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Our Government Problem-Solvers
At election time, pols can't help but "do something" -- even if it makes matters worse.


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Thomas Sowell

For example, the fact that “the poor pay more” for what they buy in stores in low-income neighborhoods is often blamed on those who run these stores, rather than on those who create extra costs through crime, vandalism, and riots.

If the store owners were making big profits, the big chain stores would be rushing in to share in the bonanza, instead of avoiding low-income neighborhoods like the plague.

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Markets were also blamed for the Great Depression of the 1930s and New Deal politicians were credited with getting us out of it. But increasing numbers of economists and historians have concluded that it was government intervention which prolonged the Great Depression beyond that of other depressions where the government did nothing.

The stock market crash of 1987 was at least as big as the stock market crash in 1929. But, instead of being followed by a Great Depression, the 1987 crash was followed by 20 years of economic growth, with low inflation and low unemployment.

The Reagan administration did nothing in 1987, despite outrage in the media at the government’s failure to live up to its responsibility, as seen in liberal quarters. But nothing was apparently what needed to be done, so that markets could adjust.

The last thing politicians can do in an election year is nothing. So we can look for all sorts of “solutions” by politicians of both parties. Like most political solutions, these are likely to make matters worse.

– Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

© 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.



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