Cherry, having read your comment, the main thing that stood out to me was this: the fogginess of the term “market.” I think I might be using the word more abstractly in my essay than you are. For you, a market appears to be focused more on trade and private enterprise. For me, it involves a gaggle of concepts, such as competition, innovation, and provision of utility.

For example, I would contend that there is some level of competition for the U.S. government. Maybe the state itself is not up for consideration, but the regime that control the state sure is. While you cannot go out and vote every single day and constantly modify the government like that, I do not see how this fails to show that market forces can apply to the government. It just means they apply to more slowly.

Where exactly would you make that cutoff? Conventions (like ComiCon) often only occur once per year, and yet there is a lot of trade that goes on at these. Some people build their whole careers around being successful at these conventions. Even the stock market is closed at night. Does it cease to be a market when it is not open 24/7? That is something to consider, I feel.

Plus, if governments were subjected to the same market forces as companies, then they too should be blinded by the goal of efficiency, no? Its rather conflicting, these two trains of thoughts.

I tried to explain this with how the government has an eye for the collective, which no business has. As such, it is going to notice problems that the factory polluting the river is unable or less likely to notice. Does this mean that government is never blind to something? No. After all, we lack a global state, so most governments have some blindspots to global issues, and we currently do not have many good ways of addressing that challenge.

In spite of this, the government has a far better field of vision than any consumer or producer of private goods does, and so they can plan for things at the collective level better. The trick, then, is to know when to collectivize without micromanaging the economy.

If I can summarise your other point, it is to say that inventions that have generally been regarded as a boon to society have been serendipitous (that is, having been come upon by happy chance), and that most private companies have not the wisdom to understand this. Insofar as this is your point, I agree. But it was then concluded that the government has the wisdom, almost as a logical corollary.

You are certainly correct to say that most companies are blind to serendipity, and that is how the cycle of profitable megacorps is renewed. Nonetheless, for every government-funded example of serendipity, one could parry with a privately funded example. Think Pasteur.

Pasteur is a good example of (perhaps) a happy exception. It is true that private individuals may make the same useful mistakes and discover something, but they are less eager to wade into that, generally speaking. Most major breakthroughs in the 20th Century happened with the assistance of the government, and it is generally unlikely that someone, beyond an enthusiast with a fat wallet, is going to make most of those accidental achievements in science. Even the University of Strasbourg, which employed Pasteur, has received significant support from governments during its lifetime.

It would be hard to get support for the sciences without an active state, and while firms would eventually learn the secrets of the universe on their own, they would be much slower at it, and any way that they make up for lost time would probably come at the cost of ethical conduct in research and experimentation.

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