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Shared Article from NPR.org

The government program that contributed to the baby formula shor…

Baby formula is in short supply after a voluntary February recall by the manufacturer, Abbott. Today, we explain how the government helped shape the U…

Darian Woods @ npr.org

So, it turns out that having a system of state-wide near-monopolies on baby formula was a pretty bad idea, and requiring WIC recipients to participate buy only from a sole source provider in their state was an especially bad part of that bad idea. Welfare programs should not be structured to create this kind of fragility in access to basic necessity goods, but the usual and completely explicable Public Choice considerations led officials to deliberately engineer this kind of monopolistic fragility into the entire market for baby formula in the United States. When another part of government forced one of those oligopolists to halt production, this terrible idea has produced extremely painful consequences, especially for low-income parents and their babies — exactly the people who were the supposed beneficiaries of the entire scheme.

The entirety of official conduct both in the lead-up to this crisis and in the public reaction to it has been appalling both in its callousness and in its utter ineptitude in the face of repeated entirely predictable cascading disasters. It would make a good black comedy, if not for the problem that comedy shouldn’t make you so absolutely goddamned angry at everything about the situation.

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