Why We Need Free Markets to Fight Pandemics

by Matt Battaglioli

The natural response in the face of a pandemic like the one we are experiencing today with COVID-19 is to take immediate and direct action to curb the crisis. We are told we need to have extensive quarantines, citywide lockdowns, and shelter-in-place orders. We supposedly need to limit the number of goods people can buy so they don’t hoard them up, and definitely keep prices where they are at so people can afford to get what they need. Hospitals and clinics must cancel surgeries and new treatment plans to ensure that they are prepared for the waves of patients catching the illness. Restaurants need to switch to takeout models! Stores need to switch to online-only, close their retail establishments, and prioritize important shipments! Government needs to make sure everyone does what they should to ensure we all make it out alive!

But what if I told you that none of that was true? What if I told you that all you need in this situation is what you need every day in a free society: prices that can rapidly and easily adjust to changes in supply and demand?

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