"The History of Government Regulation and Big Business":
Good post. Lets say you live in a mythical place where people are encouraged to trade, produce and make their own things which they take to market. Lets say competition is encouraged but not beyond some prices (because too much competition results in monopoly, oligopoly), and also individuals themselves follow a religion which tells them to be generous in trade, to even aid competitors if they are in trouble (because there is plenty for everyone and everyone is guaranteed a pre-determined livelihood by God who is the Most Generous). would this be a good society in your opinion?
I can see some people may be lazy because "God provides", but they are taught that God provides for those who help themselves and who work.
For instance I have heard cases of shop traders in Egypt refusing to serve a customer and asking them to go to a neighboring 'competitor' shop to buy the item 'because he has not had allot of business today'.
He may have missed my point, in that history shows that true free-market competition PREVENTS cartelization. There is no such thing as "too much competition". Cartels happen when government imposes regulation; history says that regulation was pushed by the giant corporations themselves (through lobbyists and bribes to government officials), to help shut out competition from startups.
His 2nd point, about people (such as ancient Egyptians) or a religion that encourages people to help their competitors when they are in serious trouble, reminds me of 2 things.
First is that this is the philosophy, if I recall correctly, of Plato, that "The Pie is Big Enough", or better yet, "We Can Make the Pie as Big as we Want it to be", as opposed to "The Pie isn't Big Enough for Everyone", or "Life is a Zero Sum Game".
In the former, the essence is that knowledge is wealth, and more knowledge begets more wealth. Technology has the power to make everyone wealthy. Witness how technology has enriched our lives.
In the Middle Ages only Kings could travel 500 miles in relative comfort, and they would die a slow death if they contracted Amoebic Dysentery. Today I'd wager that flying 500 miles in coach on JetBlue or Southwest is more comfortable than said Middle Age King's journey, and even the lower middle class in a 3rd world country can afford the pills to cure Amoebiasis.
In the latter, (Zero Sum Game) the belief is "I need to steal somebody else's piece of the pie in order for me to have a bigger slice". This mindset is at work when some riffraff breaks into your car (thinking "I'm poor, this guy is rich, he can afford a new stereo"); when people do day trading on the stock market; or the big leveraged buyout firms make money; or when the WTO/NAFTA/IMF/WB force rules and monetary and tax law changes on 3rd world countries, which effectively force them to remain poor, for the benefit of transnational corporations. It is also true when nations go to war over oil. All of it is wealth re-distribution (and wealth destruction, in the case of wars and breaking in cars).
Socialism is the same. Socialists think "Look at these poor people, let's take money from the productive middle class, and give it to the poor". (Wealth re-distribution, zero sum game) .
A better way is to think "How can we stimulate the economy, or make the economy more sound and more fair, so that jobs can be created, so these poor people can make a decent living?" Make the pie bigger. The saying of teaching a man to fish, instead of giving him a fish, comes to mind. And no, I'm not talking about government mandated minimum wages. The minimum wage does NOT create more jobs...
The 2nd thing the comment reminds me of, is morality. An Egyptian shopkeeper sending customers to a competitor in trouble, is altruism. It's a separate topic than free-market competition. The two are not mutually exclusive. This is why during the 80s, the "Decade of Greed", that charitable contributions reached an all-time high. (From the book "The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History")
In the book "The Science of Good and Evil", the author Michael Shermer argues that altruism is hardwired into the brains of our species (as well as in primates). Altruism helps propagate the species. The book goes on to explain why people do evil things, despite that.
I will argue that everything that drives man, is for selfish purposes (as Ayn Rand says), including altruistic deeds. When someone does something altruistic, he or she feels good, which is what drives the deed in the first place.
My writing this blog is also a selfish deed. The direction that the nation and the world is going, makes me sad and angry. Writing this blog is my therapy. A second selfish reason for writing this blog, is the hope that it will make the world a better for most everyone, including myself.
It's just really neat that the mechanism of true free-market economics harnesses the power of selfishness to create wealth for everyone.