Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Government Intervention and High Prices

I found this article, by Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson at Grove City College. He discusses the history of meddling with prices, and how it raises costs. It's worth a read. But in the first comment, along comes this, from Joe DeVet:
[T]here’s a moral dimension to messing with markets which is often overlooked in Catholic discourse about “social justice.” We Catholics proclaim a “preferential option for the poor”, but as the discussion goes on, many other competing “social-justice” goals tend to get in the way. We see a problem like the loss of the family farm, and we figure we’ll subsidize plowing crops under and killing piglets for the sake of the farm. We see a minority who don’t have health insurance, and are tempted to think remaking the whole health system will help those few.

At the end of the day, we may have helped SOME poor in the short term, but have harmed all the poor in the longer term. Prices are higher and goods and services more limited as a result of the interventions. The rich (includes you and me) are inconvenienced; the poor actually suffer. They don’t just “feel” poorer, as the author states, but ARE poorer.

So much for the “preferential option.” Bearing this in mind, we need to recognize that it is not only a bad idea to intervene in markets the way the current administration is trying to do, it is actually sinful.

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