Match.com was launched on April 21, 1995, the idea was to use a matching algorithm to coordinate the search process between potential romantic partners. A survey conducted in 2013 suggested that 22 percent of the population between the ages of 25-34 utilize an online dating service.
Markets are indeed these amazingly miraculous vehicle for the discovery of previously unrealized opportunities for mutually beneficial exchange. The logic of market transactions says absolutely nothing about the moral judgement of those transactions. Economics cannot as a discipline inform you as to whether or not profits are deserved, but economics as a discipline can tell you the consequences of your answer to that question. And that matters -- consequences matter.
Consider other matching problems --- those in need of life saving organ transplants, or those couples desperately trying to start a family. One of the first lessons of is the reality of scarcity, and the requirement due to scarcity of rationing. Some system of rationing of goods, services, and time must be in place -- some system that prioritizes when making the trade-offs -- some system that enables individuals in their decision making to negotiate the trade-offs they must make. The price system is one such very effective mechanism for doing this, but historically other rationing systems have been employed --- birth right; political position; military accomplishment; beauty; contests or other measures of merit; and waiting are some. Each of these has costs associated with them that must be weighed in the comparison with the price system.
When I started studying economics in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I often have mentioned the power that Milton and Rose Friedman's Free to Choose and Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson had on me. Those books, along with Sennholz's lectures and his own books, changed my life. But while still an undergraduate and reading the classics from Adam Smith and JB Say to Mises and Hayek, I also was persuaded by the universal applicability of economic reasoning to all walks of life. This was, I admit, first impressed on me by my reading of Mises -- even more so than my reading of Rothbard. But after my second year at Grove City College, those two were my go-to on all issues related to economics, politics and history. But in the mid-1970s 3 books were published that I read with great pleasure and benefit as a student of economics. Those books were:
Douglass North and Roger LeRoy Miller, Abortion, Baseball and Weed: The Economic Issues of Our Times (1973)
Gordon Tullock and Richard McKenzie, The New World of Economics (1976)
Walter Block, Defending the Undefendable (1976)
I remember the intellectual excitement I had in reading those books for the first time and seeing how economics could explain everything about the world, and I mean everything. And that excitement has never left me. I sincerely believe that economics represents a golden key that unlocks all the mysteries of the universe (as it relates to human action), and that our job as economic teachers and communicators is not to hoard that key but to share it freely with everyone we encounter who is willing to learn about the wonders of economic reasoning.
So it is with great pleasure and pride that I look upon my former students as they become great sharers of the knowledge of the golden key of economics to their students and to the public. A great example is Dr. Abby Hall -- who will be joining the faculty of the University of Tampa next fall. But she has already published numerous articles, is writing a book, and is a widely recognized lecturer and communicator to the general public. In her latest column, she addresses the very real issue of the matching of babies with families and the consequences of not allowing that matching to take place through the market. It is a clear essay in economic persuasion very much in the tradition of the books I mentioned above. Freakonomics has nothing on those works in terms of depth, clarity and boldness. Don't get me wrong, I am huge fan of the "freakonomics" genre, but I also don't consider it a new move in economic communication, it is just the latest in a long history of economists rendering intelligible the "doings of men" in all walks of life; of using that golden key to unlock the mysteries of the universe. Abby Hall has the golden key and she is using it very wisely.