Published in The Tennessean, Sunday, August 14, 2011
by Richard J. Grant
If you manufacture aluminum baseball bats, you probably noticed an unusual increase in orders this past week.
Then you noticed the demand is coming from Britain, where one thinks first of cricket, not baseball. You might have wondered why, but were only too happy to increase production to meet this new demand. Markets work.
We often hear about “market failure.” What’s that? Just imagine something that is not provided in the marketplace but you feel should be. You can call that “market failure,” if you wish. The classic example was lighthouses. Surely they couldn’t be profitable, right? This was taught to an entire generation before someone decided to check history and discovered that lighthouses were, indeed, provided by private companies long before governments stepped in.
You don’t need to know what’s happening in Britain to be able to supply them with more bats. But it helps to know more about your customers, so you check the news and learn that violent riots have been breaking out nightly in cities across England. Shops have been trashed, looted and burned. People have been robbed, beaten and even killed.
Where are the police? They are overwhelmed by the volume and brazenness of the outbreaks. They are also constrained in their response by what appears on the surface to be modern Western restraint, but is in fact a symptom of the modern evasion of social realities that we lamely call “political correctness.” The British welfare system has bred personal responsibility out of the class that has become dependent on it; and the shortsighted immigration system has failed to integrate the foreign communities it has created within.
With seriously deficient police protection, victims see themselves at the mercy of the mobs. The victims are also unarmed. The average Brit sees this and exclaims, “That’s not cricket!”
It’s not baseball, either. It is government failure. A succession of left-drifting governments has failed to focus on a government’s primary duty to maintain law and order. They have been too busy protecting their public from all the imaginary market failures they can dream up, especially those that serve as an excuse to redistribute income to their favorite constituents.
Governments like to imagine they have a monopoly on the use of force. Not true. If the police are not there when you need them, it’s up to you. But Brits do not enjoy Second Amendment-type protections; and those who have used firearms in self-defense have sometimes found themselves in jail.
This explains why sales of baseball bats in the U.K. suddenly increased by over 6,000 percent last week. While government fails, the market provides.
Governments also imagine that they have a monopoly in the production of money. That is why gold sales are soaring and the price is reaching record highs. That is also why we suffer repeated booms and busts in all markets. We face unemployment, budget deficits, and over-regulated medical care.
Government has struck out.
Richard J. Grant is a professor of finance and economics at Lipscomb University and a senior fellow at the Tennessee Center for Policy Research. His column appears on Sundays. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © Richard J Grant 2011