Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Will Work For Flu Shots

You know that there's much political hay to be made--at your expense--whenever the old "price gouging" canard starts being raised again.

This time, politicians are scoring a few cheap points over supposed "price gouging" of flu shots. Whenever a politician starts whining about price gouging, there is one thing you can be absolutely sure of: you are in no way, shape, or form going to have any chance of getting whatever it is that they're supposedly keeping cheap for you.

Once again, for those of you who are new: artificial price controls (which are what so-called "price gouging" laws are) produce shortages. They circumvent the natural law of supply and demand. A healthy 30 year old man might not ordinarily get a flu shot. But when he hears frenzied media reports of shortages and sees that the clinic next door still has a few shots left for $10 or $15, it starts to look like quite a bargain. So he (and everyone else, regardless of need) runs to get one, and hence we have no more flu shots.

For those of you who needed a flu shot but didn't get one, here's some news for you: if the market were allowed to determine the price, you'd still be able to get one. Less people would have been buying them, and drug companies would have had incentive to make more of them. Keep that in mind the next time someone wants to give your state attorney general the Nobel Peace Prize for "keeping flu shots affordable." It's much better to have an expensive one that actually exists than an imaginary cheap one.

No comments: