Like many people who find themselves outcasts and political dissidents on the Right, I went through a libertarian phase until I started to look at the world as it actually is, not how I imagined it. I like how Tucker Carlson puts it:
But muh weed and open borders!
Anyway, libertarians have a religious fanaticism when it comes to the "free market". Never mind that no one alive has ever lived in an actual free market and no one alive today will ever live in such a society. The notion of a truly free market is pretty much like the kooks who spend all of their waking moments staring at End Times eschatology charts. The free market will work if we have one because they believe it will. They just think that as long as the market is free, all of our problems will evaporate.
What got me on this kick, not that I am ever far from my kick of mocking libertarians, is a video I watched from one of the people I follow on Youtube. I won't mention his name, he doesn't have a large audience and his production values are pretty low but I like it anyway. He started off mentioning that he hasn't been doing much training with firearms lately because ammo prices are so high and he can't afford to do much shooting. But then he launched into a spiel about "price gouging" and how there is no such thing because the market will always find balance.
So he can't afford to shoot because prices are through the roof but that is OK because "free market".
Another firearms related example.
In my online travels and business dealing I also ran across a guy who has made himself a middle-man to the middle-men. His scheme is pretty simple. He has ample capital apparently so he cleans out many firearms distributors of popular guns and because he makes big purchases he gets first dibs. While he sells a lot of guns retail, he also offers to supply smaller firearms dealers with large lots of guns, marked up by him 15% on top of the wholesale price. People with small shops can't get supplied so they either buy with his mark-up or they just make do with what they can get. He offers no added value, he simply is leveraging his buying power to leech profit from other people in the same business, many of whom are simply small shops trying to supply their customers.
Again, nothing illegal about this but I find it highly immoral and unethical.
For those in the back: just because something is legal it doesn't make it moral.
In our state, the age of consent is 17 so legally a 68 year old guy can have sex with a 17 year old girl but that doesn't make it ethical.
The shortage in ammo is so bad that smaller gun stores can't get any to sell to their customers. Even larger gun stores can't keep it in stock. You can watch ammo come in stock online and sell out literally minutes later. The people who are buying it are apparently not stockpiling the ammo for themselves, they are buying it and reselling it at a ridiculous mark-up.
I consider firearms and ammunition to be essential goods. They aren't a luxury good, they are necessary for the protection of property and preservation of life. When people aren't able to afford to buy ammo to protect themselves and for practice necessary for safe operation of their firearm because others are price gouging, that is immoral.
Imagine if someone bought up all the groceries in your town and then put them up for resale after marking them up 100%. Would that be ethical? Sure it might be "legal" but that doesn't make it right.
Or if someone cornered the market on a drug that people need to survive, like insulin or synthroid, and then raised the price 1000%. Would that be ethical? Sure it might be "legal" but that doesn't make it right.
As someone with several small business ventures, I believe in charging a fair price for the goods and services I provide. What I provide comes with exceptional customer service, and my time and investment are deserving of compensation. No one complains about my prices and I don't grumble about what I am paid. Fair pay for honest work.
There are jobs I held in the past that I didn't find ethical, specifically being a manager at a bank branch. So I stopped doing them. They paid well and had great benefits. One place I worked as a manager, I started off with four weeks of paid vacation on day one plus the bank holidays so I got the equivalent of six weeks of paid time off. The bonuses were nice. But I didn't feel good doing the job.
The free market fundamentalists don't seem to take ethics into consideration. If you can get paid, it is permissible no matter what it does to others.
There is no sense of an obligation to not be a piece of shit to your community. We are all just atomized individuals trying to squeeze as much profit as we can from our neighbors.
The market, free or otherwise, does not exist to be served by the people. It ought to exist to be a service to the people of a nation, a means by which people can fairly exchange goods and services with one another. When the market is manipulated by people who produce nothing and who add no value, it ceases to serve that purpose and instead becomes a form of private tax on consumers. The people charging a 75% mark-up on basic range 9mm ammo are not providing anything useful, they simply have the time and capital and ability to buy up the market and resell it for a profit. It is ironic that many of the free market fundamentalist, libertarian types screech about government taxation but applaud when some schmuck imposes a private sector tax.
In general, a market that is more free is preferable to one that is less free but having a free market is not a goal in and of itself. It is one aspect of the broader community and society we live in and when the market is elevated over the general welfare, it becomes an idol, one worshiped by the same people who grumble about ammo prices.