In the comments to Rule #2, Monster upbraids me for ethical deficiency and my own domain error:

…equating an exchange of value for value (what I mean when I say “trade”) with an exchange of value for a promise not to destroy something of value is the category error here.

No. The domain (“category”) error here is one you can’t see in yourself, and it handicaps you. Perhaps it should be Ric’s Rule Number Zero: The Universe isn’t “fair”. Neither is it “ethical”, “moral”, “just”, “equitable”, or any of the other slippery and ultimately nonsensical-at-the-root terms we use to justify social behaviors.

The Universe is arbitrary, and the only truly deep, fundamental rule of it appears to be the so-called Laws of Thermodynamics, which nobody has ever found a reason for, but nobody, despite centuries of truly stalwart effort, has ever found an exception to.  The Laws of Thermodynamics can be stated in several ways, including dividing them up into several parts (usually three), but the economics version would be something like

  1. You have to pay for everything.
  2. You always get less than you pay for.
  3. The difference doesn’t do anybody any good.

My focus here is helping you figure out how the Leftoids think, so you can counter their arguments effectively. Monster’s error is assigning the concept of “ethics” to a mechanical transaction that’s part of the Universe, and the reason that’s an error is that it’s almost always possible for somebody, somewhere, to come up with an objection to any particular ethical standard — there is no fundamental, thermodynamics-level basis for ethics; they are purely human behavioral rules.

More specifically, Monster (like most of us) sees a significant ethical difference between “trade” and “robbery” (or “theft”). Your Leftoid doesn’t see it that way. A has X, and B wants it. To the Leftoid, there is no ethical distance between “A demands compensation” and “B demands the goods.” The “compensation” becomes Y, and the transaction is converted to A has X and demands Y; B has Y and demands X — a perfectly symmetrical situation which can only be resolved, in ethical terms, by appealing to an outside consideration such as “need”.

The best way to approach a resolution of the difference is to reduce the complexities by eliminating outside considerations, especially “ethics”, “justice”, and the like, and getting down to a fundamental statement that everybody can agree to — not that everyone will; the temptation to inject ethical considerations is overwhelming, as Monster demonstrates. That doesn’t mean the outside considerations don’t exist, or can be ignored — it ain’t that simple. It does mean the outside considerations are added on to the fundamental principle rather than inherent in it, and have to be discussed that way. Thus the definition:

“Market” is the process by which goods and services are exchanged.

We can then discuss the ethical and moral considerations involved in particular instances of “market”.