Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Bastiat Predicted the Baby Formula Crisis 170 Years before It Happened

Posted by M. C. on June 7, 2022

The formula shortage is due in large part to past and present government promises of “costless” benefits. 

Like any purveyors of fiction, those who promise benefits without costs must maintain that fiction even in the face of failure. Rather than be revealed as incompetent or liars, they simply devise new promises. Today’s new promises come in the form of a government airlift of miniscule volumes of baby formula set to artificial fanfare.

Robert Zumwalt

The current baby formula shortage in the United States is a pressing crisis, and many in the media have been rushing to explain how such a thing could have happened. But on close analysis, it appears to share the same root as virtually every other crisis experienced in the modern world: a government promised benefits without costs.

Our political leaders either fail to understand or outright ignore the basic, unavoidable limitation on government action, that no government benefit comes without a cost. As French writer and politician Frédéric Bastiat wrote in his 1848 essay, Government:

Thus, the public has two hopes, and Government makes two promises—many benefits and no taxes. Hopes and promises that, being contradictory, can never be realized.

Now, is not this the cause of all our revolutions? For between the Government, which lavishes promises which it is impossible to perform, and the public, which has conceived hopes which can never be realized, two classes of men interpose—the ambitious and the Utopians. It is circumstances which give these their cue. It is enough if these vassals of popularity cry out to the people—”The authorities are deceiving you; if we were in their place, we would load you with benefits and exempt you from taxes.”

The current baby formula shortage is one more example of government promises running into the contradictory reality of their own hidden costs.

Government Promises and Hidden Costs

See the rest here

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