Against Collectivism

In the last year I have made our sister legal blog, Library of Law and Liberty, part of my newsfeed. I read most of their posts and learn from many of them. Today, blogger and George Mason University Law School Professor Michael S. Greve has a good post on why we Californians are suddenly paying more than $5.00 for a dozen eggs. I noticed the price at the Safeway about 10 days ago, with the first eggs I had bought in the new year. Before reading Professor Greve’s post, I already knew why because the Wall Street Journal had an excellent unsigned editorial explaining why.

Here’s the key segment from that editorial:

The cause of these price gyrations is an initiative passed by California voters in 2008 that required the state’s poultry farmers to house their hens in significantly larger cages. The state legislature realized this would put home-state farmers at a disadvantage, so in 2010 it compounded the problem by requiring that eggs imported from other states come from farms meeting the same cage standards, effective Jan. 1, 2015.

It probably will not surprise regular readers of my posts to know that I voted against this initiative. Why does that matter? You’ll see shortly.

Professor Greve’s discussion isn’t about the economics per se but about the constitutionality of the restrictions and about the odds that the U.S. Supreme Court will crack down (pun intended) on a state government that seeks to regulate interstate commerce. I have nothing to add to his analysis, which, in my layman’s view of the Constitution and the players, is excellent.

I do, however, want to challenge Professor Greve on one of his statements. He writes:

You get the idea, even if California voters don’t. Mind you: they voted for this stuff and deserve absolutely everything that’s coming to them.

But I didn’t vote for “this stuff.” I don’t agree that I have this “coming to” me. Nor do the millions of other Californians who voted the way I voted. Nor do the millions of Californians who were allowed to vote but didn’t vote. Moreover, I would wager that fewer than 10,000 Californians under 18 voted for “this stuff.” So the millions of people under age 18 don’t have it coming to them either.

I think Professor Greve should be more careful in claiming that people who live in a state have coming to them what their fellow voters vote for. Although I’m guessing that he doesn’t mean to do so, he is embracing collectivism.