Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Not-So-Free Market

How many times must it be said? You cannot, and should not, be penalized for refusing to participate in commerce, or likewise restricted in doing so. We have already seen, and continue to see, this argument play out most recently in the courts concerning the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”). Free-market capitalism depends on this dynamic in order for it to work as it should in creating a competitive environment.

On a more general level, apparently businesses that refuse to do business with a customer now warrants fines and penalties. Not saying it is right, but it is a business' right to refuse to do business with a customer for whatever reason in a free-market economy. Same as customers have the right never to do business with them again. I mean, why would you even want to do business with someone who is discriminatory toward you? I certainly would not want to give my business to them. That is the part I never understand. If a business in some way makes a customer not feel wanted or appreciated, guess what most normal people do? Take their business elsewhere, because it is a free-market economy with plenty of other businesses more than happy to have it.

Imagine, if you will, a person who does not want to associate with someone because of their differing beliefs and values. I think it is safe to say that a majority of people have come to that crossroad at least once in their lifetime. As such, you probably would be okay with that individual making that decision, right? Now imagine that "person" is a it still ok? Or no? See, the argument is not whether it is right or wrong for anyone - or in the latter case, any entity - to deny the association, but rather if we, as a collective body, have the right to dictate right or wrong over whom one chooses to associate. We do not have that right, equally as much as any individual or business holds the right, if they so choose, not to engage in commerce with a particular entity or group of customers. While that might seem antithetical to the basic tenets of capitalism, it is their choice to conduct themselves in such a manner.  

On a personal level, apparently being a faithful, albeit casual, eBay seller with a stellar performance rating for over a decade means squat. Currently, I am trying to sell a prized collectible of high value, but the company instituted a “seller limit” a few years ago. Whatever is meant by that anti-capitalism sounding restriction. Meanwhile several people with less years and less items sold but similar rating as me have the exact same item for sale at the similar amount that I wish to list. Thus, I requested an increase to my limit to match their same level; they refused, based on a case-by-case determination that they could not relent on. In essence, they are hindering my ability to engage in free-market commerce because I am only a casual seller who has not reached their mandated arbitrary plateau. 

My dad - like Jack Lemmon's George Kellerman in the movie, Out-of-Towners - always maintained a figurative “little black book” of businesses that pissed him off, and then never did business with them again. I have become the same way (sans black book), but more people should learn that lesson. 

©2015 Steve Sagarra

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