Simple as that.
There is no such thing as a "free market." Period.
There never has been, there never will be.
Its a fairy tale.
Yet another conservative myth.
The very idea is 100% bullshit.
It might be possible, theoretically at least, that a truly "free market" could exist, if we're talking about something like the public market square of a village with a hundred people or fewer in it where everyone knows and trusts each other. But in any thing larger, like -- just to pull an example out of the air -- a nation of 300+ million people? Forget about it.
Of course, the truth is that the very same people who so aggressively promote the idea of a "free market" are actually the last people on Earth who actually want such a thing: the corporate conservatives and the professional politicians that the corporates have bought and paid for. These folks don't really want a "free market." They want a rigged market. And the truth is, that's pretty much what they have.
Of course, they can (and do) think of ways to make it even more rigged in their favor, which is what they truly want: a world where Big Business owns and runs the world, and where government -- the only entity with the power to counter and put controls on Big Business -- is small enough to "drown in a bathtub." (At least when it comes to regulating business; Big Business loves it when government promotes the interests of Big Business.)
So what do Big Business corporate conservatives actually mean when they talk about a "free market?"
Glad you asked.
What they mean is that corporations should be free to do whatever they want. They should be free to sell anything, anywhere, without any concern over whether the product is harmful, toxic, or dangerous. What they mean is that corporations should be free to enslave their workers and not have to pay them a living wage, or pay them at all, in fact. Corporations should be free to demand utter loyalty from their workers, while returning no loyalty whatsover to those same workers. They believe that corporations should be free to extract, exploit, subjugate, and monopolize whenever they want to do so. Corporations should be free from any sort of tax burden, and from government regulation, and responsibility for any damage they cause. They believe that corporations should be free to buy and sell politicians in order to control the government. And they believe that corporations should be free to eliminate the competition using any means necessary.
When conservatives talk about the "free market," it's simply code phrases for the Big Business concept of Heaven: a world in which Big Business does what it wants, any time, all the time. Of course, this would be Hell for everyone else. And by "everyone else" I include smaller businesses, because the truth is such a world would be a killing field. The moment a small business poked its head out of its hole, Big Business would swoop in like a hawk and devour it. As for the workers and the consumers, the "free market" envisioned by the giant multi-national corporations would make them hardly better than slaves. Such people would be free to accept their lot and nothing else.
You say one of their products blew up in your face and left you blind? Prove it wasn't your own fault!
You say unsafe working conditions led to your husband getting killed? Try sueing us. We dare you; not only won't your "frivolous lawsuit" get anywhere in the courts, we might send some guys over to your daughter's elementary school so she can send a message back home to mommy and daddy for us about how its smarter to not make waves.
In such a world, parastic banks would run wild with speculation, buying and selling without constraint and inventiing all manner of financial "instruments" which which to dissect their customers and relieve them of money, security, and future. The privatization of anything and everything would run rampant in the conservative wet dream of a "free market."
How about a quick game of "let's pretend". Let's pretend such a world came about. What, exactly, would that lead to?
First off, the goal of the corporate conservative's "free market" is to assume all the powers of government and then take those powers to the limit, including total control and exploitation of the people. So say goodbye to freedom, democracy, the vote, and the ability to decide for yourself how your life will go from then on. Your electricity, gas, and water wouldn't come from public utilities, but from predatory corporations who can raise the rates or cut you off whenever they feel the whim. Toll roads and bridges would proliferate. The court system would be privatized, with a strong profit incentive to lock as many people away in the privately run prisons as possible. Wars would be completely privatized, with a strong profit motive to keep the fighting going as long as possible, and to use up the weapons and equipment so as to create a need for more. Education would be privatized, with only the wealthy getting more than just the basic training. Public schools would become indoctrination centers where children are taught to be barely literate worker bees or soldiers for the state and its corporate overlords.
Think about how much money the very rich could squeeze from the lower classes with such limitless power.
Without government subsidies, price controls, and regulations, food production would become wholly predatory. Prices would skyrocket. Food quality and safety would plummet. Only the rich would be able to afford clean, healthy food; the rest of us would have to settle for the cheap stuff and take our chances with every bite we eat or drop we drink. That's assuming we could afford any food or water in the first place. Scavenging, begging, and starving would become a way of life for billions of people. And health care? Sorry, but with no government assistance, no government health programs, disease would explode into pandemics. Of course, the wealthy would protect themselves by ghettoizing the poor. No need for them to worry, though, because even if the disease does make it to them, they have all the doctors.
The problem is that even a system where the very rich control everything and fuck the poor, it all falls apart very quickly. Unregulated capitalism eventually eats itself. When the poor and the middle class disappear, the profits the rich depend on also disappear. But the corporate conservatives, who are all about instant gratification and getting the short term gain, know that trillions upon trillions of dollars are to be made by the greatest pirates the world has ever seen. And as long as they're making tons of money now, they give fuck all about what happens tomorrow. Not their problem, man. They've made their fat stacks of cash, and that's all that matters.
That's the free market in a nutshell. A truly free market is a recipe for utter disaster should it ever be imposed. Its a beast that would tear the goose that laid the golden eggs to pieces.
Little by little over the past 30 years, the corporate conservatives have managed to nudge us further and further in the direction of their wet dream. Since the Reagan administration, the conservative mantra has been "government is the problem, not the solution." Its become commonly accepted wisdom among the less intelligent members of the population (almost all of whom are social conservatives). According to this philosophy, the solution to the "government problem" is the free market. Conservatives have been bleating this same noise for decades, and millions upon millions of people believe it. As Joseph Goebbels correctly stated, "people will believe anything if you repeat it often enough." This has always been the tactic of the very richest in order to gain the support of the rest of us in order to cripple the only thing powerful enough to stop them: a government run by We the People...
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Since Ronald Reagan, the "free market" has had 30 years to produce the results that the corporate conservatives always promise: that great wealth will come "trickling down" to everyone. Jobs galore will be available, and everyone will enjoy improvements to their basic standard of living.
Anyone else but me notice that this just hasn't happened?
Seriously, for three decades, taxes have been slashed for the richest Americans. Deregulation is the rule, dramatically reducing safeguards in every sector of business. Competent government regulators have been replaced by capitalist foxes who are supposed to be guarding the henhouse. The "free market" ethos has been applied to an extent that would have left the people who led this country out of the Great Depression stunned in sheer disbelief. And this same thing has happened in countries all around the world, not just the United States.
What has actually happened is the reverse of what the conservatives behind the "Reagan Revolution" promised. Real wages and the earning power of the average American family has stalled out if not reversed. Prices have zoomed upward to the point where decent housing, health care, and college educations are beyond the reach of over half the population. For the first time in American history, the greater majority of people in this country face the prospect that their children will have worse lives than they led, and that their grand-children will have lives that are even worse than that.
This is what the "free market" has done to America. Imagine how much worse it would be if the market were even more "free" than it already is.