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Prof Bison Sexhorn @Brainmage
, 28 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
Right. I'm going to have a pub reckon about free-market economics. Here we go.
I have a degree in economics and philosophy. As such, I'm working in unsatisfying admin and am so weighed down by student debt my nose scrapes the floor. However, I do occasionally Have A Reckon about things.
Economics is a fun subject. It's basically peoplemaths. The same way that formal logic is thinkingmaths. It's a set of rules, assumptions and axioms that you plug things into and get results out of.
One common theme is seeing how changes affect systems "ceteris paribus", or "all things being equal", which is a fancy way of saying "I am going to change only X, and Y, Z, and every other bugger will remain the same"
Then there's lots of fun graphs which is just basically the same graph of a big old X, where the only change is labeling the axes and the little line lads. Supply and demand intersecting, the effect of price caps bouncing things about. All that.
(It goes without saying that this is tremendously basic. This is a pub reckon, not Econ 101)
Basically, we can develop models to interrogate how economies work, and the effects that changes will have. Lovely. Little bottle-worlds where everything chugs along in perfect harmony.
So, in our perfect Swiss-clock world, free market economics is a bloody lovely idea. Sane and rational, everything is perfect, and so The Invisible Hand of the Market will gently fondle the testicles of the economy, and everyone has a good time.
According to free market economics, there's no need for regulation or government intervention - if a product or service is needed, the market will spot that, & spring to action like a cat on a mouse, but the cat is a company and the mouse is setting aside disabled parking spaces
It makes perfect sense! There is a demand for disabled parking spaces for disabled consumers, and so WHOOSH, the market rushes in to fill that gap to ensure those consumers' demands are met.
Naturally, any businesses who _don't_ make these adjustments - places that don't have disabled spaces, or access ramps, or any of that jazz - will suffer, because they're not meeting the demand. And so, we live in a wonderful world where the market, like the dude, abides.
Obviously, this is grade-A, rarefied horseshit. And this is because of people. God. People. Have you ever met any? Awful. Terrible things. People are frightened and irrational and distracted and horny and lazy and cheap and PEOPLE.
Proponents of free market economics are kinda massive optimists, as they see everyone as a rational actor with perfect information, always interrogating every situation to locate the desired outcome.
Clearly, free-market economists haven't been outside a club in Coventry at chucking out time, and watched people scramble to climb a statue for 45 minutes, only to fall off into a paddling-pool sized puddle of their own sick.
People are *wankers* is the thing. You can have a chicken, and want some bread, and I can have some bread and want a chicken, but if one of us has got a fucking big stick, you'd better believe that guy's having chicken sandwiches for tea.
People will lie and cheat and steal. People will cut their nose off to spite their face, and make long-term sacrifices for short-term gratification.
We are, basically, apes. Apes that have massively overcomplicated things. Bundles of hormones and neuroses that are inherently wired to run away from predators and shout at the moon, but that now have to work out how much lead is acceptable to have in fizzy drinks.
Free market economics is basically Zeno's paradox. Sure, you can carefully explain why the arrow will never cross the room, but I'd bet my bottom dollar you wouldn't stand in front of the guy with the bow.
Because of this, the game is rigged from the start. Profit being the chief driving force ignores mucky, base, animal things like love, hope, compassion and community.
So you get things like this! Which, while morally repugnant, makes perfect sense, if profit is your main focus. Why the FUCK would you spend all that extra money simply to allow one or two more customers to shop with you?

Well...because we're human. Because it's the right thing to do. The world is hard. It's cruel & cold & unfair, but it doesn't HAVE to be. We have vaccinations and surgery and water processing plants. As a species, we've been doing our best to say "fuck you" to the state of nature
"Regulations are killing the market! Wah wah wah!" Regulations stop asbestos being used in building material. They stop poisons being used in food containers. Regulations are GREAT. They may not be good for a company that wants to squeeze every last penny that it can, but...good?
The invisible hand of the market would sell bundles of twigs to the three little pigs, and inhalers to the wolf. Twigs are cheap, pigs basically are machines that make more pigs, and the wolf will need help with all his huffing and puffing.
(Please note that @ChthonicQueex is currently doing a good side-reckon on similar lines)
Slap a bit of regulation in there and you get formalised construction laws, certified wolf-safe building materials, and intra-species relationship building initiatives, overseen by trained counsellors
Now, obviously, regulation can become snarled with bureaucracy, and then shit hits the fan from a completely different side. Generally, people who complain about "red tape" should be driven out of town by a pitchfork-wielding mob, but there are clear cases where Shit Gone Bad.
Ultimately, this is one long rambling "fuck you" to one guy I saw whose profile was all "Yay brexit woo free market". Things are horribly, horribly complicated. Behavioral economics is a fascinating field, but god damn, economics as a whole just doesn't take humanity into account
Sorry that there's no tidy end to this. Basically, people are weird, there are no easy answers, and the gulf between economics in theory and in practice is kinda terrifying.

tl;dr - Greed is a fucker, innit?
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