Okay, boys and girls, so you wanna have the government regulate pencils? You wanna have some agency — say, the PPPP (People Pencil Protection Program), known by those in-the-know as “4P” or “Quad-P” — keep us safe from Big Pencil. You don’t want some guy — undoubtedly a guy — who’s out to make money — you know, profit (which the President calls “excess profits”) — for himself deciding how many of those little yellow thingies to foist on us and a price that gouges us, driving up the costs of education and the arts.
Let that happen and you just know that Big Pencil will merge with Big Pen, monopolistically cornering the market and controlling how and with what we write and draw. And you’re thinking just how long can it be before that conglomerate buys out Big Crayon. America will in a flash become corporate-controlled, they the masters and We the People the slaves.
You’ve heard of “free markets”, of “capitalism”, and of “economic liberty”, but as President Obama has said, we’ve tried that and it didn’t work. So, I ask but 3 and 2/3rd minutes of your time and attention. Who knows, you might just learn something.
The last thing that I want to do is to lecture someone, so that probably matches up pretty well with what you want. That said, you might wanna think — I suggest thinking rather than feeling, though that was probably a bit lecturey — about what actually works.
You just might, for example, wanna think how during the 20th century Big Ag — the farmers and ranchers of America — farmer-by-farmer, crop-by-crop, season-by-season — along with the co-ops, the truckers, the wholesalers, the feed and fertilizer places, and the retailers lowered the prices — inflation adjusted — of everything we eat while producing much more food and reducing the labor required to do that by about 4,000%.
You might also wanna consider whether that productivity increase — output per cost — would have been even greater had not the federal government brought to life the Department of Agriculture, which thought it wise to pay farmers to grow what they didn’t want to, pay farmers to not grow, pay non-farmers — say, residents of New York City — to not grow, disallow retailers from allowing customers to choose which chicken they wished to purchase, interfere with market-pricing, and much much more.
You might wanna contrast what farmers and ranchers did during the 20th century with what, say, the United States Postal Service did. The number of employees has increased while the volume of mail decreased. Some of those employees rotate to just sitting in a quiet room doing nothing while be paid. The price of a first-class stamp has increased from 2 cents to 45 cents.
If you’re not old enough to remember, ask your parents how much it cost them to get a calculator which would add, subtract, multiply and divide. Texas Instruments first made one in 1971, handheld and with a microchip. In 1972 the MSRP was $149.95. Today, you can get the same capability on a $9.95 wristwatch at no extra charge, so less than the price of a circa 1900 postal stamp and about the same as a 2012 . . . pencil.