Protectionism and Big Government Policy

From Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek:

A Protectionist is Someone Who…

… upon noticing that cardiothoracic surgeons earn high incomes concludes that the nation would be enriched if the government adopted policies to increase the number of citizens who suffer from blocked arteries and congestive heart failure – thus artificially increasing the demand for the services of cardiothoracic surgeons.

I think this example can be used to demonstrate the folly of another well intended, but misguided, phenomenon in politics:

Advocates of solving things with big government policy (maybe there’s a better description) are folks who…

… upon noticing that cardiothoracic surgeons earn high incomes concludes that we can help more people earn high incomes if the government adopted policies to increase the number of  cardiothoracic surgeons – thus artificially increasing the supply of  cardiothoracic surgeons.

I can imagine the support for such policies:

  • More cardiothoracic surgeons is a great thing! More is better.
  • Let’s help everyone realize the dream of becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon!

But, just as Boudreaux’s example shows how dumb it would be to artificially increase the demand for cardiothoracic surgeons, it’s just as dumb to artificially increase the supply of them because we can easily predict what will happen.

Cardiothoracic surgeons will cease making such high incomes and big government policy advocates will scratch their heads for 5 seconds before coming up with the next big government solution to that problem, rather than realize where their thinking was flawed in the first place.

 

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