Last week a group of career bureaucrats responsible for checking the accuracy of the declared weight of packaged foods discovered that Whole Foods had "been systematically overcharging customers in a number of its stores" because the announced weight of the food was higher than the actual weight. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, a prominent Libertarian and proponent of freedom, issued an immediately apology and assured Whole Foods customers that it would never happen again. The whole thing seemed like a simple mistake and not an evil attempt on the part of a profit seeking corporation to cheat the public.
Stephen Mihm, of Bloomberg View, wrote a scathing piece which was published in the Denver Post last week accusing Whole Foods of "resurrecting the thumb-on-the-scale trick." I was unaware of this trick but Mihm assured me that "honest weights and measures are the norm these days -- hence the dismay and outrage at Whole Foods. But for most of US history, getting cheated at the grocery counter was as American as apple pie." For a man writing for a pro-business institution, Mihm does not have much sympathy for profit seeking businesses.
Mihm tells the story, allegedly historicaly accurate, of how almost all profit seeking grocers in the former United States would cheat their customers on a regular basis. Then a beneficent, omniscient and omnipotent government came along and fixed everything. He told me that "it wasn't until the early 20th century that things changed." What changed in the 20th century, according to Mihm? He writes, "a willingness to use the power of the state to ameliorate the excesses of unfettered capitalism."
Oh how I despise the phrase "unfettered capitalism." Unfettered capitalism, as the phrase is always used, means a free market that is regulated by the desires and actions of the consumers alone. Worshipers of government and government regulations are terrified by the idea of an economic state in which government is not observing and regulating every single transaction. Those who bow down at the throne of government regulation cannot conceive of the possibility that consumers can regulate their own purchases better than bureaucrats. In their view of the world all consumers are mindless sheep in desperate need of a government shepherd to protect them from the evil capitalists who are in reality doing nothing more than producing goods and services for prices the consumers are willing to pay.
Does it follow that all profit seeking businesses always operate with complete perfection and absolute moral purity? Of course not. Men are men and men are sinful. There will be businessmen who try to cheat and steal. But who is better qualified to punish the cheaters: an army of highly paid career bureaucrats or consumers who tell their friends and neighbors not to shop at a particular store because the shop owner attempts to cheat them? I think we all know the answer to that question. Unless you are a career bureaucrat, in which case I would never expect you to see the world in a clear economic light, you understand that sovereign consumers can bring about the desired changes when grocers try to cheat.
Mihm concludes by proudly declaring that "regulators continue to sniff out dishonest packaging, short weights, and other frauds -- just as they did when they announced their findings against Whole Foods in recent days." Praise the regulators! Praise the government! Praise career bureaucrats and career politicians! How did we ever survive without them? Still.....something is bothering me. There is an idea in my head that I just can't get out. I have a question for Mr. Mihm. Mr. Mihm, if government regulators are our protectors and work tirelessly to ensure that we all live in a world with honest weights and measures, could you please explain the graph, found below, to me?
Mr. Mihm, being the economic genius that he is, probably does not understand the above graph. Let me tell you what it is. The graph shown above illustrates the rate of increase in the supply of money in the Socialist Democracy of Amerika since 1980. More precisely, it shows the rate of increase for each year when compared to the prior year. For example, the supply of money in the SDA increased by around 10% between 2012 and 2013. Or, the supply of money increased by about 3% between 1995 and 1996. Notice that the supply of money has never decreased. In other words, the supply of money in this immoral country has increased by something between .1% and 13% every year since 1980.
Do you understand the significance of the information shown in the graph? Honest weights and measures would insist that the value of the dollar not change. Each day, each month, each year the value of the dollar should be one dollar. To decrease the value of a dollar and not inform those who are using dollars for their daily economic transactions is an act of deceit and theft. What you see above is called inflation and inflation is an unjust change in the value of a dollar. The practice of inflation is the practice of deceitful weights and measures. When the dollar decreases in value every single day everyone who uses dollars has a small amount of money stolen from him. Now just who do you think is doing the stealing?
You guessed it! The federal government, by means of the central bank, is robbing you every single day by using counterfeit dollars that decrease the value of the dollars already in circulation. Where are the regulators? Where are the career bureaucrats who should be rushing in and checking the value of the dollar every day? Where are the reports about the outrage of the citizenry over the fact that they have been cheated by their own government on a daily basis? Where is the praise for the brave men and women who expose their thievery? The answer to all of those questions is the same. There is no criticism of the government because the government is god. There is never ending criticism of profit seeking businesses because men are filled with sinful envy. When Whole Foods makes an honest mistake they are crucified for their error. When the federal government robs its citizens on a daily basis it is praised and thanked. What do you call that if not an act of worship?