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« Some Discussion of Libertarianism and the Family | Main | The Nazi-Naming Parents and Comparative Institutional Analysis »


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great post. Opened my eyes.


Unfortunately none of this is the result of your free market capitalist fantasy-land but of good old-fashioned union labor.


You should probably look to the safety record of such free-market utopias like say . . . . Russia or maybe parts of Africa.

Well George is probably not gonna come back and read this but if he does, I'd love to know how the fact that many of the rescuers involved were union members is in any way evidence against my claim that non-governmental entities were a crucial part of the rescue, especially when unions, per se, are not antithetical to a free market.

But I'm not really expecting a response.

Wrong again.

I did come back.

I am interested in knowing what types of unions would not be antithetical to a free market? That is, absent some form of government legal support there is an obvious free rider problem that would inevitably destroy virtually any union.

In my view, the corporation is actually the largest government interference in the market. Essentially, the government gives capital investors limited liability for all but the most egregious misdeeds. In fact, given the structure of a corporation it is all but impossible to ascribe criminal liability because of the vast diffusion of responsibility.

That being said, unions are the obvious counterweight to that government interference.

If capitalists were held accountable to their last penny for any damage caused by their activities, I might actually believe more strongly in the power of the market. Otherwise, the externalities simply overwhelm the pricing mechanism.

Of course, it is easy in hindsight to simply praise the free-market. However, this was an occasion where the intervention was successful. The real question you should be asking is, without unions and their "bureaucratic" rules protecting workers, what happens in the 99 other times where workers divert a ship in circumstances that end up being a waste of time. It is the layers of legal protection fought for by unions that allow for this behavior that might not otherwise be considered "efficient" by the market.

quite frankly, I see absolutely no reason for a rational corporation to ever risk its assets in such an operation. There is limited possibility of profit and, in fact, quite a real possibility of liability should the attempted rescue fail. In the alternative world where these ships collided and ended up killing one or two passengers, you would have had counsel to these corporations urging that these ships not respond unless "ordered" to by local authorities. (of course, there are probably some maritime "rules of the road" that require such activities. But those are only effective if enforced by the government).

Unfortunately this is a good example of economists seeing something work in practice and trying to figure out if it can work in theory.

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