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Room with a view: To re-start the economy, government needs to get out of the way

Here are Donald J. Boudreaux and Alberto Mingardi at City Journal saying what I’ve also said, only they have econo-mojo and I’m just the editor of a West Coast news site:

Once the coronavirus is under control, restarting the economy faces many obstacles—especially social distancing. If we continue to remain at arms’ length from one another, we will hamper our natural “propensity to truck, barter, and exchange,” identified by Adam Smith as a key source of economic growth.

[The economy is a] complex and ever-evolving process of billions of human actions, each adjusting in real time to the signals — market prices — generated by the actions of consumers and entrepreneurs across the globe. Though the outcomes of this process can be tallied up in monetary terms and reported as GDP figures, to focus on only these aggregate outcomes is to miss the all-important details of the economic process.

Microeconomists understand that no one can engineer these details. If the economy’s institutional environment is sound — based on secure property and contract rights, rule of law, and free and open markets — market prices, profits, and losses will lead producers and consumers to act in ways that create prosperity. But for continuing prosperity, the market process must work freely. Entrepreneurs must be able to offer new products, workers empowered to accept and to reject job offers, consumers free to spend their incomes as they wish. And prices and wages must be free of government control and allowed to rise and fall as market conditions require.

California Governor Newsom and his allies are busily taking over every aspect of life in California — the latest is controlling general volunteering. Instead of looking around you for local needs, rolling up your sleeves, and getting down to work — you are now told to register with the State of California.

I can’t wait to read about the State’s blue-ribbon panel of techno-nerds on how to re-open hair salons, tattoo parlors, dry cleaners, dairies, wineries, resaurants, HVAC companies, insurance, “non-essential” manufacturing…

Your hair dresser knows how to restart the economy — let her cut hair! She doesn’t need a billionaire’s advice on whether you look better with a layered or blunt cut.

The State of California should turn loose the creativity of its citizens by unshackling State controls. Start by ditching AB 5. Allow people to go wild, fail, succeed.

Get out of the way.


  1. Elimination of national support for pandemic research followed by refusal to act on early virus information by the current administration has created the size of the current disaster. One way to limit over population at this point is to open everything to “free market” activity.

    1. Author


      Thank you for reading Orange County Breeze.

      Um, wow. One straw man, one badly aimed accusation, and a flying leap to The End of the World as We Know It.

      Nowhere did I (or the authors quoted in the editorial) say that research on COVID-19 should be eliminated. The more you know about what you’re fighting, the smarter you can fight.

      The accusation of “refusal to act” is aimed at the bluster of President Trump, an easy target. But that accusation should more accurately be aimed at Xi Jinping and China, which suppressed information about COVID-19 early and often and ongoing.

      The leap to preemptively blaming “free market” activity (why the scare quotes?) for solving overpopulation is worthy of Baryshnikov. Capitalism has solved overpopulation several times over since Malthus first sounded the Doomsday klaxon.

      Government should be held responsible for the underpinnings that allow free market mechanisms to work, including health and safety guidelines that free the flow of commerce (and other vital non-governmental community activity).

      We aren’t going to restore consumer confidence by keeping beauty parlors and barber shops closed. We aren’t going to restart the economy by paying restaurants to box meals for seniors. Those are bridges from Before to After. We need health and safety guidelines drawn up and made public that provide reasonable safety for communal activity and remove liability if businesses and organizations color inside the lines.

      Then government needs to get out of the way.

      Again, thank you for reading Orange County Breeze.

      Stay safe, stay healthy!

      Shelley Henderson
      editor, Orange County Breeze

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