Government Involvement Drives Up Costs

"The more government gets involved, or the more government regulation, the greater are the increases in prices over time."


For several years now, economist Mark Perry has published a chart showing price changes from several key sectors of the U.S. economy. And with each update the divergence of prices becomes more glaring. "The obvious conclusion," Perry says, "is that the more government gets involved, or the more government regulation, the greater are the increases in prices over time. The less government intervention or regulation, the greater the decline in prices over time."

NEXT: Brickbat: And Don't Come Back

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. In 1998 college cost exactly the same as a toy? I. Don’t. THINK. So.

    1. The graph shows percentage increase in price. So everything starts at 0 and the graph shows how much it has changed by percentage.

      1. Sarcasm was free back then.

        1. Sarcasm was also easier to identify back then because we had a sarcasm font.

          Well, not exactly. But we talked to each other more than texted and emailed. And audio communications can carry a lot more sarcasm indicators than mere text. Honestly, sarcasm is a questionable communication mode in text. It’s far too easily misunderstood. When it’s misunderstood, it’s not funny – it’s just mean.

          1. Sarcasm font? Yeah, that’d be real useful.

        2. lol. heavily regulated now.

        3. Facebook is paying $530 Per day. Be a part of Facebook and start getting Extra Dollars every week from your home.xsa ..I just got paid $8590 in my previous month……….,Visit Site

    2. I’m bearish on sarc in this post covid world.

      1. Soon to be illegal?

        1. humor encourages social interaction. We have to all lock it down till a vaccine emerges.

        2. Sarcasm, since not everyone “gets” it, is obviously HATE SPEECH!

    3. Now college is for people who still play with toys.

  2. ONE small solution? For, like, hospital services? Sneak in your own aspirin, and avoid that $500-per-each-pill, aspirin charges!

    Another solution is to have yourself legally declared to be a dog… See the vet instead! They charge a LOT less!

    This guy here had a species-change operation, declared that he FELT like a cat, so he became a cat! = Dennis Avner

    1. Funny story, my grandmother and her dog both had a MRSA infection (not at the same time, and they didn’t get it from each other) and they both got prescribed the same antibiotic. Something ridiculously strong that’s normally used for legionnaire’s disease and leprosy. Anyway the vet didn’t have it in his pharmacy so we had to fill the dog’s prescription at Walgreen’s (came place my grandmother goes)

      So my grandmother’s prescription was $250 dollars, of which the insurance covered all by a 30 dollar co-pay

      The dog of course had no insurance, so Walgreen’s signed us for their prescription saving plan, which means we paid a flat 35 dollars for the exact same pills for the dog

  3. I have also heard that there is a study with graphs showing that water is wet.

    1. That’s not all that was wet last night.

  4. “Everything government touches turns to crap.” -Ringo Starr

    1. He also turns down booze, coke and pot. Not the libertarian to lead this charge.

      1. There’s nothing un-libertarian about turning that stuff down. Trying to force those decisions on others is another matter.

    2. What happens when the government touches crap?

      1. Ever had a dog that likes to eat poop? Its still crap when it comes back out

      2. It becomes government cheese.

  5. It’s really fun to watch the clever little ways people devise to skirt the rules. Here in South Jersey, all state, county, and even city parks are closed, but for some reason the schoolyards haven’t been padlocked. Day by day, people have been gathering at the elementary school parking lot in a little cluster that looks like a “trunk-or-treat” but without the candy or costumes. They sit around socializing for hours on end from the hatches of their SUVs, careful to maintain the requisite distancing. It’s oddly endearing to watch. I call it the “coronapicnic.” A similar assembly gathered this past weekend in the parking lot of an abandoned strip mall for a child’s birthday party, complete with clown. After everyone showed up, they rolled out for a noisy little parade through the streets of our borough.

    As fun as it is to watch people gently thumbing their noses at the authorities, I can only the restrictions are lifted before frustrations reach a boiling point. South Jersey was a hotbed of Revolutionary War fervor. There’s only so much the governor and his minions will be able to get away with before shit turns ugly.

    1. a child’s birthday party, complete with clown.

      A clown with an anti-virus mask is *really* scary!

      1. Actually, this clown reminded me more of Winnie the Pooh meets the fellating bear from Kubrick’s The Shining.

        1. Unintentionally ironic commentary on the current state of the economy maybe?

    2. Like everything else in this state, it only matters if it’s affecting those Godless northerners. The impact of the virus in south NJ has been significantly less.

  6. Or rising prices demand government intervention. The correlation between old people and broken hips doesn’t prove that broken hips cause aging. While it’s easy enough to intuitively grasp that government involvement tends to raise costs and prices and probably not too difficult to prove the same, I don’t see how this chart establishes a proper cause and effect relationship.

    1. If prices rose and gov subsequently got involved so as to reduce the price increases where are the subsequent decreases?

    2. Can any chart ever show cause and effect? Seems like charts always show correlation.

    3. While you are correct that this chart alone only shows correlation and does not prove causation, other charts that cross regulation/deregulation boundaries in time or jurisdiction do conclusively demonstrate causation.

      However, because those charts are point-analyses, they do not show the sweeping scale and overwhelming cost of government interventions the way that this overview-chart does.

    4. The chart is not the thesis. The chart is merely a demonstration of the thesis.

  7. Overall inflation 59.6% since 1998

    Is that so?

    We have been assured that the Current Annual inflation for the 12 months ending in March 2020 is 1.54%.

    1.54^12=177.9, so the government is doing a great job at containing costs!

    Can I be an economist now?

    1. Sarcasm? In case not, no because:
      a) an annual inflation rate of 1.54% can’t then be raised to the 12th power to get anything useful. If you’re trying to imply an annual number, you’re double-counting. If you’re trying to imply a relationship since 1998, that’s 22 years.
      b) Calculation of exponents on percentages requires returning the number to decimal format first. In other words, it’s not 1.54^12. It should be (1.0154^12 – 1) * 100

      Combining a & b, what I think you probably meant was (1.0154^22 – 1) * 100 = 40.0%

      And, of course, all that’s before criticizing you for trying to match a single month’s spot value to a multi-decade trend without assessing the standard deviation of the data points.

  8. That oil price, wow. Hey MBS, scammer get scammed.

    1. IKR? I just filled up for $1.35/gallon (in MD). Well, the price was $1.85 and I had $0.50 discount from grocery store points, but still. That tank of gas will probably last me months at this rate.

  9. There are notable exceptions in the graph. Automobiles are highly regulated, from safety standards to fuel economy to even how they are sold. Yet prices have decreased. Then look at college textbook. Nearly free of government policy, yet they’re as steep as college tuition.

    Both of these have their explanations though. In general Mark Perry is correct.

    1. Textbooks may be free of government policy, but government financial aid certainly has an impact.

    2. Regulation isn’t the only form of government involvement. In the case of textbooks the government has simply injected large amounts of money into the market in the form of financial aid and loans, so like tuition, prices have largely increased in order to collect every dollar that the government is willing to spend

  10. Also shown by the graph – Most of the industries in red are service industries, everything in blue is product driven. Advancements in technology have driven down the cost of most consumer products.

  11. I think the government is heavily involved in cars, but new cars are flat.

    Try again.

    1. Most new government involvement in cars since 1998 has been industry-driven. The government didn’t mandate things like airbags and antilock brakes until the industry made it clear they were already going to implement those things on every car

      In other words, the government told the auto industry to do what they were already doing, then took the credit

    2. Technological advancements have driven down the cost of production.

    3. Everything is heavily regulated. Literally everything. It’s a matter of relative amounts. Finance, Health, Restaurants are near the top. Cars and other consumer products (such as toys) are very heavily regulated relative to ‘unregulated’ but still much less so than the most heavily regulated sectors.

  12. The focus of the infographic is on the long-term and chronic inflationary impact of government; but the pandemic related interference in the energy market (energy prices affect all prices), stimulus, loans, giveaways, and Fed actions are very blatant anti-market, even anti-American, government interventions against what should be the biggest natural deflationary adjustment in many decades. These invasive government actions will, likely, cost every American more for every purchase we make for the rest of our lives.

  13. Maybe add Lasik eye surgery. A far less regulated medical procedure than most and the price has fallen ~200% along with much higher quality in many ways.

  14. Oh, Kent, I’d be lying if I said my men weren’t committing crimes.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.