I think I finally figured out why I’m not a fan of “the free market” or “market forces.” In a capitalist society, the market and its forces are built around what people want, not what people need. You don’t need a free market to tell you what people need. Competition isn’t a driving force behind the fact that I need air, food, water, and shelter. Competition and markets are built entirely to serve the desires of people. If markets are driven around demand, then how could they address the needs of people? It’s kind of a forgone conclusion that as a living human being I need food to eat or that I’ll get sick and require some form of healthcare. Saying “the demand for food” or “the demand for water” seems like a rather redundant thing to say.
Our desire for convenience gave rise to the massive amount of plastic refuse floating around in the ocean right now. Is there really a human need for disposable plastic bags or bottles? No, of course not. Obviously, plastic does have practical uses. However, the market has taken plastic and used it fulfill a desire, one that directly conflicts with our interests when it comes to the ecosystems that sustain us. Because if there’s one thing we can depend on, it’s that what people desire often conflicts with that they need.