Winners And Losers

Many people who appreciate the prosperity created by market economies may nevertheless lament the fact that particular individuals, groups, industries, or regions of the country do not share fully in the general economic advances, and some may even be worse off than before. Political leaders or candidates are especially likely to deplore the inequity of it all and to propose various government actions to "correct" the situation.

Whatever the merits or demerits of various political proposals, what must be kept in mind when evaluating them is that the good fortunes and misfortunes of different sectors of the economy may be closely related as cause and effect and that preventing bad effects may prevent good effects. It was not accidental that Smith Corona was losing millions of dollars on its typewriters while Dell Was making millions on its computers. It was not accidental that Safeway surged to the top of the grocery business while A & P fell from its peak to virtual1 oblivion. It was not accidental that coal-mining regions suffered economic declines with the rise of alternative fuel sources or that the number of pay telephones declined as more people acquired their own cellular phones.

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