A story in memory of Milton Friedman
This man loved his laissez faire, so here’s a story that I hope he would approve of.
With a totally open market like laissez faire, money is being moved around in incredibly chaotic ways and quantities like minnows zipping around a dock. If you compare a worker to a fisherman with a little dip net, then that fisherman could dip his net virtually anywhere and catch a few minnows. He probably wouldn’t catch a whole lot, but it wouldn’t matter where he dips that net. When the elected overseer of the dock – government – comes along and sees all these fishermen on the dock dipping their nets, he might occasionally see some fishermen argue over a spot on the dock, or maybe one fisherman has a bigger net than others, and this causes disagreement; however, the disagreements remain civil because they know government is watching and will send them to jail if they get too rowdy.
Government, out of a misplaced feeling of wanting each fisherman to have an equal chance and being too myopic to see that each fisherman already has an equal chance, then forces rules on the fishermen about how much dockspace each can have and the size of the net. This causes the minnows to congregate where the fishermen can’t get to, which in turn prompts the fishermen to form corporations so they can pool their space and resources. These corporations start hauling in far more minnows than they need and in this way they destroy the market for the single fisherman who still can’t get anywhere near as many minnows and now is going hungry. Government sees this and begins forcing these corporations to hand over some of their minnows to the single fishermen.
Corporations don’t want to do this, so they begin bribing government to look the other way and they look for new ways to get out of giving the small fishermen free fish rather than concentrate on catching minnows. Government sees this and wrests all the nets from all the fishermen and now there is only one fisherman – government – trying to catch enough fish for everybody; except government isn’t very skilled at it and doesn’t have enough nets. Government then hires all the fishermen to catch minnows – so now government is paying fish out to fishermen to do what they would do anyways if government would just leave them alone.
The fishermen still fight over space and nets, but now government can’t see it because government is too busy trying to catch minnows. This causes unrest because the fishermen have grown to expect government to fix everything like an omnipotent parent and the fishermen all blame their boss – government – for not “fixing” the “problem” that prompted government to take over the fishing business in the first place; and the fishermen are all hungry now too. In their rage, they tie weights to government’s ankles and toss him off the dock. Now nobody is watching anybody to make sure that the arguments don’t escalate and madness ensues, which of course is the next step now that the fishermen are accountable to nobody but themselves.
Violence breaks out amongst the fishermen and one charismatic, strong and skilled fighter (or fighters) rises to power as a dictator(s). Now, only one person (or group) has any say in how the dock is used, for if the fishermen argue the fighter(s) will strike them down. Since they are stuck with this situation – the fishermen are stuck with two choices: suffer under the despotic regime or immigrate to a different dock.
Despite the seeming chaos at the beginning – the system was ordered in the way that a herd of cattle or a flock of birds are ordered and this system produced the maximum number of minnows per capita. We, as fishermen, need to have the courage to tell government to stay on the shore and not get involved with our business.
People like Pelosi, Obama, Boxer and Kerry (all of whom represent government, obviously) want to come onto the dock and do all the fishing for us. It isn’t going to work – we know best how to do this; not them. Keep them on the shore with the rest of government. If they refuse – fire them and then find new people that will stay on the shore to replace them. After all, we aren’t desperate, starving and mad just yet.