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I’ve just got to say this again

Lewis Grizzard once explained the reasons why dogs bark, one of which is that there’s another dog barking somewhere in the universe.  So I’m barking.

You don’t have to watch the news very long before you begin to suspect that the financial wizards in Washington may be a couple of lumens dimmer than they believe themselves to be.  How long do you have to attend an Ivy League school before you become convinced that the government can spend money world without end?

Look-a-here: The basic problem is that so many in our ruling class have never worked a job producing anything.  They have no basic understanding of a production economy.  If all you’ve ever done in your whole life is talk on the phone, write letters, go to meetings, thumb madly at a Blackberry and submit term papers, then the realities of a production economy are as unknown to you as the bottom of an ocean on a Jovian moon.

And there’s more to this than meets the eye.  Let’s back away from Washington and consider a local example.  Here in People’s Republic of Florida, you can’t much change the function of a room in your home without upgrading the space to current energy efficiency standards.  It’s the law.  And of course this law enormously jacks up the cost of even the simplest renovations.

So, if you’re a contractor contemplating your work load for the next year, how do you figure your customers will react to the new standards?  Will they mindlessly obey and pay whatever the cost is?  (Answer: no.)  Will they find innovative ways to sidestep the rules?  (Some will.)  Will they react to the increased cost by slowing down their work rate?  (Not practical.)  Will they flout the law by performing the work themselves in private?  (Bingo!)

With so much uncertainty, would you hire new workers for your contracting business?  Or would you occasionally hire day labor on an as-needed basis and wait while hoping for a change in government?  At the state level, conservatives in Florida have the best opportunity since (literally) the Civil War to effect real change in the size and reach of state government.  Are they doing it?  No, not a chance.  I am waiting to see them wholesale abolishing agencies, license requirements, rules and regulations.  If that happens, then you’ll know about it by the outcry from the Democrats followed quickly by the thunder of new industries stampeding to Florida to set up shop in freedom.

Until then, you can rest assured that not much will change.  Producers will continue to answer to bureaucratic overlords who have never held a real job and who have no clue but think they do.

The same thing is happening at the national level.  What is killing the American economy is not merely tax rates, but an atmosphere of endless regulatory threat.  And the regulatory threats as as unpredictable as they are insurmountable.  Any pointy head with rule-making authority can obliterate a business with the flick of his pen.  Works of marvelous destruction are presently underway in the coal industry, for example, and the ruin will fan out across the economy affecting electricity, transportation, and even the mom and pop diner on the corner.

Through personal circumstances, I’ve become aware of malicious rule-making working a powerfully destructive effect on adoptions of orphans.  Licensing requirements from the Hague are being imposed on adoption agencies, and some agencies simply do not have the cash to comply.  They will either go out of business, go into debt, or abandon efforts to place orphans from countries that require Hague certification.

It’s not just the taxes that are killing these businesses, but a pervasive malevolence that animates so much of government’s actions toward the private sector.  My impression is that much of this enmity streams from Ivy League power centers which regard America’s producing areas as what Doug Wilson calls “red state slopehead country.”  Just as damaging, many businesses are exploiting anti-freedom sentiment to get rules passed that ruin their competitors.  While we’re talking about taxes and budgets and debt limits, let’s remind our representatives that a regulation can be more costly to a business than a tax.  We need to fix that, and as I said previously, the next couple of months may possibly be the most decisive in American history, either for the cause of liberty or our gradual descent into regulatory tyranny.

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