The great economist Ludwig von Mises argued there that is no “third way” in economics between capitalism and socialism. When governments intervene into the economy, it creates ripple effects and distortions that almost always get blame on the free market. States then use this to justify further intervention, and the cycle continues.

Rising prices is the perfect example. Virtually all governments around the world inflate the money supply, which causes the price of goods to rise, hurting the poor the most because it usually affects things like food, gas and other basic essentials. In order to counter these bad, anti-market interventions, governments usually institute price controls: the surest way to create shortages.

It happened in the Soviet Union with their famous bread lines, where people would wait hours and hours in line just to finally enter a government grocery store with empty shelves. Richard Nixon instituted price controls in the early 1970s to counter the post-Vietnam War inflation, and Americans from that era surely remember the long gas lines.

The Libertarian Republic has a great post featuring pictures of Venezuelan food lines. Their socialist government has distorted the basic economic laws of supply and demand so much that Venezuelans are waiting hours in line to find empty grocery shelves.

It is heartbreaking, of course, but entirely predictable. This is what happens without the price structure of the market and the tyranny of good intentions exemplified by socialist and interventionist governments.

It also should be a reminder to Americans are not immune to price controls, food lines, and empty grocery stores; if things continue as they have been, it will be inevitable. As price inflation roars, does anyone think that U.S. politicians will let prices adjust – in other words, relinquishing coercive control – or double-down on their interventionism?

Prepare yourself accordingly, and don’t take our beautiful, full grocery stores for granted. Grow your own food, support farmer’s markets, and decentralize the food industry as much as possible!