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Archive for June 13th, 2022

For those who read these columns on my website, you presumably have noticed that I have a rotating banner at the top of the page.

One of the options is a quote from Milton Friedman about the blundering inefficiency of Washington.

Though I believe in fairness. I also have periodic columns about the incompetence of local governments, state governments, and foreign governments.

The bottom line is that if someone thinks government is the answer, I definitely think they’ve asked the wrong question.

But that doesn’t stop some people from a knee-jerk belief in bigger government. In an article for the Jacobin, Nick French wants the government to take over dating apps.

I’m not joking. Here is some of what he wrote.

…the longer I use these dating apps, the stranger the whole experience feels. …what matters to the app owners is not getting their users good dates. What matters is that they can make money off of us. …We could consciously uncouple our dating lives from the tyranny of the profit motive, though — with publicly owned apps that will democratize how we meet people online. …companies profiting from user data handsomely without compensating users smacks of exploitation. After all, if it’s my app use that generates data and therefore profits for the company, aren’t I entitled to a share of that value I created? …it does seem strange that questions about the implications of dating for social justice should be left in the hands of Silicon Valley MBAs — whose ultimate motivation, of course, is to turn a profit. Questions about how to deal with bias or prejudice in dating apps would be far better off as a matter for public, democratic deliberation.

For what it’s worth, profit-seeking companies have an incentive to give customers what they want.

Based on the performance of bureaucracies such as the Postal Service, I suspect we’ll all live celibate and lonely lives if the government takes over apps like Tinder and Bumble.

And that would be the case regardless of whether we have government-run dating apps (socialism) or government-controlled dating apps (fascism).

Mr. French seems open to either approach.

What might that look like? It doesn’t necessarily mean establishing a government-run National Dating Service or taking Tinder under state control. …but what exactly this “platform socialism” looks like will differ from platform to platform. …Users could collectively deliberate about the possible impacts of different choices, from the perspectives of social justice as well as users’ individual well-being. …the state would have an important role to play: in providing public funding for the development of cooperatively owned dating apps.

By the way, some governments already try to play matchmaker.

…some countries are already paying to set up their own dating services. The Singaporean government’s Ministry of Social and Family Development has a webpage devoted to helping the uncoupled find partners; it advertises a government-run online dating portal, officially accredited dating agencies, and a “Partnership Fund”

I’m usually a fan of Singaporean economic policy, but obviously I don’t think governments have the ability to boost marriage and fertility (but at least they don’t go overboard like Hungary).

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