Government knows best

“It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.” — Thomas Sowell

Are you smart enough to make your own decisions or do you need the government to make decisions for you? Our governments – federal, state, and local – more and more think that you are not smart enough so they make decisions for you.

Imagine that you have lived in your house for 20 years. For you and your husband that house is perfect; you love it just the way it is. Then tragedy strikes and it burns down. Fortunately, you have insurance and you quickly decide to rebuild it precisely as before.

Then the government says “Nope, we won’t let you rebuild it as it was. Your ceilings were too low; you must raise the ceilings and roof.” No matter that you lived with those ceilings for umpteen years and they were just fine for you, government knows best and you’ll have to make the ceilings higher.

Later, the government tells you that you must install more outside faucets. Personally, I have never lived in a house that had more than two faucets outside. Most had just one. Now government says “We won’t let you live in your own house unless you have three outside faucets. Oh, and while you are at it make sure you have outside electrical outlets on three sides.”

You grumble and curse but you do what government decides is good for you, and finally your house is finished and ready for you to move in. “Not yet!” says the government, “Your water heater is 30 gallons; you should have at least a 40 gallon tank.” But you reply, “30 is plenty for us. That’s all we ever had.” Doesn’t matter, the inspector says. Someday you might sell the house and the next family might want a larger heater. Well, they can install a larger water heater, you reply. Finally you give in and replace the perfectly good water heater with a slightly larger one just to get the government off your back.

The above happened to a friend of mine. She is still seething that she and her husband do not have the right to choose what is right for themselves, that the government makes those choices for them.

Many government agencies treat citizens as if they are children incapable of making good decisions themselves. The Department of Energy (DOE) justified recent regulations on the basis that consumers needed to be protected from their own “irrational” choices. The DOE determined that 79% of the benefit of the new regulations was “correcting irrational consumer behavior” while only 3% of the benefits was reducing CO2 emissions.

Federal agents raided an Amish farm at 5 a.m. for the crime of selling raw milk to people who wanted to buy raw milk. I have never tried raw milk, but many say that it tastes better and is much healthier. If adults decide to drink it, should their decisions be blocked by armed federal regulators?

A Pennsylvania city spent $2 million renovating its ballpark. The teams were about to play, fans were about to enter the stadium when a government inspector refused to allow it to open because the “mirrors in the men’s room were a quarter-inch too low.” A speech in Congress complaining about such micro-regulating received a very rare standing ovation.

A magician was told that he needed a federal “animal exhibitor’s” license to display his one bunny rabbit. Later he was ordered to write a disaster plan to save the rabbit from “Fire. Flood. Tornado. Air conditioning going out. Ice storm. Power failures”, etc.

Some towns have regulations about how tall your grass can be. In Georgia, a “Code Compliance Officer” entered a woman’s house, located her bedroom, and woke her up to give her a ticket for her front lawn being too long. Lest you think that is urban legend, it is a true story and it indicates how full of self-importance some of these regulators are.

Around the country, kids selling lemonade or girl scout cookies on their own land suddenly find police officers telling them to cease and desist because they are violating some regulation. One enterprising teenager saved up his money to buy a hot dog stand. He and his parents thought they had followed all the regulations, obtained all necessary permits, but he was shut down for operating too close to a restaurant. It had nothing at all to do with safety, and everything to do with restaurant owners not wanting competition.

In some states only a licensed funeral director could sell a casket. It had nothing to do with safety – the casket sellers were not handling any bodies. The funeral directors wanted a monopoly so they could keep their prices high.

Should you have the right to choose an interior designer, floral arranger, or hair-braider or should government make that decision for you?

How about a compromise? Let the government issue all the licenses and regulations it thinks are good for you. But let them be advisory, not mandatory. If you trust only a licensed floral arranger then so be it. But if you choose to hire an unlicensed interior decorator or floral arranger let the government not interfere.

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