On average the “hoarder” is simply the one for whom the future is uncertain. Material goods (not virtue) are by nature finite and so scarce. Are there cases of hoarding purely out of greed? I suppose. But the evaporation of the medium of exchange (money) is much more naturally explained as a response to uncertainty about the future.
Enter corona-virus policy of turning off, by edict, producing, consuming and trading. There are certainly more subtle ways in which activist governments have increased fear and made the future more uncertain. A prior president decided to force the purchase of health insurance by edict. This president and more local governors have decided to ban production and consumption. The latter of course cannot be banned without killing the living being. But what is obvious is that the latter depends upon the former. Anyone who thinks otherwise is absolutely courting disaster.
What is the natural (descriptively and not normatively measured) response to activist governments beginning to tinker with turning livelihoods off and on by edict? Well, the descriptive answer depends on local conditions. I surmise two logical types with most individuals being some combination of the two. The more properly natural response, hoarding, will put further pressure on production (hoarders don’t spend on consumption, they try to preserve the possibility of future consumption). A lack of consumption will negate the profitability (worth-whileness) of production. But we have played this game before. Except now it is worse.
The activist government who is causing the downward pressure on production has also be edict demanded that there are price floors and price ceilings for its arbitrarily chosen whims. Thus labor has a price floor. Just think of it. The value of the labor that goes into production decreases but the price companies are required to pay for that labor are fixed! So, companies will be forced to lay off. On top of that the activist government has demanded that companies pay to support the unemployed. So the cost of the activist government’s edicts will be born first by the company owner whose production is diminished, then by the company owner who is forced to support those at reduced government unemployment who he cannot afford to keep on.
If only the company could reduce wages to adjust with the reduction in production that is the product of the reduction in consumption that is naturally stimulated by government edict and threats of punishment for consuming. Then, with wages lowered to meet the decreased price of goods set to attract consumption the employer could continue and even keep more employed at the reduced rate. But as it is, the price of goods decreases, the number of employed decreases, but the wage of those who remain employed increases to the degree that it is stable while prices for goods fluctuate.
What of the other response? What is the alternative to hoarding when the those who have the monopoly on force and coercion decide to arbitrarily shut off production and consumption? It is to immediately go back to consuming with no regard for the precedent and how it might alter the possibility of future consumption. I will let my reader explore savings rates prior to the corona-virus pandemic. Savings as a primary case of self-restraint and the requirement that one consume less than one produces (this is another version of profit you “evil saving capitalist. How dare you hold and store away for the future) was woefully low in the United States as it was. Almost have of American citizens payed no federal taxes. Some large percentage of Americans approaching retirement have nothing to give their 60 year old, 70 year old or 80 year old selves. What if a large portion of Americans either dependent already on the government for consumption or hopped up on pot or opioids that shield them from the reality of their situation just jump back into la-la land and continue on as usual?
I will take the hoarder over the delusive consumer. The hoarder at least is sensitive to the instability and insecurity in the future that is artificially created by government edict. The hoarder at least is behaving the way any other living being would. The tree for whom water dries up in one area will shift its root in the direction of on-average greater moisture. The feral pig for whom hunting pressure becomes too great will eventually seek more secure ground. The hoarder, like the other living beings, responds to lack with self-restraint.
It will be interesting to see how the post-pandemic economic activity progresses. I am not forecasting apocalypse. Businesses are sucking at the tit of government bailout as much as the impoverished are sucking at the tit of government welfare. And it is all on the back of production. If nothing is produced there is nothing to support the suffering with whether business or individual. I am interested in what the response of the productive is to being burdened by the forced edicts of those who have a monopoly on the use of violence.
Production (always the result of freedom and effort) is not a given. Because freedom and effort are mixed with and instantiated in animal they are influenced by the animal concern. The animal concern is not evil, not sinful, not unnatural. It is what it is. And, as the animal becomes hemmed in such that its production and trade are made more and more restricted and burdened it will seek alternative environments.
The one consolation? There are many other countries in the world burdening production more than the United States. When you are getting worse but still better than most there will be a continued benefit coming from the worse to the better.