Regardless of what legislatures, courts or juries say, there are some laws in life that always affect human conduct that are unalterable.  One of these laws is the Law of Supply and Demand.  This law certainly can be affected by other laws, regulations and mores, but it can never be repealed.  One explanation for this is that, to the degree that people have Liberty to make choices, they will always consider their own self-interest when it comes to spending their money, time or labor.  Of course, some of those self-interests can be altruistic, but at least to some degree, this law always affects human conduct.  And no educated person is unaware of this reality that Incentives Matter! 

            The second is the Law of Unintended Consequences.  This law demonstrates that, no matter what the good intentions are of the people making rules or passing laws, there are often to even a great extent other consequences that provide results that are unforeseen and frequently negative.  Dr. Milton Friedman proposed the best antidote to this law by suggesting that we should judge programs by their results, not their good intentions.  Some good examples of those results are minimum wage laws that purport to want to increase wages for low-paid workers.  But the blunt reality is that some people’s labors, most often those of young people and other unskilled laborers, simply are not worth the increased expense to their employers.  So, as a result, they lose their jobs or don’t get hired in the first place.  Is this a bad thing?  Actually, most sociologists would agree that it is far better for society, for example, to have 100 people at work earning $10 per hour than 65 people earning $15 per hour.  Other similar laws of purportedly good intentions are rent-control laws, which attempt to keep rents below market rates.  Those laws work fine, at least temporarily, for the fortunate few people who already have apartments at the lower rates.  But landlords mostly will do anything they reasonably can to maximize their profits.  (Remember, Incentives Matter!)  So they will attempt to evict lower-paying tenants, or convert their apartments into condominiums or even parking lots that will bring a market rate of return on their investments. And they most certainly will not invest in building new apartments.  So all of this results in a decrease in the supply of apartments, which further exacerbates the problem.  And this is normal human conduct.  So listen to Milton Friedman.  Regardless of good intentions, and even voters’ perceptions of those intentions, the only fair yardstick of good laws is their actual results.  If people were to understand this basic concept, this would be a positive revolution in our country.   

            Quote for the week:  “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”  Thomas Paine

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with
Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President