We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

If we had…

…a free market in money then we wouldn’t have inflation. (Please note that with zero inflation prices can still move relative to one another.)

…a free market in housing then we wouldn’t have a housing crisis.

…a free market in healthcare then queues for cancer care would be much shorter, perhaps even non-existent.

…a free market in energy then – all things being equal – things would be looking a lot better for this winter. Of course, if we had a genuine free market in energy – all things not being equal – then polluters would be compensating their victims. This could lead to some very odd outcomes and I wouldn’t like to predict what they would be.

…a free market in education there would be a lot less wokeness and a lot less student debt.

…a free market in social media we would have pile-ons, doxing and cancel culture.

31 comments to If we had…

  • Quentin

    I think you need to provide cites for all those claims.

  • No, Quentin, he really doesn’t.

    In effect, all Patrick is saying is that if thing were allowed to move into equilibrium, they would eventually move into equilibrium.

  • Michael

    Freedom itself seems threatening to some. Freedom is frightening to some, it seems. Imagine life without guarantees, or with no threats for the failure to conform? It boggles the mind, to consider what being treated like an adult would be like.

  • bobby b

    Free markets favor the strong, the smart, the quick.

    The entire thrust of progressivism is that we cannot allow free markets because they do not foster equity.

  • Roué le Jour

    bobby b,
    The competent have built a world in which the competent prosper and the incompetent hate it.

  • Patrick Crozier

    Free markets favour everybody! Speaking as someone on a pretty low wage the things that work for me in life eg supermarkets, car maintenance, cycling are mostly free from state interference and the things that don’t e.g. roads, housing and now fuel aren’t.

  • Patrick Crozier

    To put it another way, if you are going to be poor do you want to be poor in a rich country or a poor country? I hope the answer is a rich country. And how do countries get rich? By being free (or freer if you prefer.)

  • Mr Ed

    Of course, the Left’s narrative is that we do have free markets in all but health and education, hence the woes of society.

    Of the points, the energy one is the least intuitive, who knows what the costs would be, but would we have judges making up ‘common law’ nuisance claims on the basis of CO2 being the most harmful ’emission’?
    a free market in money then we wouldn’t have inflation. (Please note that with zero inflation prices can still move relative to one another.)

    …a free market in money then we wouldn’t have inflation. (Please note that with zero inflation prices can still move relative to one another.)

    …a free market in housing then we wouldn’t have a housing crisis.

    These two overlap significantly, as the lending of fiat money into the financial system drives up prices and creates a rentier class in the economy reliant upon the margin on those loans. There are planning (zoning) laws that make the process of developing your own property problematic. This could be swept away in an afternoon if Parliament so wished.

    …a free market in healthcare then queues for cancer care would be much shorter, perhaps even non-existent.

    It is now beyond obvious in the UK that the state-run healthcare system does not deliver healthcare, so much as abysmal treatment in most areas (of the country and of medicine) that is free and effectively unavailable to many is the golden calf, at least in the minds of the political class. How much longer people will put up with it, who knows?

    Education needs liberation and many universities would make good car parks.

  • Paul Marks

    In a free market, money would be something people valued before-and-apart-from its use as money – that in no way contradicts the theory of economic value being subjective, but there is a big difference between “economic value is subjective” and “lights on government and banking computer screens, which can be turned off at any time, are money”- the latter is a totally insane monetary and financial system that could NOT have come about without massive government intervention, and can-not-survive without endless government bailouts (hidden as well as open).

    In a free market there would be no “Cantillon Effect” Credit Money concentration of the economy into the hands of the “pet” Credit Bubble banks and “Woke” financial entities such as BlackRock, State Street and Vanguard – whose loyalty is to an international CORPORATE STATE (yes the objective of the “anti Fascists” is Fascism – although they call it “private-public partnerships for United Nations Sustainable Development goals”, or “Stakeholder Capitalism”).

    In a free market higher education would be a matter of individual students earning money (Ronald Reagan worked as a life guard at a swimming pool – which covered both his tuition and his living expenses, that was within living memory – just) and using that money to pay scholars they wished to be taught by – that was the system in Scots universities in the 18th century, people such as Adam Smith and Thomas Reid were paid by students who attended their lectures and teaching tutorials. This would be a tiny fraction of what students pay now – especially in the United States.

    In a free market the internet would not be concentrated in a few hands – so Facebook and Twitter could not censor people (or “shadow ban” them) as they would face real, not just a little, competition. As stated above Corporate concentration is really a product of the Credit Money financial system – the Cantillon Effect, named after Richard Cantillon of some three centuries ago.

    Housing crises = a Credit Money economy crises. It is Credit Money (not “council planning committees”) which pushes up housing costs. And it is also the Credit Money that attracts mass immigration.

    “You can come – but you will get NOTHING” was the situation in Britain in the past, and there was not MASS immigration. No free food, no medical care, no free hotels – and if you slept in the street the police would arrest you.

    When my great grandfather came off the ship in London from the Russian Empire (“we knew it – you agent of Putin!”) that was the situation he faced – no free anything, and no “anti discrimination” laws either. Unsurprisingly Britain did NOT have mass immigration – even though the door was open till 1905.

    High medical costs and high energy costs – again the result of government interventions, but subsidies (such as Medicare and Medicaid) and endless regulations.

    When America had something closer to a free market in health care – what people had to pay was a tiny fraction of what they pay now (and then there were also massive fraternal networks – both religious and secular, who paid for people who could not pay for themselves).

    In energy the utter madness of British and other government interventions is now sadly obvious.

  • Stuart Noyes

    The only flaw with capitalism is when competition is taken away by mergers and buyouts or when the number of competing entities doesn’t produce competition. There has to be some control in the interests of the consumer and I believe the least control the better. In the field of housing, it doesn’t help having over 200k people extra brought into this already over populated country. People don’t want green spaces covered in housing. The government has far too close a relationship with big house building corporations. The cost of a home is eye watering. The banks love it.

  • Patrick Crozier

    “Everything competes with everything else” as the late Brian Micklethwait once said. For instance, lots of people think railways face no competition because there is no practical vehicular alternative, but they still face competition from people moving nearer to where they work, people taking jobs nearer to where they live or – increasingly these days – people working from home.

  • People don’t want green spaces covered in housing.

    Which people? Pave Kent. Seriously, if it was up to me, I’d just cut the regulatory barriers to paving Kent, put in the sewers and power lines required, step back and say “have at it, lads!”

  • Stuart Noyes

    I’m not surprised someone who lives in London doesn’t appreciate much other than concrete and tarmac. I happen to currently be in Kent and East Sussex. I’ve passed fields of hops, countless houses with the signature white clipboard. I woke up to a view that could have been a Constable painting. This country already has triple the population density of France.

  • Patrick Crozier

    The preservation of the beauty of the Home Counties is indeed desirable but not at the price of denying ordinary, decent people from having somewhere nice to bring up their children.

  • BelgianBrian

    Which people? Pave Kent. Seriously, if it was up to me,

    If the government and administration of the UK needed one more philistine ( as if it didn’t already have a surplus ), we know who to call.

  • Stuart Noyes

    Someone above mentioned equilibrium. How can that be reached when we import anywhere around a quarter or third of a million every year? We are a mature nation. Our population shouldn’t be rising by that number every year. It is making our lives worse. Demand for houses is high and so are the prices. Its an establishment stitch up. Resources are becoming more fought over or expensive.

  • Steven R

    The flip side is the free market leaves a lot of room for abuse. Milton Friedman said more than once there should be no laws about fraud because the market will sort itself out after the fact. The stories of how the robber barons and railroad magnates and mine owners treating employees worse than draft mules until forced to clean up by lawmakers. Bank failures happened before governments set up central banking and required deposit insurance. The dystopian future of governments being catspaws of overmighty business concerns happened over and over at the state level until enough normal people demanded change.

    Capitalism is the best system we have, but it still suffers from the same flaw as every other system: humans are a part of the equation. A free market still involves human beings and requires moral men to have their hands on the tiller. Sadly, far too many of the movers and shakers and decision makers in a free market are immoral and care nothing of what destruction they leave in their wake so long as they end up with more money in the bank.

    No, I am not advocating some other -ism like socialism or communism or what have you. Nor am I saying more government is always the answer. But I am also not saying a free market is the end all-be all theoretical panacea to all of our problems that some people think it is.

  • JohnK

    The preservation of the beauty of the Home Counties is indeed desirable but not at the price of denying ordinary, decent people from having somewhere nice to bring up their children.


    Who are these “ordinary, decent people”? Do they come over from France on dinghies?

    There is virtually no population growth in Britain save for immigration, legal and illegal. Without allowing a million extra people in last year, I rather think our existing housing stock would be adequate, no need to pave over Kent and the Home Counties.

  • lucklucky

    I don’t agree with anything in the post, it is amazingly naïf. Once again shows how Libertarians fail to see the strategic aspects of pretty much anything.

    If instead was changed to “Free Market is the least worse of the systems.” then i would have agreed.

  • Martin

    I’m not sure how paving Kent is equilibrium but as I’m from Yorkshire, if they really must pave a county I’d prefer they ruin the South of England than Yorkshire.

  • Saxinis Kion

    I’ve heard that story before….

    Imagine there’s no heaven
    It’s easy if you try
    No hell below us
    Above us, only sky
    Imagine all the people
    Livin’ for today

    Well we don’t have those, so we’ll just have to figure out how to get along.

  • Snag

    “This country already has triple the population density of France.”

    And yet the sum total of built up area in the UK (homes, roads, businesses,factories, all of it) is 4%

  • JohnK


    Not totally sure I believe that figure. Remember the UK includes Scotland, which outside the central belt is a whole bunch of nothing. England is a very densely populated country.

  • Snag

    Common courtesy not to call someone a liar, even on the internet.

    But if you fly over England as I have done a few times recently, you’ll see that it’s a whole bunch of nothing too.

  • Snag (August 22, 2022 at 11:49 pm), I think JohnK (August 22, 2022 at 11:41 pm) was speculating that your 4% figure is too high, not too low – therefore was, in the context of the discussion, rather agreeing with your technical point if not your exact figure. I confirm FWIW that even the Scots mainland has a great deal of empty space. The country is also well-supplied with offshore islands. Of course, if you made it plain to illegal immigrants that they’d be living in Fingal’s cave or similar, their numbers might drop.

    Common courtesy not to call someone a liar, even on the internet.

    So I guess it is terribly rude of me to say (for example) that Biden is a Usurper, and some of those loudest in calling 2020 the safest election ever are most aware of his fraudulency.

    BTW JohnK did not call you a liar, he just said he was not sure the 4% figure was correct. Common courtesy to grant someone the right to their own opinion and/or request a reference for yours. Sometimes it becomes clear from someone’s arguments and behaviour that they do not really believe it themselves, but that is not the case here.

    By all means provide the source for your 4% figure.

  • Stuart Noyes

    Snag: Can you share your source for this?
    France currently has 117 people per km2. England has 434. I got Frances figures from worldpopulationreview.com England isn’t so easy because most stats are fir the uk. But it appears that England is 3.7 times the population density of England. When I try to drive to Eastbourne or Scotland or Devon, I certainly notice the number of people in this country. The percentage of built on land varies between studies. Maybe you can site what it is in France?

  • Paul Marks

    As I pointed out in my comment of the 21st of August – the destruction of competition and the concentration of wealth is not some natural development of “capitalism”, it is the result of Credit Money – which tends to go first to the politically connected who use it to buy real assets (such as land) before the value of the credit money drops – this was first explained by Richard Cantillon 300 years ago, it is a bit depressing, after some three centuries, that some people still have not grasped this and think (mistakenly) that a Credit Money monetary and financial system is compatible with free markets – it is not.

    As the late F.A. Hayek pointed out (in one of the essays in “New Studies” 1978) Milton Friedman was just wrong in thinking of credit money as like water – so an increase in the money supply by (say) 10% means that everyone gets 10% more money. Credit Money is not like water – it is, as Hayek pointed out, more like “treacle” – it does not rush everywhere at once (like water), it piles up in certain places, and some people get sticky fingers.

    If you want a free market economy, and an honest society, then avoid Credit Money.

  • JohnK


    As has been noted above, I am hardly accusing you of lying, I am querying a figure you gave.

    England is a very densely populated country, there is no doubt about that. To suppose that the built environment is only 4% of its territory strikes me as being questionable.

  • Snag

    This report from 2017 gives various figures for various definitions, inc 0.1%, 1.4% and 5.3%.


    It has links to the underlying studies.

  • I am not surprised in the link above to see that only 14.5% of the English landscape is classed as natural (as against farmland, ‘green urban’ or built-on) whereas 70.7% of Scotland is classed as natural. Much of that Scottish land, especially in the remoter and/or smaller islands, would be an ideal place for illegal immigrants – if the aim were to motivate them to beg to be sent to Rwanda as soon as possible. 🙂

  • JohnK


    Interesting figures, but of course it is all down to definitions. I may be biased, because my local peat moss is slated to have 4,000 houses built on it. No doubt that is insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but if it happens often enough then there will be a lot less peat moss around. Anyway, ours is going to be destroyed.

    If you look at Britain from space at night, the lights seem to cover a lot of the country. Northern Scotland is pretty dark. The land there is poor, and will never support a large population.