A hard question from a food mission

The government keeps the poor from working in many ways. With the government’s central planning and counter-productive interventions into the business of the so-called free citizens it keeps far more people unemployed than would happen under laissez faire policies.

I took a tour of an organization yesterday in Daytona Beach, Florida. It is a church mission that tries to feed the poor and homeless. This is a totally volunteer operation run by mostly retired folks that can donate time to keep the little operation open. They are able to serve about 400 families each month giving them food, toiletry items, and some clothing. I was with a tour group of supporters and we go visit and look around every year. (I go more often)

The head man of the operation asked a group of middle school kids a very hard question. One that no one ever gets right till they hear the answer. He explained that in Daytona there are a some events that happen like the Daytona 500 that cause the population to explode to many times its normal size for duration of the event. That leads to the nuber of people who line up for free food and items to drop. Yes, to go down. Why?

Why is it that during Speed Week, Bike Week, or the 500 the number of people who will line up on the sidewalk to wait their turn at free food goes down?

The answer given by a man who works with the poor and homeless was given after countless guesses by the kids. The answer is that during these huge events there is more work to be had in town. Work for the unskilled. Work for the down and out. Work that these people can get! And they would much rather work than be fed free. They want to find work.

It is heart breaking to know that the government and its minimum wage laws, health insurance requirements, and on and on — make about 10 percent of America chronically unemployed. Ludwig von Mises pointed out nearly a century ago that a totally laissez faire market would have almost no unemployment at all. (only those who chose not to work) Think of that the next time you hear a politician claim he wants to “help” the poor or unemployed. Especially think of that as the government, the Fed, countless wars and so on make ever more of us poor and homeless.


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