Sunday, March 12, 2006

No such thing as price controls!

There is no such thing as price controls! That’s right. Price controls do not exist and never existed.

But hasn’t government placed regulations on prices? It has but absent human interaction there is no such thing as a price. Dean Russell, in a lecture probably given some 50 years ago, said that a can of bean doesn’t care what price is put on it. But people do.

Government does not regulate prices. It does not regulate property. It does not regulate material existence but human action. Material existence simply is. What is always and everywhere regulated is people.

Linda and Morris Tannehill, in their book The Market for Liberty, wrote: “The market is a network of trade relationships, and a relationship can only be regulated by regulating the persons involved in it.”

It would be be quite unacceptable for a politician to stand up and announce: “I believe in people control.”

But when he says he wants to control prices, of consumption of a produc,or any other aspect of the market, it is considered acceptable.

But one does not control markets. One controls people. Markets are voluntary human exchange.

Zoning laws don’t regulate property. They regulate individuals using their property. Taxes on “business” are not taxes on business at all. They are taxes on people who own businesses.

It has often been pointed out that all legislation is fundamentally force. To call for a law is to call for government action to enforce that law and enforce means violence or the threat of violence. But to say: “I want to use violence to stop people from reading dirty books” is considered crude at best. Instead the law is referred to as “protecting the family” or “protecting the young”.

Politics is the art of mislabeling what one is doing. So politicians never advocate violence. They merely want to pass a law. Controls never regulate people. They control prices, or support prices.

One of the most important things the classical liberal can bring to a debate is to label things for what they are. Confucius said: “When words lose their meaning people will lose their liberty.”