Sunday, November 27, 2011

St. James Bazaar and the Free Market

The annual St. James Bazaar is a testament to prosperity when there is absence of government regulation.

st james bazaar 2011

It's a good feeling to see entrepreneurs have a venue to voluntarily exchange with consumers without the unnecessary taxes or red tapes of government. Usually, to start a business, you'd need a DTI permit, mayor's permit, BIR permit, BFAD and health permit (for food vendors), and many other licenses and clearances that are disguised under the motive of "protecting consumers".

In reality though, all this does is increase costs and taxes (without transparency, who's to say that most of these won't go straight to the pockets of bureaucrats), lower wages and job opportunities, increase prices, create more bureaucracy and government spending (in spite of trillions already in debt), and inevitably kills small businesses.

The philosophy of liberty states that two people who exchange property voluntarily are both better off or else they wouldn't do it. While I was there a while ago, there wasn't really anyone pointing a gun at me and forcing me to buy anything (only the government does that; ie. SSS, pag-ibig, and other mandates and taxes). This is what libertarians usually refer to when we differentiate voluntary from coercive.

In this scenario, the profit incentive and competition will force suppliers to provide better quality services and lower prices. Those that are innovative and provide good service will have the patronage of consumers and will be rewarded by the market. Those who are fraudulent or provide low quality service will lose their customers, be outsold by competition, and inevitably be forced to shutdown (unless, as I have said, they provide better services and/or lower prices).

We don't need big brother to tell us what to buy or not buy. Forcing this issue will only lead to further deterioration of our economy.

Look at Hong Kong or Singapore, allowing themselves to be the bazaar of the world with their low taxes and minimal red tapes and bureaucracies, very attractive to investors and businesses. Look at how prosperous they are.

If you liked this post then you might also like:
1. The Singapore Argument
2. The Muntinlupa Government's Spirit of Christmas
3. Why is the Internet Slow in the Philippines?

Friday, November 18, 2011

On Meeting Kevin Duewel of Students for Liberty

Got a chance to meet Kevin Duewel of Students for Liberty with fellow libertarians from here in the Philippines.

He mentioned the importance of having think tanks or institutions like Minimal Government Thinkers. And it's true, Nonoy Oplas, the head of MG Thinkers, is always inviting me to different events or forums including meetings with people from different international organizations such as the one I'm talking about right now and it's really a great learning experience and a way to meet other individuals interested in liberty.

Kevin also reported the success of IDEAS in Malaysia and the significance and role of organizations like Atlas Network or Cato Institute in defending liberty worldwide. It is very encouraging to know that although we are very few here in the Philippines, there are many organizations in other parts of the world that are growing and getting results when it comes to promoting libertarianism and changing public perceptions.

It was interesting that we discussed how we all have "real lives" in a way that writing about or promoting libertarianism will not really pay the bills. It is something we do out of pleasure much like an intellectual play of sorts. And it is very true that I enjoy the company of passionate libertarians because it is a way of taking a break from the typical statists I encounter every day. During a few drinks with some of them after the meeting, we even concluded that the only consolation we get, in place of being marginalized and unpopular, is knowing that we don't have the pretense of knowledge of those who worship the status quo haha.

Spicy beef stuffed with cheese (I forgot the actual name of the dish)

At one point during the discussion, we discussed strategy and approach in promoting liberty. The ideas were very interesting. One was to appeal to common problems society is facing right now, a more targeted approach, and provide libertarian solutions. It does make sense because many will be surprised at how much in common they have with libertarianism and how much of it has been misinterpreted. 

Take this interesting article on Students for Liberty, for instance, about Libertarian Occupy Wall Street Demands: very different from the mainstream statist/socialist demands but are reasonable alternative rebuttals against the same problem. 

It's always nice to meet new friends from other parts of the world who are fighting for the same principles. Students for Liberty is a non-government organization that focus on helping liberty-minded individuals and groups in the US and all over the world.