You can’t turn on the television or radio these days without being bombarded by ads urging you to fill out and return your census form. This is especially true if you have watched the NCAA Tournament over the weekend where the commercials were played constantly.
One of the most common tag lines is “We can’t move forward til you mail it back.” The idea is that if you don’t fill out your census forms to let the government know you exist, hospitals, roads, schools, government office buildings, and other infrastructure will be inadequate. After all, we need to “get our fair share of federal dollars,” right? All of this loses sight of the one legitimate purpose of the census, that being Congressional apportionment.
This entire exercise clearly illustrates the power of the free market relative to the incompetent and inefficient government. After all, if hospitals, schools, roads, etc. were provided by the free market, then entrepreneurs would add to the existing infrastructure based on need. That need would be expressed as high enough prices and/or crowding that leads one to believe that additional services are necessary and can be supported in the free market.
So, on one hand, we have the free market which allocates all these resources efficiently based on need and for free. On the other hand, every 10 years, the government spends $13.7 to $14.5 billion in a futile attempt to replicate what the market does. I’m sure our new health care system will be just as efficient!