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It seems to me that most anti-market voices actually DO understand and appreciate the “virtues” of competition. My sense is that they only see the force of competition working in some places and not others. Think of the fears that some people have from open immigration. Think of the fears people have with the “deskilling” of the American labor force (or the implied worry that all of the new innovations are skill biased). What do these have in common? The commonality is a fear that “competition” among lots and lots and lots of workers is going to drive down wages and working conditions. Implicit in this view is that the institutions on the other side of the market, in this case firms, are going to benefit a great deal from this competition.

I wonder, then, why there is not much more focus on expanding competition among firms in order to improve working conditions and to make the products we get cheaper and better. And we don’t. Just think of the discussions surrounding medical care in the US. Almost the entire conversation is about providing subsidies for consumers of medical care and about how we pay for the care we get (single payer?). But virtually none of the discussion would involve deregulating the supply side in order to promote competition.

So, folks tend to be taking the idea and using it when convenient and discarding it when not. Do you know what would solve this problem? Competition in the world of ideas – but that is sort of lacking too.

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