Supply and Demand
Not to sound like a libertarian or anything, but supply and demand are both worthwhile tools to use when analyzing social issues.
All too often, I feel like we are forced to fall back on party lines or think about things in the context of theory or morality instead of practical reality.
However, when it comes to certain social issues, supply and demand can help set us straight. A practical and moral approach combined.
It’s foolish to focus on the supply side of things and expect reliable, long-term results. Demand is where it’s at.
The situation is similar to that meme from the Jurassic Park film when Dr. Ian Malcolm says “life, uh, finds a way”.
Supply is similar. “Supply, uh, finds a way”.
If you want actual non-theoretical solutions, you have to go the demand route. Demand cannot just find a way, such as supply.
Supply has too many issues to correct. If supply gets attacked (and demand stays the same, which it often does), then the prices increase, driving a higher reward for further suppliers. Demand does not share this problem.
Consider this in the context of drug addicts. We’ve spent billions trying to hunt down and destroy the supply lines of drugs into this country. We’ve raided countless meth houses, banned countless substances, and created a militarized police force to combat the drug epidemic (DEA), but for what? The demand is still there. So the supply, uh, finds a way.
Even if we got more draconian, drugs would still flow. Look at countries where drug smuggling is punished by execution. It doesn’t disappear. If anything, it becomes even more profitable and lucrative.
The drug issue can only be pragmatically rectified on the demand side. We need to correct the issues causing our people to use drugs, thereby decreasing the demand and likewise decreasing the reward for the supply. The excess supply would then be little and not worth as high of a risk.
Our strategy of targeting the drug suppliers and letting the drug users go is ineffective. A heavier emphasis should go on the demand side, with a moderate approach on the supply side.
As supply increases (or simply stays static) while demand decreases, the profit lowers, reducing the worthwhile attributes of joining in on the supply side of the drug trade. This is both the practical and moral approach.
We could also use the supply and demand logic on the topic of gun rights.
There will always be a demand for violence. Impacting the supply of one tool that can be used for violence will do little. We have to target the demand for violence and lower that. Removing the tool would be about as successful as prohibition. The reason violence is the way it is, is because of the cultural environment, media portrayals, and similar topics. Fix those, and you’ll reduce demand. Supply is then not as much of an issue regardless of what it does.
We could also use the supply and demand logic on the topic of abortion.
There will always be a demand for abortion from women. Handicapping the supply will lower the rates of abortion, but it does nothing to address the underlying issue. Similar to that of the gun problem above. Banning the tool does little to address the reason why the tool is being supplied.
Instead, if we focused on fixing the humping-obsessed environment, bring a return to traditional marriage, develop a strong moral/ethical climate, and other rather obvious things that worked pre-1950’s, we’d solve the demand issue with abortion. We could also limit the supply, but to only look at the supply side is foolish. It doesn’t fix why it is so prevalent in the first place.
By focusing only on the supply, we focus on the expression of the problem. Not the root cause.
Hell, we could also use the supply and demand logic on the topic of immigration.
Reduce the demand for immigrants, and we’ll reduce the feasibility of the supply. What would happen if there was no business demand and no governmental demand for immigrants? They can let endless supplies of immigrants come into the country, but if they can’t find work or welfare because of a lack of a demand for immigrants, they’ll be forced to leave. The supply will fix itself.
The main point I’m trying to get across in this article is that “supply, uh, finds a way“. So focus on demand instead if you want real, tangible, long-term solutions to many social problems.
You’ll only find either temporary fixes or a masking of the problem if you solely take the supply route.
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