Friday, June 01, 2012

The Elephant in your Back Yard

Would you be surprised to discover an elephant in your back yard?  And what if, on discovering it, you learned it had been there for several years?

I imagine your reaction might be similar to what I felt after I finished reading a short publication I received a couple of days back entitled Hack Your Showerhead: Ten Ways to Get Big Government Out of Your Home.

What I found most amazing was the variety of ways in which government regulations affects us and our lives without our even being aware of it.  The unfortunate thing about this is that we often have a tendency to blame other the wrong people for the consequences of these regulations.

One of the ten ways that Jeffery Tucker, the author of this article, sees government regulations affecting us is in the shorter life that many --maybe most-- electric appliances have today, in comparison to the way they were a few years back.

I'm sure you've heard the complaint: "They just don't make [insert name of appliance] like they used to!" and then the complainant goes on to blame the greedy manufacturers for cutting down on the quality presumably in the interests of making more profit.

As Tucker sees it, these manufacturers are under the pressure of government pressures and regulations to implement a series of changes to their products, some of which actually make them perform worse than they did before without adding any material benefit to the end user.  So, in order to comply with the government presser so that they can stay in business, they are forced to substitute parts and materials that will meet the government requirements and yet will not increase the price beyond what their customers are prepared to pay.   All too often the consequence of this is to use cheaper parts which will wear out faster than the older ones.

Tucker explains what happened to air conditioners:
Manufacturers are permitted to make units that use only so much electrical power. They must choose among the features in which to allocate this energy ceiling. The lighter, “more efficient” parts tend to break more easily than they once did. This means that you have to replace the units more often than you did in the past. 
And that's just air conditioners.

Adding Tucker's article to my own observations over the years I have started to wonder how many of all the problems we face in the world today, ranging from wide spread diseases, to aberrant social psychopaths, to threats of depleted resources, to animals in danger of extinction, to hunger, to wars, etc. could be traced back to government interference, intervention or stimulation of some sort or the other, regardless of how well intentioned it may have been.

This suspicion is not because I believe that everybody in government has some evil intention to make the world into a living hell for us, but rather that people, both those who are in the government and those to look to the government to solve problems have too much faith in the ability of these people to find solutions.

The people in government are not superhuman before they go to work for the government, nor do they become endowed with any special abilities once they enter the government.  Why then, do we, and they believe that they can solve problems which supposedly couldn't be solved before the government became involved?

So if you discover you have an elephant which you don't want in your garden, do you then look around for another elephant to deal with it, or is it better to consider other alternatives such as finding a new place to plant your garden, start planting things which elephants don't like, or some more imaginative option?

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