Down in Concord

“Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.” — Pericles (430 B.C.)

Down in Concord it is another quiet week. There are 47 bills with public hearings in the House or in the Senate. Most probably are not interesting to most people. I found four that are mildly interesting.

On Tuesday morning, the Senate has public hearings on two firearms bills. HB 135 restricts your right to defend yourself, your family, and your community. It says that if someone attacks you with deadly force, you may not use deadly force to defend yourself, if you can run away. So if you or your daughter is a young nurse walking through a dark parking lot, and a would-be rapist pulls out a knife, you should try to run away instead of pulling out your pistol. I expect a large crowd to oppose the bill.

The second firearms bill is HB 388, which says that if a thief steals a weapon from your house, you are not responsible for any damage the bad guy does with your weapon. That bill passed with a strong bipartisan vote in the House. The crowd on hand to oppose HB 135 probably will stay to support HB 388

Wednesday the Senate hears HB 595, which would repeal changes to photo identification requirements of voters that was passed just last year. By wide margins, voters approve of the requirement for a photo ID, so there might be a good crowd opposing this repeal bill.

Thursday the House Fish&Game committee will hold a public hearing on SB 122, establishing a commercial shrimp license. We have survived all these many years without needing a shrimp license. Thursday we will learn why some people think we really need yet another license.

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Some time ago a friend asked why I spend time on politics. Well, the fact is that politicians can have an enormous impact on our well-being. It’s not so much that they can do good but that they can do great harm. As Walter Williams puts it, “In general, presidents and congressmen have very limited power to do good for the economy and awesome power to do bad. The best good thing that politicians can do for the economy is to stop doing bad. In part, this can be achieved through reducing taxes and economic regulation, and staying out of our lives.”

A report from the government’s Small Business Administration estimates that the cost of federal regulations is $1.75 trillion. That works out to about $15,000 per family. Are you getting your money’s worth?

It wasn’t regulations that made us the greatest country on earth. It was freedom – the freedom for ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers, and Steve Jobs created entire industries that provided good jobs for tens of millions of people.

Today there are so many regulations that FedEx could not get off the groundSubway RestaurantsHome Depot, Whole Foods, and Wynn casinos might not exist at all if they had started in today’s regulatory environment.

Together these companies have over 800,000 employees. How much worse would our economy be without those jobs? without the goods and services they produce? How many of tomorrow’s giant companies are being killed today by excessive regulations?

An old American adage declares that “To err is human, but it takes a politician to really screw things up.” They certainly have screwed things up. The latest jobs report was just one more example. Almost half a million people gave up looking for a job. The labor force participation rate is the lowest since 1979.

Poverty is the worst since the mid-1960s. The number of people collecting food stamps is at record high levels. Median family income is down for four straight years.

The current so-called recovery is the worst in 70 years. Per capita income and employment are lower than they were at the start of the recession. If this economy had been merely average, we would now have a GDP per person more than $4500 higher and we would see more than 14 million more people employed.

Why do I spend time on politics? Because it matters. Bad economic policies produce the conditions we now suffer. Good policies produce growing economies.

Canada’s conservative government adopted principles of lower taxes, smaller government, and more decentralization of federal government powers. For the first time in history, the average Canadian is wealthier than the average American.

There is one set of economic policies that has worked every time it has been tried. Year after year, around the world, among the fifty states, one simple policy has produced greater prosperity, better life expectancy, a cleaner environment, and more human rights.

That policy is economic freedom.

That is not just theory or ideology; that is history. Nearly 20 years of analyzing 183 countries has consistently shown that more freedom produces higher per capita income, longer lifespans, and more “happiness”.

Sadly, the United States’ rank in the Index  of Economic Freedom has dropped every year since 2006. We have fallen from “Free” to “Mostly Free”.

For a better economy, we need to elect politicians who support property rights, limited government, less regulating, and free markets. It works every time it is tried.

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