No Free-Market Famines?

Some balding, religious guy asserted this was the case in comments upstream. However, he must not be aware of the year without a summer, when "many residents of New England and the Canadian Maritimes froze to death, starved, or suffered from severe malnutrition." Now, I know these areas still had some government, but this was a pretty darned free market society we're talking about, and this natural disaster nevertheless created severe problems. On the other hand, there are cases where sound government planning seemed to avert the worst consequences of a natural disaster.

Some people believe that the "true free market" is a construction that can be built up high enough that man will reach heaven, and will no longer suffer the vicissitudes of earthly life. Such projects have not gone well in the past.


  1. Yes Gene, and if a volcano erupts and kills everyone the market won't help either.

    But get this: the government can!

    *rolls eyes*

  2. Fair enough, Gene, I guess I should say from now on, "The market has virtually eliminated famine."

    It's interesting though, that the case you need to bring up involves basically a worldwide calamity. Obviously the existence of a market can't make more food come out of the ground than Nature wants to give. The point that I had in mind (copying somebody else who had said it, apparently also ignorant of the "year without a summer") was that markets are really good at moving goods from surplus regions to areas in deficit.

    Anyway, I still think the people in Texas would be a lot better off today, if we'd had a free market in water in the US for the last 50 years.

  3. Avram, you are being an idiot.

  4. "Anyway, I still think the people in Texas would be a lot better off today, if we'd had a free market in water in the US for the last 50 years."

    Bob, as I've repeatedly said, institutions certainly matter!

  5. I accidentally deleted Avram's comment: "Before you say "I was clearly talking about famines not volcanoes" we all know what you're talking about. i.e. that saving via insurance policies can most prudently be planned by the government and that market insurance fails."

    Is that what I was talking about? Thanks for filling me in, because I had no idea.

  6. It's funny, isn't it, that when you talk about the economic catastrophe of recent years, libertarians say, "You can't blame that on the free market -- it doesn't exist!" But when it comes time to claim credit for the near elimination of famines, then the non-existent free market gets all the credit!

  7. Oh, I'm not familiar with those findings, Silas. Have a link?

  8. Is that a reply to my mention of the two empirical regularities predicted by evolutionary psychologists? If so, it's only fair that you first show how those phenomena are "obviously to be expected" without simply copying and re-writing the EvoPsychs' argument in a way that makes it look like an easy inference.

    Pray tell, how exactly would you have otherwise figured out that poor women are more likely to keep having children until they bear a boy?

  9. Yes, sorry Silas, I was responding to a bunch of comments in a batch and posted that reply in the wrong thread.

    In any case, links, please, if you have any.


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