Thanks, again, Joseph. I agree 100% with your point about utopianism.
One rebuttal often made is that we don't have a genuinely free market. There is plenty of government intervention of various types. So when something bad happens, you can blame it on the government intervention. This is true, but with a description of the details, it sounds a lot like supporters of communism who say it would work if practiced consistently, but that's never been tried.
Instead of calling it "the free market" just call it the market. As you argued, as individuals people always will seek to maximize their gains and minimize their losses. They will react to government controls. How they react is also individualized.
You pointed out that they will flock to depressed prices and avoid the prevention of profits. You did not address rent-seeking in its many forms. Some will have the resources to do more than react: they will create the problem. (Goldman Sachs comes to mind). Others will react in large ways with hefty leverages. (Elon Musk is an example of that.)
Still others will find their own personal advantages in the regulations. In 2013, I took a tax preparation class from Jackson Hewitt, which was founded by former seniors from H & R Block. They found profit in government regulation. Accounting today is largely that: from taxes, to Sarbanes-Oxley and HIIPA, etc., etc. Some years back at a mall in Lansing, a young woman just graduated from law school and not yet on the bar, opened a paralegal shop, helping people fill out forms. A committed and consistent libertarian or Objectivist could sell those kinds of services. Private companies that contract to run public schools are another example. We all could suggest many others.
The analysis must always come back to individual morality. True, we never had "perfect" capitalism, or communism, or even perfect feudalism, or Athenian democracy, or whatever. The salient question is how the individual chooses their own standards and values. When very many people choose well, we have good times, albeit, not "perfect".
Do we want people creating, inventing, making, and producing, or do we want people filling out forms, going to war in large and small ways, and otherwise squandering human potential.
(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 1/26, 5:47pm)