Some bureaucrats wouldn’t recognize a free market if it bit them on the nose. If you think I’m exaggerating, look at this (thanks Combest):
The Missouri Department of Agriculture is asking for grant applications from organizations or groups of individuals who have ideas for making the state’s specialty crop industry more competitive.
Okay, so the free market didn’t literally bite anyone on the nose, but I’m entitled to bloggers’ license.
The Department of Agriculture is looking for competition in the wrong place. The market for food is not completely competitive, because of numerous subsidies and regulations. If the department wanted to rectify this situation, it would need to get out of the way and let the market work, not hand out more money. When the government gives out grants, it picks winners and losers, which is what consumers do in a free market.
Like “sustainability,” “competition” is invoked as justification for favoring some producers over others. The grants won’t increase competition within the industry, but they will give some producers an advantage when they compete with others.