'Agreeing to Disagree' Requires Free Markets
Free markets allow us the freedom to “agree to disagree.” You buy what you want; I buy what I want. For example, you buy an iPhone and I buy a Google phone, and both of us leave happy; the interaction is civil. We can even both decide not to buy a phone—nothing in a free market is compulsory.
In a free market, we can disagree over which car is most stylish, or safe, or holds the greatest value, or even whether to buy or lease. When we agree to disagree, I buy a Volvo and you lease a Lexus. We both get what we want and the interaction is very civil.
We may disagree about which TV shows to watch—some prefer (and watch) “Game of Thrones” and others prefer (and watch) “Castle.” No arguing, no fighting, no political power imposing its will. How civil.
The market allows everyone to buy what each wants. I’m not forced to buy what you want and you’re not forced to buy what I want. Agreeing to disagree is the essence of a civil society.
This is not how it works when government supplants the market. I tell you we’ll have to agree to disagree and vote for someone who tells you what to buy even if you don’t want it. When the system in place compels you to buy a product that I design and approve, whether you want it or not, that is not “agreeing to disagree;” it is using force to compel you to act as I would have you act. That is the farthest thing from “agreeing to disagree” I can fathom.
A contemporaneous example revolves around health care and who should administer it. Those on the left want government to run things because “health care is so important it can’t be left to greedy capitalists,” implying the market is unable to offer quality health care at reasonable prices. Those on the right argue that government should get out of health care because “it’s so important, we can’t leave it to government to run,” suggesting the market and free choice would do a better job. The right argues that recent revelations surrounding the VA scandal cast doubt on government’s ability to run a health care system. The left argues it would all work fine if only we had the “right” administrators. This is where the discussion often ends, with leftists saying, “We’ll just have to agree to disagree.” No we won’t.
It’s amazing that the same person who would never dream of telling others they have to buy a certain car or watch a particular TV show or buy an iPhone demands that we purchase the health care he wants me to have. How uncivil.
So, the next time someone says, “We’ll just have to agree to disagree,” ask whether that means you won’t have to do what the other person wants you to do. If he says yes, you can respond, “Meet the free market and, by the way, thank you for treating me like the adult I am and for being civil.” If he says no, tell him he is not “agreeing to disagree” or being civil because he is foisting his system on you. Tell him you would love to agree to disagree—that you would love to be civil.