<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

This insight suggests that when government provides goods or services directly, we might expect it to do so with less efficiency than private firms—except in certain cases where the government agency may compete directly with private firms. At the local level, for example, services like garbage collection can be provided by government directly, by private firms under contract to the government, or by a mix of government employees competing with private firms.

A balanced view of markets and government

The British statesman Sir Winston Churchill (1874–1965) once wrote: “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all of the other forms which have been tried from time to time.” In that spirit, the theme of this discussion is certainly not that democratic government should be abandoned. A practical student of public policy needs to recognize that in some cases, like the case of well-organized special interests or pork-barrel legislation, a democratic government may seek to enact economically unwise projects or programs. In other cases, by placing a low priority on the problems of those who are not well organized or who are less likely to vote, the government may fail to act when it could do some good. In these and other cases, there is no automatic reason to believe that government will necessarily make economically sensible choices.

“The true test of a first-rate mind is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas at the same time,” wrote the American author F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896–1940). At this point in your study of microeconomics, you should be able to go one better than Fitzgerald and hold three somewhat contradictory ideas about the interrelationship between markets and government in your mind at the same time.

First, markets are extraordinarily useful and flexible institutions through which society can allocate its scarce resources. This idea was introduced with the subjects of international trade and demand and supply in other chapters and reinforced in all the subsequent discussions of how households and firms make decisions.

Second, markets may sometimes produce unwanted results. A short list of the cases in which markets produce unwanted results includes monopoly and other cases of imperfect competition, pollution, poverty and inequality of incomes, discrimination, and failure to provide insurance.

Third, while government may play a useful role in addressing the problems of markets, government action is also imperfect and may not reflect majority views. Economists readily admit that, in settings like monopoly or negative externalities, a potential role exists for government intervention. However, in the real world, it is not enough to point out that government action might be a good idea. Instead, we must have some confidence that the government is likely to identify and carry out the appropriate public policy. To make sensible judgments about economic policy, we must see the strengths and weaknesses of both markets and government. We must not idealize or demonize either unregulated markets or government actions. Instead, consider the actual strengths and weaknesses of real-world markets and real-world governments.

Questions & Answers

True or false. Incorporating the value of time required for the consumption of a product along with the market price of the product reflects the "full price" in the consumption of the product.
Kenneth Reply
True or false. If a consumer is initially in equilibrium, an increase in money income will make his indifference curves steeper, but will not alter the equilibrium position.
Kenneth
True
Lucille
true
Varfee
what is the Invisible Hand?
adrian Reply
The invisible hand is a metaphor for the unseen forces that move the free market economy. Through individual self-interest and freedom of production as well as consumption, the best interest of society, as a whole,are fulfilled.
Kelly
the invisible hand is part of laissez-faire,meaning "let do/let go," approach to the market. In other words, the approach holds that the market will find its equilibrium without government or other interventions forcing it into unnatural patterns.
Kelly
What are the limitations of a commercial Bank to create credit
Tanyi Reply
what is meant by efficiency of labour
Fritz Reply
production possibility curve
Mama Reply
graphs about production possibility curve?
Mama
I cant open the links in the text.
adrian
what are the concept of economic
dauda Reply
demand suply and population
dauda
graphs on about ppc
Mama
with the aid of diagrams illustrate movement along and shifts in demand curve
Mercy Reply
what is scarcity
ISAH Reply
limited in supply relative to demand
doris
scarcity means resources available to provide our daily needs are limited
Terkimbi
shortage of resources that we need for our demand. basically price go up due to this problem.
Jean
scarcity means our resources r not enough for us or our resources r limited
Adam
discuss the effects of price controls int the economy
Charmaine
• It stimulates excess demand, which cannot be statified ie shortage in the market. • It encourages hoarding of commodities by wholesales and retailers. • It leads to the creation of " black market" or undercounter sales and its attendant high prices. • It encourage conditional sales of products.
BAMBA
on how scarcity,choice and opportunity cost work together
Livin
means less than requirement
Livin
What are the reasons for the existence of monopoly?
Gerry Reply
Because such barriers occur in different forms, there are therefore varying reasons for the existence of monopolies. Ownership of a Key Resource: When one company exerts sole control over a resource that is necessary for the production of a specific product, the market may become a monopoly.
Kenneth
Thanks Kenneth
Gerry
what is international trade
Syed Reply
what is imperfect compition
Syed
what is crowding out effect
LAXMI Reply
what is federal finance?
LAXMI Reply
what is populic
Kute
what is imperfect compition
Syed
Explain five importance of the study of economic
Francis Reply
study of economics help a person to make rational choice in multiple wants. help individual to be a well all-round thinker.
Bitrus
the five important of the study of economics are as follows (1)time (2)management of resources (3)choice making (4)business(5)scarcity
Terkimbi
an increase in demand (while supply remains constant) what will happen to deh graph?
Thabiso Reply
what is going to happen to the graph if there is an increase in demand, While supply remains constant .
Thabiso
What will happen to the graph if there is an increase in demand While supply remains constant?
Thabiso
price will increase high than automatically demand will decrease
takshaveer
equilibrium ?
Issum
is when the supply and demand are balanced
ISAH
as demand increase and supply remain constant means the price will increase also
Livin
what is the difference between economic growth and economic development ?
yonas
What is black money
Abichu
what is demand
Sarkwah Reply
demand is the willingness to buy a commodity backed by the ability to pay.
Runwell
demand is mere desire on commodity with ability to back up with purchasing power
Terkimbi
demand is the want of commodity back by the ability to pay for that commodity
Adenira
demand is the willingness to buy any type of commodity for the exchange of something that is valuable to the seller.
Jean
demand is any valuable commodity that people are willing to buy at prices.
ISAH

Get the best Principles of economics course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Principles of economics' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask