Saturday, June 25, 2016

Can Markets Be Created To Serve Public Needs?

In the case of Feeding America, an organization that distributes food donations to food banks around the country, the answer is apparently yes--in a spectacular way.  Working with an economics professor, Feeding America was able to create a market for making and getting food donations that actually increased the overall supply of donated food.  You can read about this in greater detail here.

It's possible to look at this article approvingly from two different perspectives.  Conservatives will, with some real justification, see a practical demonstration here of the efficiency of markets versus the ineptitude and heavy-handedness of central planning.  But that's in part because contemporary conservatives see everything from an even-or, zero-sum perspective.  As the article shows, the market created for food bank donations and distributions was, in effect, a heavily regulated one, and one in which the regulation was done with a very clear goal of optimizing the outcomes for everyone.  This was not an case of putting faith either in social Darwinism or Big Brother.  It was a choice in favor of something in between.

And "something in between" is usually where the truth lies.  Would that we could get back to remembering that.

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