Friday, July 28, 2006

Why the Government Should Not Intervene in the Economy
Mike Rappaport

Jeffrey Alan Miron, a libertarian economist at Harvard, offers 9 reasons why government intervention in the market is normally a bad idea.  They are quite good.  Here is an excerpt from Number 4: Overexpansion and the Difficulties of Cutting Back:

{O]ne can always make a plausible case for at least some intervention, and that is why many economists are fairly interventionist.  A critical assumption behind this perspective, however, is that intervention is the right amount; too much intervention can be worse than doing nothing.  Ultra-strict pollution controls on cars would make them so expensive that commerce would grind to a halt.

This issue [of the correct size of the intervention] is crucial because government programs do not stay small. The reason is that all entities,” whether individuals, firms, non-profits, or government agencies, attempt to survive.  And one path to survival is getting bigger.

[The excessive expansion of interventions has often occurred.]  Civil Rights legislation evolved from prohibitions against discrimination to affirmative action.  The Pure Food and Drug Act went from requiring truthful disclosure of ingredients to banning many foods substances and regulating the development and marketing of most medicines.   Social Security grew from protecting the low-income elderly who could not work to providing retirement income to millionaires.  Antitrust evolved from prohibiting monopolization to proscribing a large range of plausibly competitive practices (e.g., vertical “restraints”).

https://rightcoast.typepad.com/rightcoast/2006/07/jeffrey_alan_mi.html

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Mike Rappaport
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