David Friedman on Markets vs. Coercion
By David Henderson
Earlier today, David Friedman posted a thoughtful piece on a speech by a retired judge who told the audience how badly government works and why they should, therefore, try to make it work better. David points out that the judge was unwilling to consider his initial favoring of coercive solutions over voluntary solutions. One two-paragraph excerpt:
Under existing law, she [the judge’s autistic daughter] was entitled to a wide range of medical and educational services. When he tried to obtain those services for her, however, he found himself involved in a tangled web of bureaucracy, detailed and inconsistent rules, phone conversations with a computer on the other end. He suspected that insofar as he finally succeeded in working his way through that tangle to a successful outcome, it was at least in part because a federal judge was better able to get attention and favorable treatment from government bureaucrats than most other people would have been. He concluded that the young law graduates to whom he was speaking should devote their lives, at least in part, to seeing that poor Americans got from the government the things to which they were legally entitled.
It apparently did not occur to him that the contrast between his experience in getting services provided by government and his experience buying groceries on the private market, where you simply pay your money and walk out with what you have bought, might say something about the relative workability of the two systems for providing goods and services. Nor that if a system introduced in large part on the theory that it would even out differences between rich and poor turned out to serve higher status people much better than lower status people, perhaps the theory was wrong, perhaps government production and distribution was creating, rather than eliminating, inequality. When a judge goes to the grocery store, he gets the same groceries at the same price as anyone else.
For some reason, David doesn’t name the judge and so I looked him up. His name is Carlos Moreno, Associate Justice (Retired), California Supreme Court.