One of the problems with the United States is that we don't have a free market, or rather we don't have free markets. There is a great deal of things that are free. such as weekly newspapers, and water from public drinking fountains, and sometimes rides on public transportation. But markets? Those are hella expensive. A market is one of the most expensive things you can buy. Land, structures, special equipment to hold your wares...buying a market is going to cost you in the high five figures, at least, and renting a market, even a modest one, is going to probably be your largest operating cost. Markets are not at all free.

For those of you who think I am being facetious, I am not at all. Much as in Free Software, the two different meanings of free are not always differentiated, and there are plenty of people who would not question the notion that legal regulation of the market is the only barrier to entry. In the real world (in this country), the largest barrier to entry to market is having a physical location in which to sell your products. As I have discussed, the price of capital is the major cost of selling, with the price of the good itself almost negligible. The major barrier to entry to market is that the small amount of profit that someone can make from selling goods makes it very difficult to pay for overhead.

Classical economic theory is based on traditional Anglo-Saxon philosophy, which views the world as a set of discrete entities working against a background that they can't change. What this translates into in economic terms is that the activities of producers and sellers, both large and small, don't effect the market, both in the abstract or real senses. In the real world, however, as a concrete example, the choicest places to sell your wares are limited. Having a good location to sell your products is not just a good, it is a pathway that allows people to access that good. The distinction is perhaps not made well enough in Anglo-Saxon based economic philosophies.

With all that theory being said, I wish to make a concrete example of what I am talking about. When I lived in Tainan, I noticed people selling lemons and other citrus fruits on the sidewalks for the equivalent of around 50 cents to a dollar a pound, US. From an American perspective, I at first assumed these people were down on their luck and would harass me to buy. I didn't notice such behavior, and actually, a few days later, when returning from 7-11 with some tea and Toberlone, I felt guilty at not trying to contribute to the local economy and tried to buy a lemon. They just laughed and said I could take it for free. Of course, towards me this was politeness towards guests, but on the whole, a merchant working out of a stall doesn't have to sell very agressively. They have no rent to pay, and thus they can sell the goods for close to their production costs.

It was not just produce for sale, either. In the way to class in the morning, I would pass vendors selling model airplanes and used books, sweaters, socks for children as well as (this was Tainan, after all) a large variety of food items. All of these things at costs even lower than was standard in Taiwan.

In the United States, there are all sorts of barriers to market, apart from the high cost of real estate caused by a cycle of capital inflation. In Portland a group of restaraunts has been trying to shut down cart vendors, claiming they offer unfair competition. It could be argued on any number of social, economic and political levels that the entry to market is blocked by a an old boys network in business and government. Some of this makes sense, in that there should be basic health, safety and environmental standards for businesess. After all, it does get a little annoying when you can't walk down the sidewalk without having to weave around some man's generator, truck and collection of cheap oil paintings. However, this should be balanced with people's rights to go into business for themselves without having to pay extortionary market entrance fees to the holders of capital.

Your body is your own, but your water belongs to the tribe. As a republic, you may or may not be guaranteed a living, but you should be given the opportunity to have the access (physical and otherwise) to use the land to expedite your buying and selling as neccesary.