By M. Jane Garvey
Cucumbers are just too expensive! We have a right to cucumbers! We need more affordable cucumbers!
We find a legislator that agrees with us. They write a bill legislating that cucumbers can’t be sold for more than 5¢. We are thrilled and we get everyone we can think of to support the bill in the hopes of it passing. Sure enough it passes.
Now we can buy cucumbers for 5¢. We are thrilled.
The grocers have some cucumbers in inventory. They sell them for 5¢.
The shippers have some cucumbers in the truck on the way to market. If the cost of delivering them is prepaid, they deliver them. If the cost of delivering them is not pre-paid, but they have a solid contract, they deliver them. So, the grocer probably has some additional cucumber supply from the pipeline.
The farmer has cucumbers planted. Is the cost of harvesting them, shipping them and selling them less than 5¢? If so, they may harvest this crop and ship it to market. But, when it is time to plant next years crop, they will use their time, money, and land to provide the best return possible, and cucumbers with a restricted price won’t be planted.
Now we have a cucumber shortage.
Some of the citizens will plant their own cucumbers. Some will plant extra to give to their friends and family.
Others will yell and scream, protest, and demand that someone get them cucumbers. After all they are a right, we all have a right to cucumbers. It is a human need!
So, the same government that helped out earlier looks to how they can help. They never look at lifting the restrictions on price, because they would have people protesting again that cucumbers are too expensive. So, instead they invest millions of taxpayer dollars to buy land, plant cucumbers, invest in equipment to harvest the cucumbers, and then sell it to the consumer at a price of 5¢. The cost of the government growing the cucumber, with all of the bureaucracy and corruption involved, is 3 times what it costs a farmer to grow cucumbers. But, the people who think cucumbers are too expensive and we need to have a price control are not looking at the true cost to society, or even to themselves. All of our taxes go up to help pay for their cucumbers.
Alternatively, the government subsidizes the farmer through tax incentives to grow cucumbers that can come to market at 5¢. Soon the farmer is demonized as a greedy lowlife who is ripping us all off.
This story is developing all around our country as private enterprise is being demonized and controlled and eventually the goods and services are being replaced by government operation at far higher cost. The movement discourages investment, innovation, and destroys our free market. Keep your eyes open and you will see many instances of this. Please react accordingly and tell the protesters the story of cucumbers.
M. Jane Garvey is President of the Chicago Creative Investors Association.