02 May 2010

Don Boudreaux on Fairy Godmotherism, Green Lantern Geopolitics and Care Bear Stare Policy

Cafe Hayek | Don Boudreaux | Brownies, Spinach, and Rainbow Stew

One of my very best and favorite former students, Laura Sacher, told me today that her nine-year-old daughter, Caeley, recently expressed the following desire at dinner: “Mommy, I wish there was a law that made brownies more healthy than spinach.”

Caeley is an adorable and bright little girl, one who no doubt does truly wish – and for all the right reasons – that brownies were better for the human body than is spinach.

When her mom pressed her, though, even young Caeley conceded that no “law” could perform such a miracle. Caeley understands that the impossible is not made real simply by legislators writing words on paper and then performing an elaborate secular ceremony over these words.

It’s a darn shame that so many “Progressives” and politicians have a weaker grasp of reality than does little Caeley. Low-skilled workers earning too little? No problem! Pass a minimum-wage statute – one that either miraculously makes low-skilled workers more productive, or miraculously suspends the laws of supply and demand so that wages are no longer bound by this reality.

Too many Americans getting too little health care for your taste? No problem! Legislate that health-insurance be available and affordable to everyone. Abracadabra! Problem solved!

Rents too high? Zippidy-doo-da — rent-control makes them lower.

A foreign country is plagued by a brutal dictator and infused with dysfunctional cultural norms? No worries! Shazam! The U.S. military will fix that problem up in a jiffy!

I do think he lets conservatives off too easily, though.  I addition to the Green Lantern Foreign Policy he mentions, they tend to think they can fix problems of "morality" by legislative fiat (e.g. all the GOP politicians who promise to "strengthen family values" when they are elected).

See also Boudreaux's follow-up post here, about Lynn Parramore's belief that government debt is not a problem because it can just create more money.
There is a difference between government and a fairy godmother. With fairy godmothers, when you have a problem, all you have to do is wish real hard and the problem goes away. Government does not have that same bibbity-bobbity-boo.
— Arnold Kling, EconLog, "Pragmatic Healthcare Reform"

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