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So you still haven't come up with a monopoly example. Can you prove that monopolies would exist in a completely free market?



Think infrastructure. Consider utilities, internet, interstate highways or any similar circumstance.

On a practical level, I don't see how these exist without government. The risk would be astronomical for a private entity to undertake such a massive investment that relies on negotiations with thousands of individual private property owners. However, if a private entity could pull it off, they would have extraordinary pricing power.

Not my idea of utopia.

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Your argument comes down to "but who's gonna build roads?" which is somewhat of a statist meme among libertarians. In short, it's this: roads are built by private contractors hired by the government, those contractors are paid by taxpayers money. Government acts as a middle man, which, indeed, may be necessary to coordinate the project, however it holds an ultimate monopoly for the middle man. There's no reason why one middle man should exist to coordinate building all roads.

When you talk about risks in undertaking an investment, it means there might not be enough demand for something that the government does and so taxpayers in fact are investing in things not enough people actually need to justify the investment. Which simply means that the government is an irresponsible fund manager.

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A good way to get a free marketeer to stop talking is to ask them to come up with a free market system that doesn't end up hopelessly stratified. I don't know whether they shut down, like a killer AI given an unsolvable problem, or start reevaluating their views.

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It's hard to create examples of something in a system that has never existed.

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He rephrased his question, and he shouldn't have, because his original one works pretty well. Can you name a single instance of a harmful monopoly that didn't either form or persist because of government backing?

No goalpost-moving this time.

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Are you claiming that no one has ever possessed a local monopoly on a resource that produced negative consumer effects? Pretty laughable claim and clearly false on hundreds of thousands of counts. Or are you ready to turn your back on basic property rights as an evil cooked up by the big bad gubmint?

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Are you claiming that no one has ever possessed a local monopoly on a resource that produced negative consumer effects?

Such monopolies either (a) aren't really monopolies, despite people whining that they are; (b) don't last; or (c) have to be backed with collective force of some sort.

Pretty laughable claim and clearly false on hundreds of thousands of counts.

Then I'm sure you'll have no problem naming a few, in between the guffaws.

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Windows

And who's moving goalposts? That seems like a random, out of nowhere comment.

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Windows' monopoly relies upon state-granted monopoly powers (patent/copyright). http://archive.mises.org/17366/apple-vs-microsoft-which-bene...

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The entire PC compatible movement would have been crushed by IBM mercenaries going garage-to-garage in a free market fantasy land. Bill Gates, coming from a wealthy family, would be the only one who could afford his own mercenaries.

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Nobody asked about what "would" have happened. That's what I meant by goalpost-moving.

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It's like we're talking different languages.

You said: "Can you name a single instance of a harmful monopoly that didn't either form or persist because of government backing?"

One possible answer: Windows

You asked a question. You got a suitable answer. What more is there to say? What is this "goal post" you keep referring to?

I know you're eager to roll out the "copyright and patents are government-granted monopolies" line. But those don't work as monopolies in comparing governments to contracts in imaginary free market systems.

Remove government, and businesses would develop their own systems like copyright and patents, which they would privately enforce through contract, private prisons, and mercenaries. You still end up with a Windows monopoly because Bill Gates started life with a lawyer and banker for parents.

You replace one system with another that's almost identical, but small businesses lose any kind of recourse if a bigger business decides it owns a particular creation.

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I actually agree with you, in that any sufficiently dominant corporation is indistinguishable from a government.

However, even if you set aside the question of its dependence on government-enforced IP rights, Windows is a bad example of a harmful monopoly, IMHO. Network effects make the calculation of net "harm" very difficult. Thousands and thousands of entrepreneurs (to say nothing of Microsoft employees) have become millionaires thanks to those network effects. Good things have happened in the world of personal computing that could never have happened in a fragmented world where dozens of vendors were pushing their own 6502 or Z80 boxes with proprietary BIOSes and OSes, or where Linux geeks worked day and night to make sure ordinary users would never be able to accomplishing anything on their own. Somebody had to step in and harness all of those creative forces in a productive direction. Frankly, I'm glad it was Bill Gates and not Steve Jobs.

Where I think you are wrong is with your supposition that "IBM mercenaries" would have roamed around like mafiosi, crushing the PC revolution. That's what I call moving the goalposts, or more properly, a strawman scenario. You won the argument in your own head by inventing a fictional world where you could claim to be right.

Remove government, and businesses would develop their own systems like copyright and patents, which they would privately enforce through contract, private prisons, and mercenaries.

I'd need to see an example to buy this. (Don't use Somalia or any other failed Islamic states dominated by other governments' proxy warriors.) We don't live on the set of Blade Runner, at least not yet.

I guess the closest example I can think of would be the medieval guild systems. Those aren't coming back, not as long as capital can flow freely between nations and individual actors are gaining rather than losing influence.

You replace one system with another that's almost identical, but small businesses lose any kind of recourse if a bigger business decides it owns a particular creation.

The patent system is doing a better job at that than your violin-case-toting IBM thugs ever could have.

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> I'd need to see an example to buy this.

The system where that's real is as real as whatever free market system exists in your head. I don't think football metaphors (goal posts) will work until we agree on what the stadium looks like.

Until that happens, all we can do is talk past each other based on our own ideas about what "free market" means. A free market to me is one where the strongest invariably crushes anyone weaker. Anything more restrictive would require government or cultural norms. Moving to any more or less restrictive system requires changing at least one of those things. Any discussion that doesn't see that isn't going to produce anything practical.

And I'm not interested in discussing hypothetical markets, so I'm going to go do something else and ignore this subtree.

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I answered this down here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4799229

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