Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Free Market Principles Applied in Cultural Matters

It is a well settled fact that the government should not be heavily intervening in the free market economy. This is a point now accepted by left and right alike. Whilst the left may have a different view of fairness than the right, both agree that we should not have sky high tariffs, that we generally would not have government monopolies in most industries, and that intervention is only justified when they serve a clear purpose of preserving a free and fair playing field. Both sides agree that businesses in the market economy should be able to trade and innovate freely in general. Both sides agree that intrusive governmental intervention is clumsy and anti-freedom, is anti progress, and benefits nobody.

I believe the same standard should apply to cultural matters. Some regulation is required to maintain a free and fair playing field for everyone. For example, we need to have law and order, and some (including myself) would argue that we also need antidiscrimination laws and gun control. But all those things are based on a clear need to protect a free and fair playing field, and do not otherwise stifle innovation. Here, both left and right should reject heavy handed, intrusive regulation – like banning certain lifestyle choices, or banning gay adoption, for example, no matter how they feel about the subject personally, unless there is a clear consensus on the need for it, backed up by clear evidence, and in the service of freedom and fairness. Of course, I also believe unwarranted government monopolies, for example in the area of marriage, should also be abolished.

It is possible and desirable to have the same set of principles, based on freedom, for both the social and economic spheres. It is time we start thinking this way.