Things which should be Cancelled 2: Watching for iniquity

We live in a judgmental culture. Very judgmental. Every social media post is held as a document of condemnation, of a potential failing of the moral character. That scrutiny for iniquity is destroying any hope we have of being friends.

Isaiah 29:20-21 (KJV)

20 For the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off:

21 That make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought.

Isaiah 29:20-21 (NIV)

20 The ruthless will vanish,
    the mockers will disappear,
    and all who have an eye for evil will be cut down—
21 those who with a word make someone out to be guilty,
    who ensnare the defender in court
    and with false testimony deprive the innocent of justice.

2 Nephi 27:31-32 (Quoting Isaiah)

31 For assuredly as the Lord liveth they shall see that the terrible one is brought to naught, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off;

32 And they that make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of naught.

Doctrine & Covenants 45:50

50 And calamity shall cover the mocker, and the scorner shall be consumed; and they that have watched for iniquity shall be hewn down and cast into the fire.

There are plenty of verses in all books that tell us to avoid iniquity, but only these one tells us to avoid watching for it. And you have to admit, social media is all about watching for iniquity. And condemning the "guilty."

Why do we watch for iniquity?

We are human. We can't be expected to be perfect.

Now, speaking of why, perfectionism is an emotional health problem. Probably from childhood, some of our parents made it clear that unless we are perfect for them we can't be loved. It's part of performing well in school, part of being obedient when we were little, and certainly part of being on social media. Perfectionism is one of the poorest ways to "earn" love. Because you can't earn love, it is given freely. But when we were kids it wasn't given freely. It came with conditions. And that makes perfectionists out of kids (and those it don't become perfectionists become rebels, which isn't as bad, or become loathers of themselves, which is way worse).

Where does the desire to watch for iniquity come from?

Moses 4:1-4 (Pearl of Great Price, LDS Scripture)

And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.

But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.

Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down;

And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.

Forcing everyone to be perfect while here on Earth is the only way I can imagine Satan making sure that no one would ever make any mistake. Perfectionism was Satan's plan. We would give up our agency (and any possibility of eternal progress) and Satan would get the glory; we sacrifice for him. Heavenly Father's plan was to give us our agency, and Jesus would make the sacrifice. His was the better plan. The biggest thing ever to happen on this planet was when Jesus performed the atonement for all of us, freed us from our own iniquity, and made it so that having accepted Jesus our mistakes would never trail after us.

Pretty amazing, I think.

Things which should be Cancelled 1: Price Controls

In a free market the producers try to maximize profits, and the consumers try to minimize costs. Most of us are the consumers, and one effort to minimize costs is to influence politicians so they will set price controls. It works because we consumers have more influence at the polls than the producers, although the producers have more money to give the politicians. So it's a battle and the politician is the middle man.

Price controls are a limitation on the free market for, locally, the social good. I will give many examples of how that backfires for the larger economic system.

Rent Control

Rent control is the law passed in a city to limit the amount of rent that can be charged for certain apartments of apartment buildings. I have no idea how those apartments are chosen, but I'm certain no landlord choses to do this on their own. The lower rent means that citizens of lower means can find housing. But that's not what happened.

Managers of rent-controlled apartments found themselves with a meager income, typically not enough to cover taxes, mortgage and maintenance. With a money-loser on their hands, they kicked everyone out and boarded up the place and walked away. And the number of apartments went down. Like, 40% down. And the poor, looking for housing, found none. So rather then making housing more affordable, the rent controls limited availability to the point that non-rent-controlled apartment prices went way up, and only the fortunate had a cheap place to live. 

And it wasn't the poor who had those places. Many rich people would gather up several of these cheap-rent apartments and use them as offices or places for business people to stay when in town. And the housing for the poor diminished further.

A free housing market maximizes the number of housing units available. Some will be more expensive, because there are always wealthy people who want the nicest houses. But there are always less nice places with lower rent. And some dumps with very low rent. The problem isn't the rental price, it's the number of apartments. Free markets maximize the number of apartments.

Price Floors

A price floor is a minimum price for a commodity. Wheat, for example, has been a target for price floors. Because we must guarantee the production of food in the US, the federal government will guarantee the price of wheat, so that no farmer will need to leave wheat production for some other crop. To keep the price above the floor, the government would buy the surplus. They would store it for a possible drought in the future, or for sale to another country (or as a gift to another country the US wanted to impress) until all the storage was filled. And then it went into old Navy ships for storage, or was dumped and left to rot.

With high prices for wheat, consumers turned elsewhere for food. They stopped consuming so much wheat, which generated more excess and more dumping. Farmers switched to crops with no price floor, because the possibility of more profits was more alluring than a guaranteed price.

Similar programs exist or existed for almost all grown commodities.

Free markets let the farmer and the consumer find an optimal price that will keep the farmer in business and the consumer fed.

Anti-price-gouging Laws

Natural disasters are setups for price gouging, raising the price on goods and commodities because the disaster has made those things valuable and hard to get. Most local governments make price gouging illegal because it sounds morally wrong and restricts the availability of needed goods from those who need them. Things like bottled water, lumber, generators, gasoline, non-perishable food. But do the laws work?

As you remember from COVID lockdowns, some things are in big demand. Like toilet paper. What happens when the prices are kept low? Hoarding. It didn't keep items on the shelves. They went way faster, because the price held was so low. So some people got lots, the rest got none. Black markets were the result.

When gasoline became scarce in the 1970's an odd sort of hoarding was evoked because the price of gasoline was restricted. The fuel wasn't too expensive, but it seemed to be in short supply. Actually it wasn't. Drivers thought it was hard to find gas, so instead of filling when the tank was less than 20% full, they refilled at 50%. Drivers were hoarding gasoline in their own tanks. They visited gas stations more often, giving the impression that gasoline was in greater demand than it was. Which made them hoard all the more.

Take hotel prices when a hurricane makes landfall. Those evacuating need housing, and hotels are great for this. Price gouging laws make all rooms cheap, so a family with kids will get two rooms. Soon all rooms are rented, and the rest need to look further from home for lodging. 

In these cases, let prices follow the free market and the problems solve themselves. The available stock, while very limited, can now be accessed by everyone because you can't hoard at a high price, not just a few who got there first and bought the stock out. Same for the hotels. High prices encourage the family to get just the one room, leaving space for other families.

The advantage of the truly free market is enormous. Sellers charge whatever they want, knowing that when they charge too much they don't sell much either. Seller want to sell. Buyers want to buy. Each wants the price to go a different direction, and the free market optimizes the price for the greatest distribution of the goods available.