The amazing thing about the free market is the seemingly infinite customization. Take for instance automobiles. The last vehicle I purchased, I ordered directly from the factory. I listed every single detail and option that I desired and the factory built it specifically for me. This used to be the sort of luxury reserved only to the wealthy, but now anyone who makes the plunge for a new vehicle has that ability.
Unfortunately, there are many things which the market does not provide which would be a great convenience to us all. While many people label these as “failures of the free market”, the underlying issues are often far from free and do not originate in the market.
For example, I would love for my every movement to be monitored. Sounds weird, right? I suppose maybe I would opt for only my vehicle to be tracked, but even this is a little off the deep end considering the state of privacy (or lack thereof) in today’s advanced society. But when you really get right down to it, being tracked would actually be an enormous boon to each of us.
In my fantasy world, the whereabouts of my vehicle would be constantly tracked. As time progressed, my service provider—let’s call them Acme Tracking, Inc. or ATI—would be able to give me some very valuable tips. Like what? Well, let’s take a look.
Suppose I go to and from work at pretty much the same time over the same stretch of days. ATI could process my driving habits and inform me of faster and/or fuel-saving routes. On days of unusually high traffic volume or sudden delays, ATI could send a new route to the on-board map in my console or phone. They could monitor my fuel levels and habits and give me suggestions of when and where to fill up the tank in order to maximize efficiency. The sky is the limit!
Once back in reality, however, very few people would voluntarily submit to this sort of monitoring. The question is why not? I certainly cannot speak for everyone, but for quite a large number of us the answer is: government. We no sooner want to inform the IRS of every penny which we pick up off the ground (and thus technically should be included as income) as we would want Big Brother to watch our every move. After all, what business is it of the government where and when we travel?
On the other hand, if a company such as ATI actually existed, we could expect infinitely customized service. We might receive suggestions for new restaurants based on our history. We could be put in touch with individuals in our neighboring areas with whom we could carpool. The social networking mania could begin to integrate people with similar interests in close proximity to one another. I hope you get my point.
The problem, my friends, rests solely on the shoulders of the one institution which uses the threat of deadly force and coercion as its means of obtaining “customers”. That institution is, of course, government. Perhaps it can be tamed, perhaps not. But until there comes some serious and significant change, not a single one of us is free.