Tag Archives: Regulation

Government Can Make It All Better

I generally resent the idea that the government can do things better.  In many, if not most things, the government does them worse, not at all better, than if left to someone else to do.

However, in some cases it’s even worse.  The government does it worse than if it were just left alone:

Tree sections are stacked floor to ceiling. They’re like rounds chopped from a carrot, the carrot being a tree trunk. They’re the size of dinner plates. When the football team scores, they rattle on their shelves.

Growth rings tell how old the sectioned tree was. But when Swetnam holds up one, he points to something else: fire scars. They’re black marks, about the size of a fingernail clipping, left by fires.

“The first time here, back in the 1600s, it looks like, and it created a wound there. Basically the fire was hot enough to burn through the bark,” he says. But the fire wasn’t hot enough to kill the tree. So the next few rings show normal growth.

“Until the next fire occurs, and it creates another scar,” he says. “And another, and another, and another, and another, and another.”

Scars from thousands of sections show how often fires burned in the Southwest. It was every five or 10 years, mostly — small fires that consumed grass and shrubs and small seedlings, but left the big Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir just fine. This was the norm.

Then something happened.

“Around 1890 or 1900, it stops,” Swetnam says. “We call it the Smokey Bear effect.”

Settlers brought livestock that ate the grass, so fires had little fuel. Then when the U.S. Forest Service was formed, its marching orders were “no fires.”

And it was the experts who approved the all-out ban on fires in the Southwest. They got it wrong.

That’s the view of fire historian Stephen Pyne.

“The irony here is that the argument for setting these areas aside as national forests and parks was, to a large extent, to protect them from fire,” Pyne says. “Instead, over time they became the major habitat for free-burning fire.”

So instead of a few dozen trees per acre, the Southwestern mountains of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah are now choked with trees of all sizes, and grass and shrubs. Essentially, it’s fuel.

And now fires are burning bigger and hotter. They’re not just damaging forests — they’re wiping them out. Last year, more than 74,000 wildfires burned over 8.7 million acres in the U.S.

That included the huge Wallow fire in Arizona.

“It burned more than 40,000 acres in the first eight hours,” says Swetnam, the tree ring expert. “A tornado of fire.”

Fires in the Southwest have been getting bigger and bigger over the past two decades.

“Now the fire behaviors are just off the charts,” Swetnam says. “I mean, they are extraordinary. Actually, I think in some cases, they’re fire behavior that probably these forests haven’t seen in millennia or maybe even tens of thousands of years.”

Over the past several years, even as fewer fires have struck the Southwest, they’ve burned more land. The U.S. Forest Service now spends about half its budget on firefighting.


Romney: I know Why Jobs Come And Why They Go

Without a doubt the main focus on the election so far has been the economy and the lack of jobs.  On one hand you have Romney claiming that he knows how business works, how the economy works.  On the other hand, you have Obama claiming that Romney simply guts American jobs while making himself wealthy.

I think it’s important to note that Obama never runs any ads claiming that HE knows how to grow jobs.

Anyway, I was going through some Obama commercials and found this one:

The point of the ad is that Romney took companies here in America and sent their jobs to other countries, countries like China and India.  The impression being that Romney doesn’t grow jobs, rather, he outsources American jobs.

It’s effective ’till you think it through, which I grant you, isn’t likely to happen considering the American electorate.

Romney claims, “I know how business works.  I know why jobs come and why they go.”  That claim is entirely truthful as it relates to his owning Bain, his restructuring companies and his sending jobs overseas.  When businessmen look at the state of the company before them, one of the things they look at is labor.  And they make a value based decision on where that labor might be better obtained.  Many many things are considered; ease of transition, cost of shipping, risk of client dissatisfaction due to hard accents, time zone difficulties and education of labor force.  And yes, included in that calculation is the tax and wage burden of the companies.

Romney knows why he sent those jobs overseas.  Because regulations and restrictions here in America make it more expensive than it has to be.  Moving work to another country is a painful and difficult decision to come by.  Making that transition is very difficult.  But no one does it because they WANT to.  They do it because business demands it.

Romney doesn’t say that he’s going to outsource jobs.  Not at all.  What he says is that he knows why people do it.  And that he’s going to change those reasons and incent businesses to keep labor here.

And THAT is something that Obama hasn’t clue one about.

Free Market Or Call For Government Regulation

I’m a big believer in the market.  And by the market I mean that place or condition where people are allowed to trade their labor and property for another’s.

I’m a BIG believer in this.

Often times when discussing things politic with friends in person or friends on-line, I ask, or wonder, “Where might you be wrong?”  So, at times, I turn this around and ask myself the same question:

Where might I be wrong?

And I think that where I might be stretching ideology into fact is the level at which a government might reasonably impose regulations.

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Wherein The Economist Channels Pino

If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times, if you wanna sell more beer, lower the price.  The same concept exists for labor.  If you want people to buy more labor, lower the price of labor.

But even as we face unprecedented levels of unemployment, there are people in the world that wanna make it harder for people to hire people.  They suggest that the real value of the current minimum wage is low and that we should consider raising it match past level.

I don’t understand how pricing low margin workers out of the job market right now makes sense.  And the Economist agrees with me.

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The Limits Of Government Power

In the last 6 years, the government has done stuff that leaves me wondering if there is a  limit to what it can do.

For example, we see bills such as the Patriot Act passed into law that really push the limits on government intrusion.  If they can do “that”, what can’t they do?

Then there were the wars in foreign nations.  If we can just do “that”, is there any thing that we can’t do?

Then TARP, TARP II and the bailout of the car companies.

All of which leads us to Obamacare and the preventative care mandate.

What can’t they do?

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Government Mandates

For those of us who support the government intervening in the insurance market only to make things more expensive to make things better for everyone, I have a question:

If you support the government forcing Americans to buy insurance AND you support the government forcing insurance companies to offer free birth control, why don’t you support the government requiring people to purchase fresh fruit AND support the government forcing insurance companies to offer free broccoli?

How Regulations Cause Uncertainty and Slow Job Growth

There’s been a lot of back and forth between pro-nanny state folks and pro-market folks concerning the impacts of either policy on job growth.  On one hand there is the argument that the uncertainty of regulations causes a pause in investment.  The case being that businesses are unable to predict the return of their investment due to unknown costs in the environment.

I have suggested in the past that this is akin to playing blackjack.  Consider the game as we know it.  A dealt 21 is a winner at 150% of the wager.  Dealer has to hit up to 16 and wins on a tie.

Further consider a table of players.  Upon being told that the rules might change mid “shoe”, that the changes to the rules are not yet finalized and that once you commit to playing, you can’t back out, do you think the players would play more, play less or play the same?

I suggest that the players would “hold onto their capital” until they knew the rules, and then, based on the new value proposition, would play at a level that reflects the advantage to the house; less play if the rules benefit the house, more play if those rules benefit the player.

Why we would expect business to react differently isn’t rational.  And, as it turns out, is exactly what we are seeing:  Hat Tip Carpe Diem

Because we don’t know what our health-care expenses will be in two or three years, we are unable to determine with any certainty how much our investments will have to return for us to be profitable. All of that counsels in favor of holding off on new investments and saving our funds. We want to grow. But we are unable to do so knowing that large and undetermined liabilities will absorb funds we otherwise would invest for expansion.

It is simply not reasonable to suspect that people or organizations will invest at the same level when the risks are unknown.

Nanny Statism

The desire to protect the citizens drives crazy results.  People, intending to “do the right thing” and “protect” the people, get so caught up in that role they never stop and consider the absurdity of what it is they are doing.  The never ending desire to prevent harm is a constricting burden when placed within the hands of those who fail to understand that man is largely able to craft positive outcomes for himself.

And so it is that government has created a condition such that we are unable to hand our free hot dogs to free people:

Tin Cup’s bar and restaurant in St. Paul’s North End will pay a $500 fine to the city for grilling hot dogs outside on Oct. 2 without an event permit.

Co-owner Gidget Bailey appeared before the city council Wednesday to explain that she inquired with a state agency before cooking the hot dogs, which were given away inside the bar at 1220 Rice St. and not sold or consumed outside.

“I did call the Minnesota Department of Health asking if there was anything I needed to do,” Bailey said. “They told me no.”

The city’s Department of Safety and Inspections cited them for not obtaining a “temporary extension of service area” license for the outdoor event, which led to several calls to the District 6 Planning Council. The planning council then informed DSI of the event.

Council Member Lee Helgen reminded the bar owners that they should have known to check with the city.

The council vote to impose the fine was unanimous.

Note one member of the government body felt that the regulations describing the proper offering of hot dogs was so onerous as to prevent the levying of the fine.


Free Market Fail

The market isn’t perfect.  It’s a system kinda predicated on failures.  As capital in the hands of the incompetent isn’t used to it’s potential, that capital will flow to it’s best use.

However, some of the failures are mind boggling.

ANDERSLOV, Sweden — Several blond residents of a southern Swedish town were left with green hair after an unusual reaction between the water supply and the shower system of a number of new homes.

Authorities began investigating when a number of inhabitants of Anderslov complained that their hair suddenly turned green, Swedish newspaper Skanskan reported.

They tested the water supply in several homes to see if there was a high level of copper — known to turn hair green — but recorded only normal levels of the metal.

However, when hot water was left in the houses’ water systems overnight, the amount of copper in it was found to increase to five or 10 times the normal amount.

Investigators concluded that the hot water must have peeled copper from the pipes and water heaters. The copper then was absorbed into the water, causing the shock hair color change when residents showered.

The problem was found to be worst in new homes, where pipes lacked coatings.

Now, we can get into the benefits of state mandated housing regulations or private managed regulating agencies.  Either way, the solution to the copper in the water problem can’t be this:

Residents were told wash their hair in cold water or live in an older house to avoid the problem.

Government Schools

I agree that children need to be educated.  I further agree that we need to tax the general public to pay for this education.

What I can’t understand is why the government feels that only the government is qualified to teach kids.

Why is that?