<< 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

what is unemployment
Munanag Reply
not working
Bethel
What is stock market?
JOHN Reply
explain the various types of cost curve
Ruth Reply
Short-run average fixed cost (SRAFC) Short-run average total cost (SRAC or SRATC) Short-run average variable cost (AVC or SRAVC) Short-run fixed cost (FC or SRFC) Short-run marginal cost (SRMC) Short-run total cost (SRTC)
Romy
supply function Qs=0+20P price of bread 30
Maricar Reply
what's economic development and growth
Popoola Reply
gamitin Ang supply function na Qs=0+20P Presyo ng tinapay 30.Dami ng ibebenta
Maricar
what do you understand by Ceteris Paribus?
Gabriel Reply
the external factor will remained constant, except the price
Hasib
explain the uses of microeconomics
Nikita Reply
uses of microeconomics
Nikita
Adam Smith's definition of economics
Sylvia Reply
what is economic deficit
Amjad
this is a situation whereby a nation's outcome or available resources are not enough to the people thereby causing scarcity
Ariel
prices of Quality demanded is equal to Quality supplied
NABUBOLO Reply
it's quantity demand and quantity supplied that's called equilibrium
Romy
no
NABUBOLO
they deal With prices
NABUBOLO
define the elasticity
NABUBOLO
explain different types of elasticity
NABUBOLO
oops 😬 you are right you talk about quality I tell about quantity
Romy
elasticity is the measurement of the percentage change of one economic variable in response to a change in another
Romy
Cross Elasticity of Demand (XED) Income Elasticity of Demand (YED) Price Elasticity of Supply (PES)
Romy
anything else?
Romy
I need to know everything about theory of consumer behavior
Grace
How does one analyze a market where both demand and supply shift?
Gabriel Reply
That's equilibrium market
Ramon
but an equlibrum can appear twice on the same market... both in Movement along the Demand/supply curve of shift in the Curve
Gabriel
I Mean on the same curve..
Gabriel
how can consumer surplus be calculated
Franklyn
How can we analyze the effect on demand or supply if multiple factors are changing at the same time—say price rises and income falls? 
Gabriel Reply
because of fall of income, less will be demanded and much will be supply as a result of price rises. Rise in price always motivate new supplier to enter into the system. But it only possible in the short run
Kweku
yeah.. I think Ceteris Paribus is applied in this case
Gabriel
that is the law of Demand is Inversely related to the law of Supply... so that mean a positive change in demand may produce a negative return to supply I think.
Gabriel
what are the difference between Wants and Needs
Gabriel Reply
When the price is above the equilibrium, explain how market forces move the market price to equilibrium. Do the same when the price is below the equilibrium.
Gabriel
economic problems
Manishankar
yeah please Explain
Gabriel
I don't know this is my question
Manishankar
no it was a mistake...😂😂 can you explain how Wants and needs differs 😌
Gabriel
wants is what human desire but might not need them, human want are mostly articles of ostentatious while need is what human must get to live e.g inferior goods
Ramon
what's equilibrium price
james
equilibrium prices is a situation whereby the price of goods supplied equates to the demand
Ariel
this whereby the prices of quality demanded is equivalent to quality demanded
NABUBOLO
wants are numerous desire man that man can do without if not purchased e.g. cosmetic while need are desires that you cannot do without e.g. food
Franklyn
equilibrium price is that level of output were quantity demanded is equal to quantity supplied
Arthur
what are the importance of studying economics
Bherla Reply
To know if the country is growing or not through the country's GDP
Ariel
to manage our resources
TOBI
compare base years GDP and the current years GDP
james
To tell whether a country is growing there are many factors to be considered not necessarily only the GDP due to weaknesses of GDP approach
james
What is the law of demand
Yaw Reply
price increase demand decrease...price decrease demand increase
Mujahid
ıf the price increase the demand decrease and if the demand increase the price decrease
MUBARAK
all other things being equal, an increase in demand causes a decrease in supply and vice versa
SETHUAH
yah
Johnson
how is the economy of usa now
Johnson
What is demand
jude Reply
Demand is the quantity of goods and services a consumer is willing and able to purchase at various prices over a given period of time.
Yaw
yea
SETHUAH
Okay congratulations I'll join you guys later .
Aj
yes
MUBARAK
demand is the quantity and quality of goods and services a consumer is willingly and able to purchase at a particular price over a given period of time.
TOBI

Get Jobilize Job Search Mobile App in your pocket Now!

Get it on Google Play




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