Friday, April 21, 2017

Hocus Pocus versus Focus

Government by edict and wishful thinking yields little

For the song Hocus Pocus by Focus go here

For the life of me I can't find the Financial Times column I cited a few years ago where the author suggested that the debate on smaller versus bigger government is all wrong: the debate should be on focused government and what specific tasks it does. It's a really good column. Also good is Tyler Cowen's Bloomberg View column where he argues that the focus on inequality is counterproductive and possibly "increases political polarization, which lowers the chance of effective action".

And as Gillian Tett writes in today's Financial Times, Secretary of Commerce Wilber Ross "is creating plans to roll back many of the estimated 7,000-odd regulations imposed during the Obama years". But which ones and to what effect?

Regardless of where you are on the political spectrum, general talk of the ills of inequality or the evils of regulation is just noise. Talk to me about treating income from labor and capital equally and I'm all ears. Talk to me about removing regulatory barriers to employment and competition and we'll get along fine.

Regulations – at their best – define the rules of the road. If we are a nation of laws then regulations are needed too. Yes – there are bad and poorly designed/enacted/implemented/enforced regulations just as there are bad and poorly designed/enacted/implemented/enforced laws. But to stack all regulation on the pyre and throw on the torch is just witch burning.

In Virginia we have vehicle safety inspections that don't result in safety; we have occupational licenses for professional wrestlers; we have Certificate of Public Need laws that prevent communities from getting healthcare facilities.

Waving a wand and wishing this were different doesn't effect change. Hard work and focus can.