Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Won't somebody think of the free market?

The antics of college partisans are always cute, but the Minnesota College Republicans really are masters of the image event that backfires. I mean, who could forget their 2004 masterpiece shaming Matt Entenza for not shoveling his walk. And what a visual it was, when they showed up with media in tow to see a perfectly clear stretch of sidewalk. Zing!

While the cast of characters has changed since 2004, the same penchant for hackneyed protests has apparently remained strong among the MNCRs. This time, the eager puppies turned their boundless energy toward the College of St. Benedict's removal of bottled water from the bookstore and vending machines. CSB still permits bottled water on campus, they just don't sell it anymore. The problem? A violation of free market principles. Confused? Let Chairman Ryan Lyk explain:
“We are defending the free-market system. Our message to the administration is that college is a time for learning. If the students do not want to buy plastic water bottles, they are free not to do so. However, just as government should not ban plastic bottles in America, a school administration should not ban the sale of plastic water bottles on their campus.”
I'm pretty sure you can get your Milton Friedman secret decoder ring confiscated for this.

There's nothing free market about compelling a proprietor to sell a product. Let's say the vegan club organizes a protest on campus to decry a lack of vegan options in the bookstore's convenience food section. Would the MNCRs say that's a violation of the free-market system? 

I agree with Lyk, if students don't want to buy plastic water bottles, they are free not to do so. But the MNCRs are arguing for the converse of that statement: if a student wants to buy a bottle of water, it's the school's obligation to sell it. I don't think you'll find many free-marketeers to support that statement.

And of course, the student has a choice in the free market to attend CSB or to go elsewhere for their education. 

Actually, Tony Angelo said it best (and much more succinctly):

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