Pitchman, pundit roles at odds
By Donald J. Boudreaux
Published: Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, 8:56 p.m.
Peter Morici, a professor at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, and former chief economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission, is a pitchman for Kyocera office copiers. To my eye, he's quite effective at helping Kyocera sell more copiers in the U.S.
And make no mistake: By doing well, Morici is also doing good. By enabling Kyocera to better compete in the market, he's part of the competitive process that not only increases the prospects for Kyocera's shareholders to earn higher profits, but also increases the quality of copiers available to consumers while simultaneously lowering the prices of copiers.
Market competition is an ongoing process among sellers to persuade consumers voluntarily to choose among the vast array of goods and services available at any time from different producers. This competition is key to our high standard of living. As long as consumers are free to spend their money as they see fit, producers must serve consumers. This rivalry among producers is driven by producers' understanding that, in free markets, profits are earned only by those producers who offer to consumers the best deals as judged by consumers .
The consequences of this competition are steadily improving product quality, ever-expanding product selection, higher and higher efficiencies in production, and lower and lower prices.
And the more competition, the better. Whenever government restricts competition, the government prevents consumers from passing judgment on the merits of deals that would be offered by producers whose participation in the market is artificially obstructed. Producers who don't offer consumers good deals do not threaten the market shares of their competitors. Therefore, the only producers that government intervention keeps from serving consumers are those producers who would offer deals that make consumers better off.
Also, the only parties helped by such artificial obstructions of competition are the producers who are sheltered from having to compete as vigorously as otherwise.
So consumers invariably lose when government obstructs competition. Not only are consumers denied the right to trade on mutually agreeable terms with some producers, they pay prices higher than otherwise and get worse product selection and quality.
Protecting producers from competition transforms the economy from being dynamic and innovative into being stagnant and antiquated. Recognition of this reality brings us back to Morici.
His services as a pitchman for Kyocera copiers deserve sincere applause. But his frequent economic commentary on trade does not. Morici's economic commentary, in fact, typically criticizes the very sort of trade that his own services as a Kyocera pitchman promote.
Morici routinely insists that Americans are harmed by imports. Well, Kyocera is a Japanese company that sells copiers made outside the U.S. If Morici's op-eds and other economic commentary are to be believed, his work as a pitchman for Kyocera damages the U.S. economy by destroying American jobs.
But Morici the Kyocera pitchman is a much better economist than is Morici the economic pundit.
The pitchman is an active participant in the process of competition. He celebrates consumer choice. He understands that Americans are not harmed by buying copiers made by non-Americans.
The economic pundit will have none of it. He opposes consumers' freedom to choose to buy foreign goods. He wants to restrict competition.
Ignore the pundit; heed the pitchman.
Donald J. Boudreaux is a professor of economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. His column appears twice monthly.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Garden Q&A: Firecracker vine OK for trellis?
- MLB notebook: Dodgers ace Kershaw pitches simulated game
- Penguins notebook: Gibbons day-to-day after Game 2 injury
- Starkey: Penguins’ arrogance astounding
- Cole’s strong outing wasted in 14-inning loss
- Pirates notebook: Hurdle standing behind Grilli
- Chicago defenseman Seabrook suspended for hit on St. Louis captain Backes
- Three ejected after Pirates, Brewers brawl
- Egg decorating turns to fight, charges in Brookline, police say
- Abdullah widens lead in Afghan vote tally
- I-279 crash injures motorcyclist