No One Makes You Shop At Wall Mart: The Surprising Deceptions Of Individual Choice

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Slee, Tom. 2006. No One Makes You Shop At Wall Mart: The Surprising Deceptions Of Individual Choice. Between The Lines.

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Description

Tom Slee's easy to read game-theoretic description of how MarketThink, the dogma of individual choice, does not lead to optimal outcomes.

The major theme of this book is that "individual choice" is an unreliable and treacherous guide in our pursuit of prosperity and happiness. "Individual choice" has been a propaganda staple of MarketThink.

Tom's major points:

Individual choice does not give us what we want.
Simple prisoner's dilemma and commons examples show that group choices can be better choices, even when individuals are rational.
Freedom of choice promotes the private, degrades the public.
This is the classic "privatize the profits, socialize the costs."
Freedom of choice produces inequality based not on merit, but on luck.
Because it produces a winner-take-all society, with rewards out of proportion to effort and benefit.
Freedom of choice does not preclude the exercise of power.
Collective action and collective choice are legitimate values too.
Freedom of choice does not preclude exploitation.
"Free exchange" gives the lion's share of the benefits to whichever party can more easily walk away from a deal.
Predictability drives out quality.
The market for lemons causes deadweight losses.
Social exclusion is self-sustaining.
Breaking barriers of exclusion is costly for defectors, maintaining the exclusion. Very similar to the prisoners dilemma.

Highly recommended.

Links

MarketThink (2 links)
MarketThink is a term coined by Tom Slee for the ideology of markets as ideal solutions for all problems. The first corollary is that problems markets cannot solve are ignored, dismissed, or considered unimportant. The second corollary is that government and other social choice opposes the benefits of markets.

Quotations

MarketThink is guaranteed to erode public space and public goods in the city.
Tom Slee, "No One Makes You Shop At Wall Mart: The Surprising Deceptions Of Individual ChoiceNo One Makes You Shop At Wall Mart: The Surprising Deceptions Of Individual Choice" pg. 63.
Competition and variety are also public goods: by their nature, neither can be provided by a single store. Jack never explicitly chooses to have a narrower choice of places to shop, and yet he and others like him contribute directly to the problems of the downtown stores. [That are failing due to big-box stores.]
Tom Slee, "No One Makes You Shop At Wall Mart: The Surprising Deceptions Of Individual ChoiceNo One Makes You Shop At Wall Mart: The Surprising Deceptions Of Individual Choice" pg. 59