For many a year now a debate has raged as to whom one should lend support in the fierce competition between Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble over the possession of Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles. Many might think it to be a very simple argument. After all, Mr. Flintstone quite frequently exclaims “My Pebbles!” when Mr. Rubble comes into possession of one of the cereal varieties. There are those who are on the side of Mr. Flintstone who will uncritically accept Mr. Flintstone’s exclamations as proof of ownership of the Pebbles, but two questions beg to be asked: are Mr. Flintstone’s claims sufficient to demonstrate ownership, and is it possible for Mr. Rubble to demonstrate an equal or even greater claim of ownership of the Pebbles?
Please remember that although the Flintstones are described as a “modern Stone Age family” the important part of the description is Stone Age. In any era in which one is living it is modern. The point of this is that clearly we cannot define ownership of the Fruity Pebbles, and for that matter the Cocoa Pebbles, by applying the laws of today. (So I really do not want to receive protestations from lawyers claiming that “this isn’t how the law works” or going even a step further, “this isn’t how the law works in Texas.”) In order to properly assess who is the rightful owner of the Pebbles at any given time we must analyze the laws and economic rules of Bedrock during the time in which Mr. Flintstone and Mr. Rubble were living.
From close observation of life in Bedrock, it would seem that there is very little in the way of law enforcement that takes place. For instance, on each of these occasions when Mr. Flintstone would assume that he has had a theft perpetrated against him (when Mr. Rubble comes into possession of the Pebbles) no officers of the law jump to his aid. There are two plausible explanations for why no officers come to Mr. Flintstone’s aid: either they are all hanging out at the Stone Age Bedrock doughnut shop or there is a sparseness of officers – there are no laws, thus crimes cannot truly be committed, and thus officers are not needed. I lean toward the second explanation since (1) everyone knows that police officers don’t really hang out at doughnut shops all day and (2) if there were laws on the books in Bedrock, don’t you think that one would exist that forbade people from letting dangerous dinosaurs run around their homes in the presence of infants (as Mr. Flintstone constantly allows)? I would say that it is absolutely clear that no existing law in Stone Age Bedrock would support Mr. Flintstone’s claims of ownership.
The examination of the laws governing Bedrock would seem to weaken Mr. Flintstone’s claims, but it does not provide an answer to the question of rightful ownership. Mr. Flintstone still might be deemed the owner of the Pebbles. But to obtain a definitive answer, we must examine the economic rules that governed Bedrock. A great many people are familiar with the great 18th Century Scottish economist Adam Smith and his very important publication An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, or The Wealth of Nations, for short. In this work, as many of you are no doubt aware, Smith spoke of the notion of an “invisible hand” guiding the free market whereby acting in one’s self-interest actually contributes to the benefit of society. The benefit to society is accidental, but often greater than the benefit that would be accomplished if the individual was endeavoring for the greater good rather than acting in self-interest, Smith argues. This is very similar to the notion of laissez-faire capitalism (or at least proponents of laissez-faire capitalism would likely use Smith’s statements in support of their own arguments). Now, Adam Smith did not live at the time of Stone Age Bedrock and this concept of an “invisible hand” was a notion unvoiced. And I’m fairly certain that the term laissez-faire capitalism would have seemed quite foreign to Bedrock residents as well (good luck trying to find a Bedrock resident who spoke French), but after intense study, I believe that Bedrock did have economic rules that were very similar to laissez-faire capitalism as we know it today. I call this economic system Bedrock Laissez-Faire Capitalism.
The principles of BLFC were quite similar to the familiar laissez-faire capitalism; the economy was allowed to operate with minimal government interference. And by minimal here, I mean no government interference. We have already established that there was nothing in the way of law enforcement in Stone Age Bedrock, so there could not be a notion of “theft.” If Mr. Flintstone was unable to hold on to his Fruity Pebbles (or Cocoa Pebbles), then that was tough luck. Mr. Rubble has the Pebbles now. I guess that one could say that BLFC was at its heart a combination of what we know now as laissez-faire capitalism combined with among the purest forms of Darwinism. But since Charles Darwin was not alive at the time of Stone Age Bedrock, it was called something else. It was called Toughguyism. In Toughguyism, the strong get the Fruity (and Cocoa) Pebbles and the weak are left running after the strong whining about not having the Pebbles. In my determination, this form of economy is closest to anarcho-capitalism, but perhaps even a little bit tougher. So it is clear after countless hours of study and examination that Mr. Rubble has demonstrated ownership of the Pebbles. Rules governing the society allow Mr. Flintstone to take possession if he is tough enough, but this is unlikely since Mr. Rubble has on his side his own son (Bamm-Bamm Rubble) who seems even at an early age somewhat likely to be the pinnacle of Toughguyian evolution.