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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Last week's post, Free Market at Work - Airline for Pets, inspired me to begin a weekly segment entitled This Week in the Free Market. Each week, I will collect a few stories on products and inventions spurred completely (at least, as far as I can tell) by the free market (i.e. not through government funding). At the end of each week, I will post these stories with a short commentary as to their value.

I encourage readers to submit their ideas for products or their criticism of posted stories if you find they received government assistance. I will credit submissions in the following week's post. You may submit through this post's comment form or by email at eleutherianblog@gmail.com.

1. Hybrid Squared - Energy-Generating Bike Rental System

As a libertarian environmentalist (not an oxymoron), this invention immediately peaked my interest. The bikes are capable of generating and storing kinetic energy. When returned to the bike racks, the stored energy will be used to power the city's hybrid electric buses. Instead of the city's taxpayers subsidizing public transportation costs, the city's residents will power the system through their exercise.

The system provides a built-in incentive to use the bikes by granting credits toward your next bus pass. This also provides an incentive for residents to stay fit and healthy.


2. Contact Lenses for Animals

Continuing the pet theme from last week, the German firm S & V Technologies has started producing custom-made contact lenses for animals. The product is intended to help animals afflicted with cataracts, which often leads to total impairment.

And because animals have short life spans, it means losing quality of life in a greater share of that life.

Although the expense of such an operation and subsequent check-ups can run into the thousands of euros (dollars), the procedure is often worth it for animals that have gone blind -- and for their owners.

Impaired vision can also blunt the sex drive, stopping animals from reproducing.
Chemist and entrepreneur Christine Kreiner recognized a need in the marketplace and developed a product to meet it.


3. Top Products for Smuggling Alcohol into Venues

Even with the worthy choices above, this is my favorite free market find of the week. Personally, I'm not willing to spend $8 for a beer at a professional sporting event. Additionally, as government and segments of society continue to pressure society as a whole to change their values to meet their own, some private enterprises are coerced to make changes.

For example, in April of this year, the
Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario prevented the Blue Jays from selling alcohol at three home games this season. There was also a push by certain residents of California to ban alcohol at Angels baseball games, following the death of pitcher Nick Adenhart by a crash involving a drunk driver. Yes, this was a tragic event, but it does not warrant forcing thousands of law-abiding people not to enjoy an alcoholic beverage at a ballgame.

Additionally, at least some of the high cost of beer can be attributed to government taxation. Beer at Pittsburgh Pirates games topped $7 this year after Allegheny County passed a new 10% drink tax. And when you're a Pirates fan, you perhaps need alcohol at a ballpark more than most fans.

These products are here to help. The smuggling devices include:
  • "beer belly" pouch - 80 oz.
  • "wine rack" sports bra - 25 oz.
  • undetectable, collapsible, durable, freezable, reusable flasks - 6 oz.
  • "barnoculars" (perfect for the upper decks) - 16 oz.
  • flask sandals with bottle-opener soles - 1.5 oz.
  • "sneaky shorts" - 24 oz.
  • "sippin' seat" - 750 ml

Posted by Eleutherian

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