Consider the following definition of freedom: the absence of monopoly.
The absence of monopoly means that you can exercise exit, even if you cannot exercise voice. The presence of monopoly means that, at most, you can exercise voice.
Neither my local supermarket nor any of its suppliers has a way for me to exercise voice. They don't hold elections. They don't have town-hall meetings where they explain their plans for what will be in the store. By democratic standards, I am powerless in the supermarket.
And yet, I feel much freer in the supermarket than I do with respect to my county, state, or federal government. For each item in the supermarket, I can choose whether to put it into my cart and pay for it or leave it on the shelf. I can walk out of the supermarket at any time and go to a competing grocery.
The exercise of voice, including the right to vote, is not the ultimate expression of freedom. Rather, it is the last refuge of those who suffer under a monopoly.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Freedom: the absence of monopoly
Posted by Nick