Wednesday, January 14, 2015

(Related update): Liberals Complain About Monopolies. So Why Do they Support the USPS?

Related update:  In a follow-up article to the one highlighted in the original post below, philosopher Stephen Hicks points out that monopolies are all around us and, in many instances, actually a good thing.  In fact, as he demonstrates in the first portion of the article, monopolies that are the result of free and voluntary transactions among people are almost always a positive for those involved and, interestingly, for society as well.  So why is the concept "monopoly" usually viewed as a synonym for evil, greed, and destruction? The answer to this question is the business of the second part of this must-read article.  Here's an excerpt that shows the direction Hicks takes in providing an answer:
But everything important changes when political force is introduced. When a government confers special monopoly status upon a particular firm, that firm has no worries about competitors entering its market. Its incentives to innovate and lower prices are lessened. Also important is the fact that the monopoly firm was initially selected by politicians rather than by customers. Its incentives, accordingly, are to give politicians what they want in order to maintain its monopoly status — rather than to give customers what they want. Further: government monopolies also violate the freedom of everyone else to go into that line of business. Entrepreneurs who may have chosen to go into that field are prohibited from doing so.

For exactly the same reasons that government-managed monopolies in dating and marriage would be dehumanizing and unsatisfying, government monopolies in any area will be. Whom we associate with and on what terms should always be matters of choice



Original post 1/5/15:  Because the USPS is the government, and only large companies like Amazon should be regulated as monopolies, according to the progressive worldview.  Fortunately, we have philosopher Stephen Hicks to dismantle their argument; in a recent Every Joe article, Hicks notes several critical distinctions between Amazon and the postal service:

Therefore, in judging who is really serious about monopolies, contrast reactions to the USPS and Amazon:
What do you think?

  • The USPS has a 100% monopoly on first-class mail; Amazon has a large share of its market.
    What do you think?
  • The USPS’s position was granted by government; Amazon earned its position in the free market.
    What do you think?
  • The USPS has any would-be competitors put out of business by force; Amazon’s competitors are free to enter and stay in the market.
    What do you think?
  • The USPS has a long list of government-granted operational privileges; Amazon has none of them.
    What do you think?
  • The USPS has an actual track record of sticking taxpayers with its losses; Amazon might at some future time raise prices to consumers.
There is much more of value in the article, including a reference to an excellent book on the myth of the "robber barons".