Stop vb. , to arrest the progress of; to hinder; to impede; to cease

State n. , a gang of thieves writ large; a territorial monopolist of compulsion and
ultimate decision-making (jurisdiction) which may engage in continual, institutionalized property rights violations and exploitation in the form of expropriation, taxation, and regulation of private property owners; the group within society that claims for itself the exclusive right to rule everyone under a special set of laws that permit it to do to others what everyone else is rightly prohibited from doing, namely aggressing against person and property.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Market Provides

I received a lot of emails after my last Mises Daily article.

Here's a really good one and my response:

"Hi Austin,

I enjoyed reading your article in the Mises Daily email today and have been doing a lot of reading and pondering over the last months.  Slowly I’m gaining a better understanding of Austrian economics.  I do struggle a bit when I start thinking about what central and local governments should be doing (there’s generally a lot of emphasis that governments are doing too much but not specifically on what the core role of the government is), and the water supply issue in your article is an example.  I’m not trying to criticise, just trying to understand in my own mind some of the practicalities.  In a free market with multiple water vendors, surely there’s still only a single system of pipework to deliver the water to my house, so I wouldn’t actually be getting the water produced by my vendor of choice.  Also, as it wouldn’t make sense for each vendor to lay their own piping, how can there be a competitive situation with the piping system?  Is that not where the government needs to play a part?

Sorry to get into details, and this is a bit off-topic from your article, but I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

thanks & kind regards,


Ron, I have absolutely no idea how a free market water distribution system would work.  People want water and entrepreneurs would be clamoring to provide them with water because entrepreneurs want to make money.  I have full faith that an efficient, high-quality system would smoothly emerge.  I don't see why there couldn't be multiple pipe systems, but who knows, it might turn out that using underground pipes isn't even the best method of delivery.

The good news is that if a water-delivery entrepreneur did a lousy job he would go out of business; government doesn't go out of business so we're stuck whether they do good or bad.

Just thinking about government water services I have to conclude that they're are doing a completely terrible job.  Where I live nobody drinks the tap water.  It has dangerous levels of chlorine, fluoride, sulfur, dirt, etc.  If people are trying to avoid a product instead of happily consuming it, I have to conclude that it's not a very good product.

Fortunately, the free market provides.  We can go to any supermarket and find entire isles of pure, clean water from all different sources of the world and even in different flavors.  The market also provides us with great filters that we can use to treat the government water for drinking and you can even get filters for your shower. 


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