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Neodoxy wrote Monopoly Price
on Mon, Nov 14 2011 4:49 PM
It is a strong statement but I think it's pretty obvious after reading the chapter. I haven't covered MES as many times as I would like to (I'm going back fairly soon and re-reading it, I'll tell you if my opinion changes) I've only actually read it once but I still believe that I understand his argument. The problem is that Rothbard spends several sections, between a fourth and a third of the chapter, talking about (without directly using the term "morality") the morality of monopolies. This is out of place in such a work and should not take more than perhaps 6 or 7 pages explaining that whatever people do in a free market is none of the business of anyone else. This is all well and good, however he spends too much time on it which detracts from the ultimate issue. He then goes on to point out some very good economic facts about monopolies: 1. Even if production is restricted through a monopoly price all that happens is that these resources go into their next most demanded area of production so there is no massive loss 2. Monopolies that are caused by trademark are the fault entirely of the consumer accepting higher prices for a specific product that no one else can replicate even given total freedom. (Rice Crispys sell at a higher price than the knock-off cereal crispy rice) 3. A monopoly in and of itself need not imply a monopoly price, if the firm fears competition or the demand curve is shaped at a certain angles then it will reach a price close to, or nearing the "competitive price" 4. In the past the commonality and abuses of monopolies in a free market have been grossly overstated 5. Government intervention surrounding monopolies is likely to harm efficient firms, increase uncertainty, and increase inefficiency through regulation and buy offs These are terrific points that need to be stated, Mises would not have said anything else and addressed several of these things in more or fewer words in Human Action. Where Rothbard goes off the deep end is on two points: 1. The existence of monopoly price. Rothbard argues that because we cannot know what the competitive price is, that we cannot say what is and what is not a monopoly price and what is not. He then goes on to denounce the idea of a free market monopoly price altogether. This is childish, simply because you cannot point at something does not mean that it does not exist. Can you point out society to me? No, not really it's an abstract concept. Does that mean it doesn't exist? Before the invention of finely tuned instruments we could not see air as such, does that mean that it doesn't exist? No. The fact is that a firm in a free market which does not fear competition can restrict production for a higher price in some situations. Rothbard obviously did not want to come to this conclusion because this would mean that the free market is not perfect and there is a case for government regulation, no matter how slim considering the points addressed above. I'll finish this later but right now I have to run, this should give you some idea about what I mean though.