Failure of Governance In Texas

Political scientist Steven L. Taylor blogs:

Yes, markets work because supply and demand are real forces that drive human behavior. So, yes, it makes sense that as electrical supply dwindled in Texas at the same time that demand was surging that the spot market for energy would see a price increase.

But what a lot of people fail to see/understand is that just because markets work, doesn’t mean they produce the human outcomes that we might want, and that is where government often has to act.

It is not unreasonable, I would assert, for a citizen in a developed country to expect power to stay on and clean water to flow during most circumstances, and for the government to absorb the costs and responsibility to assure that outcome. I know it is not possible to always guarantee access to utilities, but we have the technology to keep the heat on and the water flowing when it is cold outside. This is not asking for power when a category-5 hurricane makes landfall. This is asking for something that happens in the northern parts of the country on annual basis.

We live in a society for a reason, after all.

To pick another example that some pro-market folks might not want to hear: illegal immigration is very much about supply and demand. There is a supply of labor that the market in the US has a demand for, and any attempt to curtail that flow of supply is an inteference in the market.

Another example is what we are seeing in the fragmentation of media. Nonsense sells on cable TV far more than does hard news and analysis. So, we get more infotainment and less news, even as we have more and more outlets. That is the market at work, giving people what they want, but to the broader detriment of society.

Heck, peasants in the Andes grow coca bushes and not food crops because supply and demand dictate that a pound of coca leaves pays more than a pound of bananas.

Those examples are to point out that markets working does not always mean producing unvarnished goods.

To put all of this starkly: is the end goal of human society to maximize market outputs or is the goal of human society the flourishing of its members? While it is possible that sometimes those two things align, they do not always. It is a fundamental reason that government is needed.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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