The End Of The Libertarian Fantasy

The Libertarian devotion to the “free market” is absolute. To them, all government regulation is inherently bad because the “free market” will magically correct any and all abuses. Many is the conversation I’ve had where the claim is made that “I don’t need the government to protect wages because my skills are in demand and the market will determine my level of compensation.” Libertarians believe in all kinds of fairy tales just like this.

Well, that argument is now officially toast and it’s time to grow up. You see, in an ACTUAL free market, the most desirable skills for a given industry will force the various corporations to compete for those skills. That means higher pay and juicer benefits get offered. That means there is a constant struggle between rivals to poach the best workers from each other. For corporations to agree to NOT do this is called “wage fixing.” By not bidding against each other for the top talent, corporations collude to artificially suppress the wages of their workers. This not only goes directly against the concept of a “free market” but it’s illegal, too.

Starting next week, a class-action civil lawsuit will continue in San Jose to determine if  several tech companies including Google, Apple, Pixar, Lucasfilm, Adobe, Intel, and Intuit conspired to eliminate competition for skilled labor. So much for Google’s motto of “Don’t be evil.”

The suit alleges that these companies had informal agreements with each other to not poach workers, not to make an offer if the worker approached them on their own and, worst of all, to inform the workers’ current employer that they had approached a competitor.


In one particularly juicy piece of evidence from May 2005, Adobe’s CEO Bruce Chizen emailed Steve Jobs regarding “Recruitment of Apple Employees”. In the message, Adobe’s SVP for human resources writes “Bruce and Steve Jobs have an agreement that we are not to solicit ANY Apple employees, and vice versa.”

Additionally, documents state that there is “strong evidence that the companies knew about the other express agreements, patterned their own agreements off of them, and operated them concurrently with the others to accomplish the same objective.”

For example, Lori McAdams of Pixar wrote an internal email to others at Pixar  in April 2007 stating, “I just got off the phone with Danielle Lambert [of Apple], and we agreed that effective now, we’ll follow a Gentleman’s agreement with Apple that is similar to our Lucasfilm agreement.”

Does that sound like a “free market” to you? Where there is fair and open bidding for marketable skills? Or does it sound like corporations rigging the market to benefit only themselves?

Yes, Virgina, corporations break the law all the time. What kind if child thinks they wouldn’t do these things if there were no laws at all? I know that many Libertarians will read this realize that government regulation is the only answer to unrestrained corporate greed. Ah, who I kidding?! They’ll just click their heels together and chant, “Ron Paul loves FREEDOM! Ron Paul loves FREEDOM! Ron Paul loves FREEDOM!”, pretend that this never happened and the government is just trying to take over another industry.

Some people will never learn.

I'll regulate you! And your little corporation, too!














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