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…. is from Julian Adorney, writing for Ludwig von Mises Institute:
To defenders of the state, “anarchy” is a scary concept. They claim that we need government intervention to protect us or all hell will break loose. But in fact we live anarchy every day, in one of the most crucial aspects of our lives: dating. Every day people meet, date, have one-night stands, fall in love, and break up; all without government intervention.
Dating, while it rarely involves the direct exchange of money for services, is nonetheless a market just like the labor market. Interested parties seek mutually beneficial relationships with others, who have what they need and want what they offer. Single straight men, for instance, seek mutually enjoyable relationships with available straight women. If two people want a relationship with the same person, they’ll often fight for him; think The Bachelor. That mirrors how two employers who both want to hire the same employee might fight for her, for instance with a bidding war for her labor.
This dating market is almost pure anarchy. No government bureaucrat tells you who to date. Straight white women aren’t legally obligated to only date straight white men. While sexual conduct with minors is forbidden, anyone over age eighteen can date anyone else over age eighteen.
So why do statists allow anarchy in dating, while demanding government intervention elsewhere?
Partly, they believe that dating is too personal for government agents to get involved. And it is. One’s relationship with a significant other reflects unique and private aspects of one’s life, and is no business of the government. But this argument falls flat, because dating is not the only element of one’s life that is personal. So is a person’s job, where he or she pours time into learning what is necessary to create a product or service of value. Many people spend forty hours a week — almost one-quarter of one’s life — working. A career, just like a relationship, often reflects unique values and ideas and passions. It is every bit as personal as one’s dating life.
So, too, is a choice of one’s car personal. So are the illicit substances that some people choose to ingest. So is one’s decision to use types of medicine the FDA frowns on. If we accept that personal matters should not be regulated, than we must apply that lesson to most human behavior.
Partly, statists believe that government regulations in the dating market would do more harm than good. And they would. But if laws against break-ups are so absurd, are laws against firing — against ending the formerly-mutually-beneficial financial relationship between two people — any less absurd? If laws dictating that you must date a man (or woman) of a certain government-approved caliber would be insulting, are laws dictating that you must work only for certain government-approved wages any less so? Both trample human agency and restrict our choices “for our own good.”
Inherently, we realize that government rules around dating would be absurd. We realize that government agents have no business forcing themselves into our private lives, and how their attempts to do so in the marriage market just make things worse. We realize how feeble the claim is that government needs to set up rules and regulations because private actors cannot do so. Isn’t it time we applied those realizations to other markets?
MP: The average American, perhaps because the majority of their education has been administered by unionized public school teachers in a near-monopoly educational system largely insulated from competition, has been indoctrinated over many generations to distrust the market and the free association of human beings, and taught to believe that government intervention is necessary in every aspect of our lives: which intoxicants we’re legally allowed to ingest, which businesses and occupations can legally operate with special permission slips from the government, what prices/wages employers, buyers and sellers are legally allowed to charge/offer without violating government regulations like ticket scalping laws, predatory pricing laws and price gouging laws, etc. And yet the “dating market” operates very efficiently without any government regulation or oversight. How many other markets could likewise operate without any government intervention or government price/wage controls? Why not the market for unskilled labor, the market for scarce resources during shortages that result from natural disasters, the market for tickets to sporting and musical events, the market for hairbraiding, horse massage, or plumbing services, the market for transportation by taxis and ride-sharing services, the market for lemonade, the market for bake sales, the market for “little free libraries”, the market for food trucks, and the market for renting your spare bedroom, etc.?
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