Silver as an investment

The Flint Water Disaster Shows Why We Need Markets

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mises.org /  / July 7, 2017

Many moons ago, I wrote a piece for mises.org introducing Westley’s Law, which was my theory for government growth based on its being held to lower expectations, relative to the market. It struck a nerve, of sorts. Many emailed me to say the idea required expansion into a book.

If I ever produce one, I’ll write up a section on the Flint water crisis, which is a classic case of the Law applied to the resource most central to man’s survival. For decades, Flint’s water consumers looked the other way while its politically-protected, socialist water utility overcharged and then flubbed delivery of water to Flint’s residents. (I am wary of calling them consumers because that term implies the ability to opt out.)

This incompetence lead to a series of reforms that were actually deforms. Chief among them was the decision to make the Flint River the utility’s primary water source in 2014, involving the use of faulty piping. The result: contaminated water, elevated lead levels in the water supply, sickness, and death.

The United States’ public broadcasting service aired a documentary about the crisis last month with the predictable conclusion that it wasn’t Flint’s socialist organization of its water system that was the problem, but that some bad, incompetent people led it. This is the go-to explanation for any government failure. It’s like arguing the Soviet Union failed simply because of its dearth of Public Administration graduate programs.

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