Today I will pass along a potpourri of news, quotes, and commentary that have been posted recently on Mark Perry’s economics blog that I hope you will find enlightening.
1. An excerpt from George Will’s latest column: “When Protectionism Is Not About Protecting America At All”:
Fomenting spurious anxieties about national security is the first refuge of rent-seeking scoundrels who tart up their protectionism as patriotism when they inveigle government into lining their pockets with money extracted from their fellow citizens.
2. From the editorial in WSJ “These Prices Are a Steal—and in Some States, That’s Illegal” by C.J. Szafir and Patrick Gleason:
When Meijer opened two stores in Wisconsin, the state demanded it charge more for dog food.
Are low prices putting your family at risk? Believe it or not, some regulators seem to think so. Twenty-six U.S. states still have a “minimum markup” law, a relic of Depression-era economics that prevents businesses from charging less.
In Wisconsin, the price police have gone after Meijer, a superstore that sells everything from groceries to electronics to pharmaceuticals. In 2015, when it opened its first two stores in the Badger State, the greeting Meijer received was far from “Wisconsin nice.” Rivals filed complaints accusing it of pricing 37 items—including bananas, dog food, ice cream and Cheerios—below cost. Meijer, which runs 200 stores in five states, says this was the first time it had ever been accused of hurting consumers by charging too little. Nonetheless, Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection sent the superstore a letter explaining the requirements of the state’s Unfair Sales Act.
3. According to Robert Rapier writing in Forbes, Venezuela’s oil industry is finished:
Venezuela will continue to produce oil for many years, but its importance among the world’s oil producers has fallen drastically. The Permian Basin in West Texas now produces 1.2 million BPD more than Venezuela — a situation that would have been unimaginable a decade ago. Saving Venezuela’s oil industry will require major reforms that once again encourage investment in the country. I doubt that’s on the agenda until the current mess resolves itself. Until then, you can stick a fork in Venezuela’s oil industry. It is an oil superpower no more.
4. Mark Perry’s quote of the day on January 25, 2018 was from Bastiat, writing in his 1848 book The Law:
5. From a post on January 21, 2018: Last November, CTV News in Canada ran this incredible story about growing wait times for medical care in Canada due to its socialized medical system: “‘It’s insane’: Ont. patient told she’d have to wait 4.5 years to see a neurologist.” Here’s a slice:
An Ontario doctor says health-care wait times have reached “insane” lengths in the province, as one of her patients faces a 4.5-year wait to see a neurologist. When Dr. Joy Hataley, a family practice anesthetist in Kingston, Ontario, recently tried to send a patient to a neurologist at the Kingston General Hospital, she received a letter from the specialist’s office telling her that the current wait time for new patient referrals is 4.5 years. The letter said that, if the delay is “unacceptable” to Dr. Hataley, she should instead refer the patient to a neurologist in Ottawa or Toronto.
Dr. Joy Hataley said she was shocked when she received this letter from a neurologist’s office. Dr. Hataley, who has been outspoken about wait times and other issues plaguing Ontario’s health care system, said the wait time “shocked” her. She wanted to shock others as well, so she tweeted a photo of the letter above and tagged Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins and Kingston-area MPP Sophie Kiwala. Dr. Hataley said she’s used to hearing back from specialists who are unable to see her patients for months, and even up to 2.5 years. But a 4.5-year wait is “insane,” she told CTVNews.ca in a telephone interview. “This is an alarm bell,” she said. “What it is to me is a red flag to the system.”
“When Dr. Hataley first pulled up the response from the referral, both of us were just seeing the wait time first hand, I was just in disbelief and shocked,” Wooldridge, a 40-year-old developmental service worker, told CTVNews.ca in an email. “The more I thought about it after leaving her office I was just annoyed and felt that this is ridiculous and not in any way okay.” Wooldridge said she will continue to live with chronic pain and be cared for by Dr. Hataley until she can see a neurologist. She said she shouldn’t have to travel outside of Kingston to see a specialist.
“I don’t honestly feel that I should have to go to another city when we have a neurologist 4.5 minutes up the road and I’m a resident of the city in which my taxes help go towards,” she wrote. “I don’t think it’s right or fair to drive to another city…it’s financially not easy for me to just pick up and go, as much as I would like to.”
6. In the video linked below, Ronald Reagan tells the joke about waiting ten years to get a new car in the Soviet Union.
I end with a quote from Winston Churchill – “There is nothing government can give you that it hasn’t taken from you in the first place.”
Until next time, cheers!