The government of Venezuela has tried to fix its markets for consumer goods, to make sure that ordinary people get what they need at a reasonable cost.
That approach probably sounded good at first to a lot of Venezuelan consumers, but the problem is that the government has created an artificial economic shortage of many goods and services, by keeping Adam Smith’s “invisible hands” — the forces that soften demand for costly goods and increase the supply of costly goods — from meeting.
Frank Bajak, a technology writer at the Associated Press, recently reported Jose Augusto Montiel, a resident of Venezuela, has helped other people in his country cope by writing a mobile device app that can help people tell one another when they see flour, sugar, milk, cooking oil and toilet paper for sale.
The “Supply Me” Android app has been downloaded more than 12,000 times, Bajak said.
Economists blame the shortages on “government-imposed price controls, while President Nicolas Maduro says greedy merchants are hoarding goods,” Bajak said.
Of course, something similar could start to happen in the U.S. health insurance market in a year or two.
When it comes to capitalism and free markets, I’m a pragmatist, not an idealist.
I respect the fact that a frequent commenter here, Sunforester, is fervently, steadily in favor of free markets and against taxes, and thinks that taxes are immoral, but, in my heart, I just don’t feel as if taxes are immoral. I wish I could exempt people who do think taxes are evil from having to pay taxes, but I personally have no fundamental objection to the idea of paying taxes.
Along the same lines: I just don’t have any theoretical objection to the idea of government involvement in health care. My bias is that human governments (or government alternatives) have been involved in helping the sick about as long as there have been governments. To me, it seems as if, in the area of health care, capitalism itself is always competing with advocates of government intervention, religious institution intervention, and secular nongovernmental organization.