoddy building, and only has the resources to go after the most egregious cases. In the meantime, there’s homeowners with no remedy except the courts, which is just another money suck after they’ve already had to pay repair the shoddy work done in their homes in an unregulated environment.

    But hey, it’s okay because their property taxes didn’t go up $2/year because the town had to have a code enforcement officer inspect their new/remodeled house for safety.Report

    • JosephFM in reply to zic says:

      Wow, I’m shocked that you don’t have homeowner’s insurance companies pushing equally hard for the codes. I would imagine any savings people make from lower property taxes in this case are gobbled up by insurance premiums even without having to pay for repairs.Report

      • zic in reply to JosephFM says:

        we do. I wrote insurance lobbyists (for the codes, they want to limit liability)

        And I forgot to add that the codes typically adopted (BOCA code, usually) are proprietary publications, you’ve got to pay for them. So there’s a market for codes that are written into law, but the codes are not available on-line, though the law referencing the code usually is.

        Markets in everything.Report

  2. RE Garrett, MD says:

    It seems to me that, “a world of limitless choice, fierce competition, and little if any public sector (or ‘commons’ for that matter)” is a fairly decent short description of ‘ancien regime’ France under the Bourbons, Russia under the Romanovs, early-17th-century Great Britain, and just about any medieval monarchy, east or west, you care to name.* As a general rule, these regimes tend to fall apart in bloody revolutions, not infrequently winding up in a tyrannical autocracy that is worse than the regime overthrown. I think the general lession here is, at some point, enough people in the society are fed up with their lack of power and wealth, and are more than happy to put their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor on the line to try and get rid of the social parasites in charge. One would hope that some of our free-market theorists would realize that their path to the future will take them right over the edge of a cliff.

    *”Free choice” and “fierce competition” in these cases apply only to the active members of society, e.g., the nobility or aristocracy. The vast majority of people, peasants and artisans, simply don’t count.Report

  3. Mike Schilling says:

    Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of recession may speedily pass away. Yet, if the Market wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the banks’ ten years of wild coke orgy shall be sunk, and until every drop of wealth earned by the working man shall be paid by layoffs and evictions, as was said (at staggering length) fifty-three years ago , so still it must be said “the judgments of the Market are true and righteous altogether.”Report

  4. mike farmer says:

    The superficial criticism of free markets amazes me, especially since our market hasn’t been free in a long, long time. Criticism is only effective if it hits the right target — free markets aren’t the problem — un-free, government/corporation controlled markets are the problem. There’s are smallish, negative ideas regarding the libertarian position which are more cartoon-like than helpfully critical.

    I wrote something tangentially related to this —

  5. mike farmer says:

    There are smallish..

    I can’t type todayReport