Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Regulations, taxes block progress

Regulations, taxes block progress

(My Clovis News Journal column for December 7, 2012.)

Fraser Institute released its Economic Freedom of North America 2012 report, and New Mexico came in 50th among the American states.

That's bad news, but it's also an incredible and exciting opportunity, because it would be so simple to flip that ranking upside down.

Economic freedom is natural; it requires a lot of effort to stifle it. To destroy economic freedom requires "taxation", regulations, red tape, licenses, and fees. All those things amount to barriers which are erected between an idea and actually providing a product or service to people who might want it. All that would be needed to improve New Mexico's standing is the removal of some of those barriers.

You could even decide how high to lift New Mexico. If a slight improvement is good enough, just remove some of the economic barriers; if you want to rise to the top, get rid of them all. Your choice- the more barriers you insist on removing, the better off we all become.

This doesn't mean there would be no economic risk, or that every new business idea would succeed, but it would make it easier to try new things and allow more of those new things to succeed. The more new things that are tried, the more successes there will be. If you throw one dart, it is unlikely you will hit a bulls-eye, but if you throw a hundred darts, a bulls-eye is almost a sure thing. The state should not be rationing the darts.

Unfortunately, the state and many of its supporters are addicted to their favorite economic barriers.

The "left" wants barriers to ensure the fairy tale of "fairness".

The "right" wants barriers which enforce its notions of "goodness".

Both would be happy to eliminate the other side's favorite barriers, but will fight tooth and claw to hang on to its own barriers. And always propose more. The state is happy to oblige.

So here we are.

Solving this problem means taking power, position, and money away from politicians and bureaucrats. Be assured they will go into fear-monger mode to prevent that from happening. Don't fall for their lies.

America as a whole has slipped further down the index of world economic freedom; now at number eighteen. This is a tragedy that can be solved. New Mexico could lead the way, if we can just be bold enough to do it.

So, which is it? Are you more concerned about imposing barriers against others, or being a shining beacon, even though it means allowing others the same freedom?


Keep playing an unfair game

"That's not fair!"

Every time I hear those words I smile because I am reminded of Scott Adams' assertion that "fairness" isn't a feature of reality, but a concept invented so that stupid people could feel like they are participating in conversations.

Maybe that's true; maybe it isn't completely true.

However, "fair" does figure into playing games with agreed-upon rules.  When someone doesn't play by those rules you feel it isn't fair.  You can whine about it, you can keep trying to adapt to the "new" rules, you can "cheat" in your own way and hope to somehow win, or you can walk away.

Some people seem to think of The State as a kind of game.  They realize that the rules seem to only be applied in one direction- against individuals who are not a part of the government gang- but they still believe they should keep playing and try to win.  Or at least not lose.

What I don't get is that so many of those people think whining about the unfairness will change anything.  As long as you keep playing, what incentive is there for any change?  You'll keep playing, keep losing, and The State will keep teasing you with the promise of winning a little bit... someday.

When playing against someone who keeps changing the rules to benefit themselves, you are an idiot to not walk away.

Withdraw consent.