Things are what they are, not their opposite. Can we accept that as a starting point?
Not if we’re scoring ideological points regardless of the cost to clarity.
Newsweek calls drug-war violence in Long Island “a harrowing example of free-market, laissez-faire capitalism.” To this, Cato Institute’s David Boaz objects that “the competition between the local Crips and Bloods [is described] in terms not usually seen in articles about, say, Apple and Microsoft or Ford and Toyota.”
Under a truly free market, the rights of buyers and sellers to peaceably trade are legally protected from theft and violence, and their contracts defended from fraud. Black markets, on the other hand, are made up of illegal exchanges, actively prohibited trade.
Sure, black-market trade has something in common with legal trade. As with legal exchanges, persons willingly participate in black-market trades and expect to benefit.
But economic activity that can easily get you jailed is fundamentally different in just this respect from that conducted in a relatively laissez-faire context.
The difference has consequences.
You can’t go to court if you have a grievance with a black-market trading partner or competitor. And persons less scrupulous, more violent, more criminal than the norm tend to be disproportionately represented among sellers of illegal goods that have especially big markups precisely because they’re illegal.
So Boaz is right.
The legal capitalism at K-Mart, J. C. Penny, or a post-Prohibition-Era liquor store isn’t fertile ground for the gang warfare invited by the War on Drugs. We can’t tell the difference, though, if we ignore the difference.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.