Tuesday, July 2, 2013

But it creates jobs....

I got into an interesting conversation at the bar with an electrical contractor while I was celebrating my birthday last night.  (52nd birthday, BTW.) 

We were talking about building inspectors, corrupt building inspectors, and the people that most regulations are written to benefit.  (Hint:  It ain't you.)

The guy was obviously a skilled electrician.  Plenty smart.  But then he let loose with this statement:  At least all those rules and regulations create jobs and help the economy. 

I couldn't help myself.  Like I said, I was celebrating my birthday with plenty of Jim Beam and wasn't capable of self-censorship.  I remembered the Milton Friedman "spoons" story.
The story goes that Milton Friedman was once taken to see a massive government project somewhere in Asia. Thousands of workers using shovels were building a canal. Friedman was puzzled. Why weren’t there any excavators or any mechanized earth-moving equipment? A government official explained that using shovels created more jobs. Friedman’s response: “Then why not use spoons instead of shovels?”

So I said "If the goal is to create jobs and help the economy, why not use lanterns instead of electricity?"  I don't remember his response, if there was one. 

Here's something I found on the Forbes website while I was looking for the "spoons" story. 
Economies prosper when multitudes of ordinary people are motivated to make improvements. This is because information and insights needed to make an economy prosper are widely dispersed. There’s far more than could ever be centralized, validated and updated in a place like the federal government. The most reliable way to motivate people? Harness their self-interest: let them try making a profit by starting a business based on their information and insights. Government can best promote prosperity by, among other things, maintaining equal rights, low taxes, free trade, sound money, predictable laws and protection against force and fraud. Government should let consumers render their verdicts in open markets – no subsidies, special favors or bailouts.

Creating artificial hurdles, and then paying government bureaucrats to monitor the hurdles, does not help an economy.  It's all about production, baby !! 

I had to get that out of my system.  Have a good day, and be thankful for the electrical contractors who bring power to your laptop/phone/ipad/ipod/Blackberry reading device IN SPITE OF the electrical code, and not because of it. 

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