< meta name="DC.Date.Valid.End" content="20050825"> Amendment Nine: More on Race, Less on Bennet

Friday, October 07, 2005

More on Race, Less on Bennet

In previous posts I took Bill Bennet to task for his recent comments. Some readers were happy about that, and some upset. Others decided to "kick it up a notch" as Emeril might say, and make the most out of a bad situation. A co-contributor, Mitya K, commented that perhaps a "lowest" caste or class is a necessary component of any capitalist society. He seemed to imply that the market system required a separate group of labor to be exploited. Sounds a little like Marx, though I doubt Mitya is arguing for a communist system. Needless to say, it was an interesting comment.

I've endeavored to think of what would be the smallest possible free market society. Modeled in a sense on Plato's "necessary only" society in the Republic, I figured a setting like this might prove fruitful as a backdrop to Mitya's intriguing hypothesis. Of course, Socrates focused on certain skills or techne necessary for a city. Free market economies work regardless of the skills (supposedly) and regardless of size. The critical components, beyond humans, are rules, infrastructure, and currency. Which rules, which infrastructure, and which currency?

Clearly we need a system of rules that protect rights in property and allow for the freedom individual choice. That is the barebones requirement. As for infrastructure, whatever systems are necessary to create a space where buyers and sellers can meet. And lastly, whatever is necessary for value to be exchanged freely is all that is necessary for currency.

So, readers, assume we have the most minimal rules which allow for rights in property and for freedom of individual choice. Assume further we have only the most minimal trading space necessary for buyers and sellers to make and fill orders, and that the most minimal recognition of value is freely exchanged. Where does the requirement for an exploited, marginalized class of labor come in?