The above line comes from an interview in the New York Times with Noel Biderman, the CEO of a very controversial company—AshleyMadison.com, the “Match.com” for married folks looking to have an affair. I’m not commenting on the business itself—well, maybe a little, at the end — but really on one small part that I think appropriately sums up the free market and how we should be dealing with each other:
Q. If someone in your neighborhood opened up a controversial business — a porn shop or a gun store or an abortion clinic — what would be your reaction?
A. Depending on the business, I wouldn’t patronize it. I would choose to vote with my dollars. I wouldn’t protest.
Look at that. “I wouldn’t patronize it,” he says. “I would choose to vote with my dollars,” he says. “I wouldn’t protest,” he says. Really, in a free market, that’s all you have to do.
So many people out there in the world today fail to see what power they hold by virtue of being consumers. Although in the past two decades, big businesses have worked harder than ever to appropriate government power to thwart consumers, it remains that you are the most powerful person the marketplace. Businesses live and die by the money in your wallet. If you choose not to patronize them, they shrivel up and cease to exist.
If you think about it, businesses are slaves to the consumer masses.
It’s true that we need to clean up and out all the cronyism in the modern economy. There can be no doubt that rules and regulations created by lobbyists and passed by legislators hurts our economy, hurts the free market, and most importantly hurts the free choices of consumers. But aside from that, just on a philosophical level, the free market is the most empowering system we have—period.
This man gets it. I don’t know why so many other folks don’t.
Though there is one thing he probably doesn’t get:
I also didn’t realize how much this business would need public defending. I didn’t intend to be the face of this business.”
You make a dating site for married people and you don’t get how this “would need public defending”?