free lunch!

A key building block of a free market is the notion of voluntary exchange, in which both parties interact freely, without fraud or coercion. The strong implication is that in order for this to work, there must also be free circulation of information (this is, I believe, the typical linkage cited by those who argue that capitalism and democracy walk hand in hand).

So two things strike me as curious: one, the extent to which our nominally pro- free-market society limits that free flow of information, chiefly in defining it as “intellectual property,” but also in failing to ensure equal and extensive education for all. The current administration seems rather allergic to openness and positively enamored of secrecy and control of information, for instance.

Even more to the point: set up a nominally free market economy, and the first things producers of goods and providers of services will do is find advertisers and marketers…not to tell the truth about their goods and services, but to do everything short of lie: twist, bend, and distort the nature of the product or service, and obfuscate, frighten, cajole, praise, and flatter its potential audience.

How “voluntary” can any exchange be under such conditions of enforced ignorance and near-fraudulent levels of information distortion?

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free lunch!

A key building block of a free market is the notion of voluntary exchange, in which both parties interact freely, without fraud or coercion. The strong implication is that in order for this to work, there must also be free circulation of information (this is, I believe, the typical linkage cited by those who argue that capitalism and democracy walk hand in hand).

So two things strike me as curious: one, the extent to which our nominally pro- free-market society limits that free flow of information, chiefly in defining it as “intellectual property,” but also in failing to ensure equal and extensive education for all. The current administration seems rather allergic to openness and positively enamored of secrecy and control of information, for instance.

Even more to the point: set up a nominally free market economy, and the first things producers of goods and providers of services will do is find advertisers and marketers…not to tell the truth about their goods and services, but to do everything short of lie: twist, bend, and distort the nature of the product or service, and obfuscate, frighten, cajole, praise, and flatter its potential audience.

How “voluntary” can any exchange be under such conditions of enforced ignorance and near-fraudulent levels of information distortion?

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Filed under political

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