This headline is from a few weeks back. I quite literally spit coffee out my nose when I read it:
Basically, the article asserts that the jobs which are created as a result of government regulation (since other industries and administrators are needed to deal with the new regs) will basically offset the loss in productivity. Eventually, the author admitted (at the very end of the article, natch….) that the underlying data supporting his premise is “not a precise science”. But insinuating that more regulation is basically a ‘wash’, economically, is pure sophistry.
Consider this corollary: a tornado tears through your town. To deal with the clean-up, there can be no argument that some industries will thrive during this time: builders and contractors, hotels, suppliers, etc.,.. will all see a spike in business while the repairs are ongoing. Does anyone really think that the tornado’s damage is a net gain to the economy? If that were true, we should stop trying to prevent disasters and try to create ’em, in as many municipalities as possible: floods, fires, the works. Boy-oh-boy, our economy would be rockin‘ then, for sure!
Government regs are much like that tornado. Dealing with it may benefit some, but few would argue as to its overall benefit.
Overregulation is a vitally important topic to keep in mind as the Republican primary season winds down and the general election season approaches. The current administration has stacked rule upon rule onto the backs of businesses, with the overall effect being huge amounts of time and money spent trying to deal with them. That same time and money then drains precious resources away from productivity, and the additional costs are reflected in higher net prices for the goods and services they provide. That is not neutral: it’s a loss, for everyone.
Mitt Romney is not my first (or even second) choice for our current President’s opponent. However, he will be head-and-shoulders better than the man once described as our “smartest president ever”. The fact that Romney included one of my favorite quotes in a speech last month was a good sign:
Milton Friedman used to tell a story about a trip he took to Asia in the 1960s. Some government officials there asked him to visit the site of a massive public works project. When he got there, he saw thousands of workers trying to build a canal with shovels.
Milton turned to one of the officials and asked him why there were so few machines. The bureaucrat said, “You don’t understand. This is a jobs program.”
Milton replied, “Oh, I thought you were trying to build a canal. If it’s jobs you want, then you should give these workers spoons, not shovels.”
Government regulation is not unnecessary. It prevents anarchy and provides the basic parameters for a civilized society. But just as too many rules would make the most exciting football game stilted and boring, too much government is burdensome and artificially stagnates the economy.
We don’t need to work with spoons in order to create more jobs. We need our freedom: freedom to work, to risk, to strive and yes, even freedom to fail.
Whadda ya think: “Freedom To Fail” as a bumper sticker?
Okay, …..maybe not.