Does the free market really work?

When it comes to wages I don’t really think so. Is a good teacher really worth less than a bad baseball player? Is a soldier worth less than a talk show host?

What specifically has the free market solved without any regulatio?

Hey blinkie, I am not an economist, but I think its the problem of us as a society that causes the issue mainly, because we have distorted views of what something is worth.

Whaddya mean, does it “work”? What’s it supposed to be doing?

It’s astoundingly good at creating wealth and that is all it is good for. Not that this should be downplayed, but one cannot rely on an unregulated free market to achieve other social aims.

In your examples, the answer is there are a heckuva lot more teachers and soldiers than there are even mediocre major-league grade ballplayers and (I guess) talk show hosts. They’re a rarer commodity that’s in demand so they can command a higher price. Read no social value judgment into it.

You’re mixing two meanings of the word worth. In economic terms, a bad baseball player is worth more than a good teacher, almost by definition, since he gets paid more. The free market is not meant to generate wage levels that match up with an external view of what work is worth on some moral level.

And really where are you going to find a free market? Western democracies have markets that are tremendously influenced by government intervention. Work in an unfavored industry - your fucked your job is going overseas, be an executive with a major financial institution don’t worry the government will use taxpayers money to prop you up. And it all filters down. Without the artificial assistance provided to the companies that ultimately pay the athletes, one of the first things to hit the skids in the GFC would have been professional sports.

“It’s astoundingly good at creating wealth”

At who’s expense? Is the creation of wealth all it’s about?
It seems to me that’s all it’s created and that’s why we’re in this terrible mess.

Economics started as a sub-specialty of philosophy. It’s meant to make the world a better and happier place. In that, the free market has been the only bit of philosophy yet shown to actually work.

The free market (aka capitalism) is meant to achieve a particular purpose. Initiating checks to make sure that it is acting as it is meant to is forgivable. Most specifically, people need to be able to have the basic information on what they are buying, and that that information be factual.

The graph of life expectancy from your own website doesn’t really show anything. Life expectancy when up in the 1800s but it shows no correlation to the free market. That chart just as easily could have been for indoor plumbing.

Your examples are more about fairness versus supply and demand. In a “fair” world people might be paid on the basis of how much good they do or bring to the world, and in that world I definitely see teachers making more than baseball players or soldiers making more than talk show hosts. But the free market dictates that there are a lot more people in the world that can be teachers than can be professional baseball players, hence the baseball players are worth more since their supply is lower.

I think the free market really limits a lot of people from flooding the higher-paying jobs simply because they don’t have the skill set to do jobs that pay a lot. If being a teacher paid as much as being a baseball player, there’d be a massive amount of people becoming teachers, which would flood the market and then make them less valuable.

Standards of living are higher now than they have ever been ever ever ever. Which terrible mess are you referring to?

Which is also thanks to the free market.

If you want people to band together with people they don’t like, you’ve got to give them an incentive. If you want people to work off of other peoples’ technologies rather than try and reinvent the wheel, you need to give them an incentive. If you want to produce and market a new product, you need capital. If you want to be able to rely on all the incentives actual coming into being, you need individual ownership. If you want to have the freedom to try something new, you need to be trusted as an individual of his own merit, rather than as someone of a particular class.

Without money, private ownership, and loans you don’t get technological improvement and coordinated hierarchies built around providing and improving particular products.

Technology didn’t improve beyond the ability to smelt a handful of metals, concrete, and arches in a period of 10,000 years. In 250 years we’ve blown all of that away by such significant amounts that it’s simply ludicrous to think that something didn’t happen right then.

A million consumers with free will to make buying choices of education vs NBA games says that a teacher is worth less than a pro basketball player.

You have to ask why a million people collectively choose to pay basketball players more than teachers. Supply and demand is part of the reason.

Imagine 2 events to choose from with tickets that costs the same ($50).

One event has 10 very good teachers teaching for 3 hours all sorts of topics such as biology, English, calculus, World history.
The other event has 10 NBA basketball players (2 teams of 5 players) playing for 3 hours.

Take a guess as to which event will have higher attendance and bring in more revenue. Does that answer your question why teachers are paid less?

The free market is good at establishing a price that people are willing to pay for things and for which they are willing to produce such things. That is what it does and that is all it does. It is not some evil thing anymore than gravity is. Note, by the way, that teacher and soldier salaries are more controlled by regulation than baseball player or talk show host salaries are.

As to whether we can rely on the free market to solve all our problems, that is as asinine as the notion that the free market is some evil conspiracy wrought by a bunch of cigar-smoking, fat, white guys in top hats and spats. It doesn’t deal well with externalities such as pollution or overfishing, but it can be useful in developing solutions for such issues (e.g. clean air futures).

The mess in our whole economic system. The unbridled greed on Wall Street that almost brought this country down.

Nice try with indoor plumbing though, the Romans gave us that.

Isn’t it the “unbridled greed” that is the problem, and not the free market?

The market does not prescribe values or morals. Maybe if the folks on Wall Street had parents that instilled better values in them, then they wouldn’t be so greedy…

Also note that a bad teacher and a good teacher are paid the same based on seniority. Same with a math (which is in more demand) and an English teacher.

BTW, an educated workforce is critical to building wealth in an economy, but since it doesn’t directly produce wealth, it is likely to be overlooked in a purely free-market economy. I, and I believe most economists, feel that public funding is necessary, but that doesn’t mean that market-oriented solutions can’t improve it.

I do get the analogy with the basketball on an economic level. From my viewpoint it’s a perfect example of why free markets DON’T work.

But they do in the sense that Michael Jordan (I don’t follow sports, so I don’t know any current players) makes more than (insert shitty player here).

Free markets are stifled when it comes to what to pay teachers and a little more market-orientation would be a good thing IMHO.

What are you proposing instead?