Friday, August 24, 2012

Today's Quote

From A Capitalism for the People, by Luigi Zingales...

"At the top of the Grand Canyon there is a sign that reads, in large print, "Please do not feed the wild animals." In smaller type, it explains that feeding the animals will make them lose their ability to search for food on their own, jeopardizing their ability to survive in the wild. Human beings put up the sign. If the matter had been left to the animals, most of them would probably have preferred no sign: they are better off taking advantage of tourists' generosity, and they don't care enough about the survival of their species to forgo free lunches.

Much the same is true for business. Individually, businesses are better off with the free lunches offered by the government. This is why they spend so much money lobbying Washington. The overall free-market system, however, is worse off as a result. Just as it would be dangerous to let the animals determine the rules of the national parks, it is dangerous to allow businesspeople to dictate the rules of doing business, since they do not consider how bailouts weaken the functioning of the market. Like feeding animals, helping a large firm or a country avoid financial distress seems charitable but in the long run hurts the recipient. A country that protects wild animals from the corruption of free food should likewise protect businesses from the corruption of subsidies."

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