Neoliberals do not know what markets look like
from Merijn Knibbe
Exchange takes place without any specification of its institutional setting. We have consumers without humanity, firms without organizations,and even exchange without markets.
I love markets. I love businesses. My family background: the so called ‘Kleine luyden’, ‘Small people’ who had all kinds of business: farming, small scale real estate, groceries, transport, meat – you name it. I recall going to the vegetable auction, sitting in the back of a truck with my nephews, watching the auctioneer and coming back with loads of radishes, cabbages - you name it. This world has largely vanished.
Having children in the back of a truck will earn you a fine, transporting vegetables in the same truck is sub-standard hygiene and will earn you a fine, small groceries and farms are not efficient anymore. None of the people mentioned above got rich, by the way. Comfortable: yes; rich: no. Well, that’s not entirely true. Some did strike it rich. Not because they worked hard and smart and owned a business – but because they owned land, near the sprawling city of Amsterdam. Right below the Amsterdam beltway for instance. No auctioneer there, by the way. The city just expropriates the land, pays a generous price, delays the plan so you can still use the land for free for many years – but there’s nothing which you can call a market.
One of the things these businesses tought me is that there is no such thing as ‘General Equilibrium’. Often, people earn or loose money not because they work hard and smart to fulfill the needs of others – but just by sheer coincidence.
P.S. – is there some nostalgia in this article? Sure. But we do our shoppings at the Lidl, a kind of European Walmart (but cheaper). And not at the organic food store – can’t pay.