February 24, 2023:- Mayor Michelle Wu’s proposal to control the price of rental housing in Boston will not, in real life, control the price of rental housing in Boston. Why? Because, as Catherine Ruth Pakaluk explains in this article, politicians can control only something’s money price, not its real price.
Altering the number on a product’s price tag, without changing either supply or demand, does not make the product cost any less. The price of something is a signal of its value, not the value itself. Pakaluk likens price controls to trying to change reality by simply printing falsehoods about it; if you don’t like what you read in the news, just change the words on the page (a common phenomenon, you may have noticed).
Life would certainly be easier if you could alter what really happened just by hitting the Delete button and rewriting the story. But facts are not that flexible. Nor are the true values of products and services in a market consisting of millions of people making millions of decisions about millions of items.
That is one of the basic reasons that rent control will not work in Boston, just as it has not worked anywhere else.
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