I don’t believe in the Free Market. I’m not saying I’m against it, or feel that it is flawed, I honestly don’t believe that it exists. Or that it can exist for that matter. A Free Market is

an economic market operating by free competition

Thanks Merriam-Webster!

And the issue here is that it is impossible to establish or maintain such a thing. An unregulated market will begin to favor certain competitors, who will then derive greater and greater wealth from the market, which will be used in turn to start controlling elements of the market, by buying out competition, advertising more effectively, and undercutting costs. TADA! We now have a market in which competition is not free! It is regulated by those with access to money and influence! In no time at all, the market shifts from a land of consumer choice where quality and value are the primary determinants for success to a stratified market wherein consumers choice is consciously limited and directed by an oligarchy of economic powers. This is the inevitable result of a market without any oversight. The businesses involved are free, the consumer is not.

Conversely, an attempt can be made to keep the consumer free, able to make choices freely based on informed decisions and outlets that are reasonably accessible. These attempts are made by regulation of the market, through anti-trust laws, truth in advertising standards, and labeling and consumer education requirements. Of course, that produces what is generally understood as the opposite of a Free Market.

However, as established, this perceived dichotomy is inaccurate. Neither market is free in the way a Free Market is intended to be in the abstract. However, the Regulated Market favors the consumer, while ensuring that a healthy sustainable business is able to establish itself without fear of being quashed out of the gate as a potential competitor. Clearly, only in the Regulated Market are the ideals and outcomes behind the idea of a Free Market achievable.

The Free Market is a myth, a Platonic Ideal to which we will eternally fall short. However, rather than live in ignorance, while pretending this isn’t true, we can make useful, reasonable laws and regulations to preserve the intentions of a Free Market in a world that falls tragically short of sustaining one.