Capitalism's all very well but it's the freedom of markets we want


A fun little piece in The Guardian from a trader at Borough Market. Essentially he's been thrown off his pitch and wants to know why?

Well, the actual "why" is: because they can.

Borough Market may well be run by a trust but that doesn't and won't change the basic actions of those who think that they're able to squeeze a rent out of an asset. And no, I don't mean a rent as in rent for a pitch, but in the larger sense. The very collection of high priced (and possibly high quality) purveyors of comestibles at Borough makes the market as a whole more valuable.

If (as the accusation seems to be) people start moving off the controlled site, still selling such desirable comestibles, then this may well indeed lead to an even greater value for all in the area. More people coming, to take their pick of more traders: this is exactly what led to medieval (and many European still) cities having quarters devoted to certain trades (I recall on arrival in Lisbon asking for tips on a couple of good furniture stores. I was told to simply walk down one street, that's where they all were). However it lowers the power, the rent, available to those who held the formerly exclusive right to grant permission.  

Borough Market itself is simply being a capitalist, maximising the value of the asset they control rather than looking to the wider interest. And that's just fine, capitalists should be attempting to maximise the value of their assets. But this is where the freedom of markets comes in: their control should extend only to their asset not to anything else. Borough can indeed throw out traders they don't like: but we should be equally free to set up a market next door, to patronise whichever we like and to purchase our cheeses from the monger of our choice.

If I were in London I'd be knocking on doors in Maltby Street looking for my cheese this weekend. For that's the other lovely part of this markets thing. We get to vote with our pounds as our wishes take us.