Former Gov. Rick Perry addresses the National Press Club's Newsmaker Luncheon on his economic plan on July 2, 2015.
Photo by Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty

Rick Perry’s economics ‘lesson’ goes horribly awry


One of my favorite moments from Rick Perry’s second ill-fated presidential campaign came in September 2015, when the Texas Republican responded to criticism from Donald Trump. “A broken clock is right once a day,” Perry said at the time, unaware of his mistake.

Two years later, Perry leads the Department of Energy, where’s he’s still confused about things he thinks he understands. The Washington Post reported:

Speaking at a coal-fired power plant in Maidsville, W.Va., on Thursday, Energy Secretary Rick Perry made a strange argument about supply and demand, seeming to confuse the relationship between two of the essential forces in the economy.

“Here’s a little economics lesson: supply and demand,” Perry said, according to Taylor Kuykendall of Standard & Poor’s. “You put the supply out there, and demand will follow.”

Call it the “Field of Dreams” approach to economics: if you build it, they will come.

What Rick Perry apparently doesn’t appreciate is that this isn’t how capitalism works.

Here’s a little economics lesson: making more of something doesn’t mean people will want to buy it. Perry could, for example, leave the Trump cabinet and open a store selling nothing but dial-up modems, eight-track cassettes, and video-game players that only feature Pong, but even if he “puts the supply out there,” there’s no reason to believe “demand will follow.”

Postscript: Before you email me, I am aware of Say’s Law. I also know that no one’s taken it seriously in generations because it doesn’t make sense.