In the hopes of increasing my productivity, I decided to spend the afternoon at a local café. By the time I got there, it was the middle of lunch rush. I stood in line hoping that there’d be a open table in a quiet corner—preferably with an outlet nearby. Since I’d had plenty of coffee already, I ordered a chai tea latte. After ordering and getting a number for my table, I went in search of a table. I found a good table, sat down, put in my earbuds, and began my afternoon reading. A few minutes passed and I briefly wondered why my drink wasn’t done. Seeing the place was packed, and knowing I’d be there for several hours, I just went on reading. About 20 minutes later a waitress came to my table and asked if I had ordered a chai latte. I responded and after finding that I had not received it yet, she apologized profusely. I assured her it wasn’t a big deal, but she quickly assured me that she’d have it out to me right away. Sure enough, about 3 minutes later another waitress brought it out—and again apologized for the delay. She asked if I remembered who had taken my order. I am the worst person when it comes to details, so I had no idea who taken my order. I told her that I was in no hurry and it was okay. She apologized again and left. I resumed my reading, but shortly a waiter came out to my table. I realized that he had been the one to take my order. He apologized, explained how it was that he didn’t have my order done on time, and apologized again. The whole time I was saying, “oh, don’t worry about it.” After apologizing for what he thought was a sufficient amount of time, he left and I returned to my reading. While I wasn’t the least upset about my delayed drink, I was struck by the concern over my potential irritation. Once it was recognized that I had been given less than ideal service, a lot of extra effort was put into making sure that I was satisfied. And isn’t this really how the market works?
While sipping my chai latte I reflected on experiences I’ve had—and heard about—with government agencies. You go to the DMV and wait in line for hours and there’s never an apology. Inordinate waiting isn’t the exception, it is the norm. We’ve come to expect delays and inconveniences as part of dealing with the government. This might happen occasionally in the free market, but it is quickly rectified. It doesn’t happen day after day. Why? Because if you have a dissatisfied customer, they probably won’t be your customer for long. There’s something called competition in the market. If you don’t like a company, you simply go somewhere else. And that’s disastrous for a business that depends solely on making their customer happy. This is why the free market will always be better at providing goods and services. The government faces no threat. When we’re forced to use their services, there’s no risk that they’ll lose their customers. And so it doesn’t matter if we walk away as satisfied customers or irate citizens. We’ll have to walk back into the DMV again and go through the same unpleasant experience. For the government relies on the gun that’s always there, whether we recognize it or not. The market relies providing goods and services that other people value. And that’s why the state will always bring destruction and waste while the free market will always be the source of that which is good and beneficial to the world.