Supply and demand for government?

John Hayward:
The laws of supply and demand are beautiful things – expressions of logic as elementary as the basic laws of physics, which govern everything except the more unruly subatomic particles, which thumb their noses at laws, dress like slobs, and listen to the kind of music that drives their parent atoms crazy.

Supply and demand even applies to the use of government power, although the highest imperative of socialism is to pretend otherwise. There is always enormous demand for government. Lots of people want State power to be deployed for their benefit, or to punish their competitors. (That’s why Big Business is not at all antithetical to Big Government.) There is a bottomless appetite for “free” goodies. Lots of people will always believe that any given social problem can be solved through the application of coercive force, which they prefer to think of as “political leadership” – smart people rolling up their sleeves and bringing order out of chaos.

Nobody likes chaos, which is why desperate Big Government hacks, like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, have taken to insulting those who want smaller government by calling them “anarchists.” A $3.6 trillion government that only spends $3.5 trillion next year would be “anarchy” under this definition. The natural desire for orderly life is carefully and deliberately perverted into demand for government control by the people who profit from supplying such control.

In the free market, heavy demand for a product eventually finds an equilibrium with supply and cost. Suppose a car dealership began selling brand-new, top-of-the-line sports cars for $5000 apiece. The demand for these cars would be immense – you’d have people lining up around the block to buy them. (Which would actually increase their effective cost, because consumers correctly view the convenience of purchasing an item as part of the cost of buying it.) But long before you had any great number of people grumbling that it’s too much of a hassle to spend all day standing in line to buy those $5000 sports cars, the auto dealership would go out of business, because it would be losing a ton of money on every sale.

That’s not how government power works. It is a commodity – under Obama-style command economics, it’s the single most valuable commodity in the land. A dash of government favor can be worth more than everything in the inventory of a business operation; it can be worth more to a welfare dependent than the income from a full-time job.

But the cost of this particular commodity is hidden with great care. It is common practice to pretend that government power has no cost whatsoever – it’s funded by deficit spending, or it will produce benefits that exceed the burden of funding it. This is never true, ever. There are no zero-cost exercises of compulsive force, just as there are no zero-cost private-sector business models. But generations of people grow up believing foolish promises that benefits and regulations can be provided or imposed for “free.”
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It is an interesting argument.  It is probably too sophisticated for many liberals to comprehend but thoughtful people should consider the true cost of government.

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