Here's a letter I wrote to a friend of mine. I had no intentions of posting this, but I think it does a good job explaining my worldview. Where have I gone awry?
You know this already
about me, but I'll state it again. I'm a free-market guy. I believe
in the voluntary cooperative arrangements that happen millions of times each
day, in particular time and circumstances that enable our economy to
work. For example,
We take for granted that when we shop at Kroger there will be an abundance
and variety of food on the shelf. Why and how did this food get
We take for granted that we will be able to fill our car with gas, day or
night, rain or shine, 365 days a year in almost every city in America.
How on earth is this accomplished?
We take for granted that we can get t-shirts made in Vietnam, plastic toys made
in China, and silverware made in Indonesia all at Wal Mart for extremely
competitive prices. Who arranges this?
The amazing thing is that all this and more happens every single day
unbeknownst to the general public. We simply take it for granted.
Now, is it perfect? No, but we haven't identified any other system than comes
even close. When free people are allowed to voluntarily enter into
exchange with whomever they desire, we all benefit. We are all made
But, then government, for various reasons, interferes. Government places
restrictions on certain trades, or makes others outright illegal.
Sometimes for good, but mostly for naught. Taxes, tariffs, regulations of
various sorts, mandates, subsidies, licenses, and other market interventions are
almost always served up with good intentions, but in the same frequency fail to
account for the unintended consequences. No policy intervention is
without unintended consequences, yet pols routinely ignore them or falsely
label them as additional market failures only to suggest more market
Show me a sector with high government intervention and most likely you'll find
escalating prices, distorted and disjointed demand, decreasing quality, and the
like. It's inevitable. What about sectors with very little government meddling?
The internet has revolutionized our world in ways not foreseen.
Why? Because government has largely remained on the sidelines. And
we are immensely better off.
So, when people such as yourself call for more government to fix this
imperfection or that failure, I ask that you think through your proposed policy
intervention and determine if the benefit is worth the cost. You are often
quick to parade the benefit, but slow to claim the cost.
Cash for clunkers. Terrible policy.
At best shifted demand from one period to the next.
First time home buyers credit. Delayed the inevitable and terribly
Ethanol mandate. Raises prices (hurts poor) and does zero to improve air
I could go on, but by now you have probably lost interest. But you now
fully understand my viewpoint.
BTW: when you get a chance, you should read Milton Friedman's book: Free to
Choose. Excellent read.