The great economist, Murray N. Rothbard, once joked that if we really wanted to see if truly free markets were preferable, libertarians should be given an area where the market would be allowed to work, he suggested New Jersey.
Boy, could New Jersey use a little of that sense right now. In the previous 2 posts, I chronicled 2 instances where the market, if allowed to work in the wake of hurricane Sandy, would help people. But because of union restrictions (backed likely by law), and anti-gouging laws (cheered by many who don’t know better), the people of New Jersey are worse off.
New Jersey, being part of the northeast, is wrapped in red tape. Every time I head north of DC, I can just feel the state and it’s restrictions. From the people who legally must pump one’s gas in Jersey, to the ban on sodas in New York, to the absolutely insane beer laws in Pennsylvania, I can feel the economy tighten around me each time I visit. I do indeed love New York, but there seems to be a law for everything.
It is in this environment that the catastrophe of Sandy has taken place. Unless the economy is freed up, the pain in New Jersey and New York is going to be more acute than it need be.
Vested interests are going to have to get over themselves. New York City restaurant inspectors are going to have to cut restaurateurs a break instead of ticketing them because they aren’t doing business in the prescribed way.
New Jersey and New York would be wise to take a lesson from the little town of Joplin, Missouri, which was nearly wiped clean from the map a year and a half ago by a giant tornado. The town is thriving again, largely because they suspended red tape and let the market work. The video below explains.