No, There’s No Bacon Shortage

Oct 1 2012 @ 8:03am

Yglesias debunks an Internet-fueled rumor:

[T]he "bacon shortage" [is] actually a global increase in meat prices as a slightly delayed downstream consequence of the increase in corn prices. Such an increase will, of course, be unpleasant for households used to buying as much cheap bacon as their hearts desire, but there shouldn’t be any actual shortages precisely because prices will rise. Shortages arise when price controls lead to a situation in which consumers want to buy more of something than actually exists, which can lead to government rationing. In our economy there will still be plenty of bacon on the shelves, just priced high enough to deter some people from eating as much of it as usual.

Ed Morrissey underscores the lesson in free-market economics:

Those of us old enough to remember the gas lines of the 1970s need no lesson in the economics of shortage.  The lines formed during two OPEC economic attacks, while the US limited domestic production through a complicated series of tax and regulatory policies.  The shortage came from artificial limits imposed by government on the markets, not through actual shortage conditions.  (The same was true in the 1940s, but there was a rational reason for the government action — it needed the gasoline for the war in Europe and the Pacific.)

The lesson from this should be clear: we should avoid government price-fixing.  Unfortunately we don’t, and probably nowhere more so than in agriculture, where price supports and subsidies distort markets.

One bacon shortage we could use, however, is explained in the above video.