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The Perils of 'Industrial Policy'

Posted By Don Boudreaux On September 24, 2008 @ 6:44 am In Government Intervention,Myths and Fallacies,Reality Is Not Optional,Regulation,The Economy | Comments Disabled

Here’s my latest column in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review [1].  In it, I do my best to explain why "industrial policy" — now being called for by some prominent business executives — is a very, very, very, very, very bad idea.  I conclude my column with these paragraphs:

Uncle Sam, though, has sufficient power to keep its industrial policy "working" for quite some time.

But by "working," I mean working only on its own narrow terms. It
would work to protect established producers by successfully freezing
the economy, making static that which was once dynamic — making
stagnate that which was once constantly refreshed with new ideas and
new opportunities and killing that which was once alive.

An industrial policy seriously pursued by Washington will make
Americans (and, indeed, people all across the globe) significantly
poorer. Prosperity is not, and cannot be, created or maintained by
policies built on the premise that producers must be served by
consumers.

Prosperity means the widespread satisfaction of consumer
desires. Firms that satisfy those desires should be celebrated and left
free to do their thing. But the moment they stop meeting consumers’
desires, for whatever reason, these firms must also be left free to perish.

That’s the only "industrial policy" we need.

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[1] Here’s my latest column in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/opinion/columnists/boudreaux/s_589741.html

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