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To introduce Oliver Kamm to the concept of markets

Summary:
The point of a market - any market, in anything - is to swap one thing for another. The desirability of doing so can stem from all sorts of sources. Could be just that someone is better at something than another. Could be that government action is making such so. Could be a different method of organisation, natural endowments, prodnoses banning something, but the secret to the market part is the swap and nothing else.Mr Johnson’s big idea is that Remain and Leave voters should unite to ensure that Britain takes advantage of regulatory divergence from the EU and creates a prosperous future. It’s a preposterous notion. Mr Johnson appears unaware that regulation in tradable goods and services exists for reasons entirely unrelated to bureaucratic meddling by Brussels. Standards in food safety,

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The point of a market - any market, in anything - is to swap one thing for another. The desirability of doing so can stem from all sorts of sources. Could be just that someone is better at something than another. Could be that government action is making such so. Could be a different method of organisation, natural endowments, prodnoses banning something, but the secret to the market part is the swap and nothing else.

Mr Johnson’s big idea is that Remain and Leave voters should unite to ensure that Britain takes advantage of regulatory divergence from the EU and creates a prosperous future. It’s a preposterous notion. Mr Johnson appears unaware that regulation in tradable goods and services exists for reasons entirely unrelated to bureaucratic meddling by Brussels. Standards in food safety, product safety and financial services are there to protect consumers.

British commerce is currently able to sell to EU countries unhindered by tariffs or non-tariff barriers. The EU is not just a free trade area but a single market. If you make a virtue of not adhering to common standards with Britain’s closest trading partners, you’d better have a good idea of what will replace that relationship.

We've regularly pointed out around here that markets in forms of organisation are just as important as any other. We're entirely fine with the idea that cooperatives, or other forms of communal, even socialist, organisation will outperform, in certain circumstances or sectors, more capitalist forms. Even that the State does some things better than non-state actors. Our point always being that we've got to have a market in such things so that we can see which is doing it better.

Exactly and entirely the same is true of regulation and standards. Once we get past the basics already there in common law - don't poison the consumers sort of things, possibly harms to third parties - then we positively don't want the one set of rules. We want the competition to see which actually is better, we need the market.

To take just the one example, current EU law states that a vacuum cleaner with an engine (hmm, technical things aren't quite our bag, motor?) over a certain power may not be sold. We'll never know whether people want one such unless they're allowed to express that preference by buying one, will we? That is, without competing regulatory systems, one which allows and another which does not, we'll never know which system works - "work" being, as always, defined as what makes the consumers as rich as it is possible for them to be?

Far from UK regulation diverging from EU being a problem with Brexit it's actually one of the major points and purposes of the process.  

Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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