Thursday, November 13, 2008

Stabilize This, Stabilize That (Bob Higgs)

Bob Higgs says when the state claims to want to "stabilize" something, watch your wallet:

Consider the word stabilize. It has a comforting ring, does it not? It calls up as a mental background, however, images of something that is currently unstable. Airplanes may become unstable shortly before they crash; teenage boys are said to have become unstable shortly before they gunned down their teacher and fellow students; unstable economies give rise to depressions, with rampant business failures and mass unemployment of workers; unstable regions harbor countries that often go to war with one another. Instability would appear to be a bad thing, so government actions to “restore stability” to X, Y, or Z would appear to be prima facie good things.

Things are not, however, always what they appear to be, as government stabilization policies illustrate when we consider them carefully. Anyone who has studied economic policy over a long period has encountered one stabilization policy after another that aside from failing to stabilize anything, was never actually intended to stabilize anything in the first place.

Instead, like most government policies, those purportedly aimed at stabilization are actually intended to transfer wealth, doing so under cover of the seemingly admirable announced goal of restoring order to something currently askew.

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