Free Market Madness Review Essay

Submitted By esmith6
Words: 1558
Pages: 7

Free Market Madness “Highlights Statement” Peter A. Ubel’s Free Market Madness is an informational and thorough discussion of the great responsibilities and effects that come from a free market economy. The rational decision making that is made within the economy gives off both the freedom to choose and the vice of dealing with the consequences of our decisions. The novel starts off with a simple anecdote that shows just how the evolution of the free market has affected not only business, but the health of its people as well. The story starts with a man named John who was once a promising athlete in his youth, who is now living with diabetes. Because of the free market and the availability of modern medicine, this man has survived longer that his past relatives afflicted with the disease. Ubel goes on to trace the steps in which the tools that John uses to survive are developed, manufactured, and transported to the desired customers. This is just one example that Ubel uses to draw up the scheme of the open market. This part of the book touches on two main points that I found very interesting to start with; the effects on the free market on health related issues, and the effects of rational decision making in an industrialized world. Ubel’s second chapter entitled, Is the Obesity Epidemic a Consequence of Rational Choices?, talks about the rate of obesity as it compares to the open market. I firmly agree with Ubel’s stance he takes on this subject. He talks about people’s rational decision making and the cost benefit analysis of what they eat affects their weight. In support of the consumer, Ubel explains that it is the responsibility of the market to explain the nutritional value of foods. He says that, “when markets don’t provide consumers with the information they need to make good decisions that markets have failed”. (14) This leads later into a discussion of both the cost of food and the time in which it takes to prepare, in respects to obesity. Cheaper food in turn, means that people will buy more and thus consume more. In terms of food preparation, finding a quick and easy meal today is most times more attractive than cooking from home. With the growing amount of people working longer hours and more than one job, this can be a common occurrence in someone’s daily ritual. Ubel mentions the effects that processed foods have on children, specifically his first born. He also talks about obesity in terms of it’s somewhat contagiousness through people. Giving insight through research that proves that when people interact in larger groups they consume more and for longer periods of time, this is considered more of a social constituent, much like smoking, as Ubel compares the two. Another point that Ubel makes is how the free market has an effect on how the perceived value of goods change. He uses the “water and diamonds” scenario which was popularized by Adam Smith. Ubel explains Smith two ways of understanding, “the value in use of an object or its value in exchange”. (17) This view allows deeper insight into the differentiation of water and diamonds. He goes on to reference Smith when pertaining to finding value in terms of the amount of labor that went into providing the good. In this case, the diamond serves more value that the water in most circumstances. He disproves this theory by comparing the time in which it takes to hunt a squirrel to the time to hunt a deer. Concluding that because a squirrel takes 20 hours to kill and a deer only one hour, then one squirrel would fetch 20 deer in trade, which is a very irrational and farfetched transaction. Ubel also takes this idea on perception and relates it to happiness. I found the short story he told of David and Terry interesting because I feel like many people, especially in my area make similar decisions. This scenario measures the happiness people may misconstrue when sacrificing time commuting in order to own the home of their