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Friday, October 14, 2011



When I walk the aisles of my local supermarket I am in awe.  The choice of fruits, vegetables and meats is unbelievable.  Apples?  They have five different varieties.  Sausage?  Do you want links, patties, pork, turkey, reduced fat, low sodium, big and fat, small and skinny, slow cook or brown and serve?  We have them all.  Peas? Do you want canned, frozen, fresh, baby or regular? Soda?  We have orange, grape, mango. Sprite, Coke, Pepsi, vanilla, cherry or lemon colas, all in multiple sizes,  offered in diet or regular, and delivered in bottles, cans, or plastic. 
These variety and selection choices are in the meat, dairy, cereal, deli, and even the pet aisles.  There are aisles of specialty foods, and ethnic foods.  More incredible, I have never gone to the supermarket and found they were out of an item I wanted (well ok if you want soda bread for St Paddy’s day you need to get the buttermilk before March 14th.)

Where does all this food and these different varieties come from?  How are they produced and distributed in quantities that are affordable.  Much of this produce has a limited shelf life.  Who determines how much is produced, at what price it is sold, and where to distribute it in order to have minimum waste and spoilage?
If we created a government agency to determine what people wanted, how much they wanted, at what price they would pay, where produce would be grown, processed and distributed, how long would it take for that agency to make these decisions?  The task would be daunting.  Changes in producer’s output, and consumer’s taste would make this agency’s decisions obsolete before they could be implemented. 

Yet the free market manages this task beautifully.
I am not a total libertarian.  We need government for many things that the free markets would ignore.  We need regulations to protect us from unscrupulous people and to set standards.  However, if you ever doubt the power and the efficiency of the free market system, the strength of free choice and of the law of supply and demand to trump any government plan to run our lives and to make decisions for us, take a trip to the SUPERMARKET.  


  1. How true this is Joe, and one thing that we suffer from really badly here in the UK is when the weather is really bad certain fresh items just vanish from the shelves - in particularly harsh winters we see things like brussel sprouts and cabbage vanish from the shelves...I get these things just at to the amazingness of it all (sorry I think I just made that word up)

    Lou :-)

  2. Hi! I like your blog! I'm new follower I hope your visit! Have a Great Weekend!


  3. We are so fortunate in our country to have such variety. Good way to segue into politics ;-) Honestly though, it made perfect sense.