From the always quotable P.J. O'Rourke, on the free market:
"The free market is not an ideology or a creed or something we're supposed to take on faith, it's a measurement. It's a bathroom scale. I may hate what I see when I step on the bathroom scale, but I can't pass a law saying I weigh 160 pounds. Authoritarian governments think they can pass that law—a law to change the measurement of things."
Mark Perry's Carpe Diem blog:
Exhibit A: The minimum wage law. A teenager with no work experience steps on a "bathroom scale" that accurately and truthfully measures the market value of (his or her) unskilled labor, and the scale says "$5.00 per hour." Politicians pass minimum wage legislation to rig the "bathroom scale" of labor value to instead produce an inaccurate, false inflated reading of "$7.25 per hour." And they then seem puzzled that more than one out of every four teenagers who is looking for a job is unable to find one, but that's what happens when you "rig" the "bathroom scale."
Carpe Diem Blog. Here's Perfesser Perry:
The empty shelves above in Zimbabwe are the result of gov't. imposed price controls, forcing shopkeepers to lower prices by 50% in response to suring inflation that is estimated to be 4,500%.
If the government arbitrarily prices something too high, no one will purchase it (as in expensive teenage labor). If the government arbitrarily prices something too low, the shelves will be empty (as in Zimbabwe, where producers and retailers didn't bringing goods to the market when they couldn't make a profit).
The solution? More holidays, sick days, vacations, personal days, and longer lunches for government regulators. When they aren't working, they can't hurt anybody.