There's a reason we use prices to ration things you know

The intricacies of how supply, demand and prices interact seem to be a mystery to all too many people. Unfortunately, those who are so flummoxed appear to include large numbers of those who have the statutory right to reach into our wallets:

Introduction of 30 hours free childcare could mean shortage of places

Well, yes, thanks to The Guardian for that headline. We'd go so far as to insist that when something formerly paid for becomes "free", free at the point of use at least, then demand is really very likely to outstrip supply.

Because, you know, that balancing act performed by prices.

From September, three- and four-year-olds in England will be entitled to 30 free hours of care per week in term time - up from the current 15 hours.

But a poll of local authorities by the Family and Childcare Trust found uncertainty about impact of the policy.

The government says quality, affordable childcare is central to its agenda.

The survey was sent to all 152 local authorities in England, and 112 of them responded.

Of the 112, over half (54%) said they did not know if they would have enough childcare available for pre-schoolers using the 30 hours.

A third (33%) said that there would be sufficient places, while a further 13% said there would not be enough.

This is of course not free nor any reasonable simulacrum of it. Someone, somewhere, is going to have to pay for those places and that care. And doing so through the taxation system rather than the price one is the wrong way to go about it.

What we would actually like to happen is that those who can earn more by going to work rather than caring for their own children - and wish to, of course - do so. And those who earn less than the cost of child care don't. Hiding that decision from the price system is therefore the wrong thing to be doing.

It's actually making us poorer which isn't the point of government nor policy at all.