When bureaucrats get bored

June 30, 2010

Boredom must be a real problem for bureaucrats, especially in the European Union. How else does one explain jackassery such as this?

EU to ban selling eggs by dozen

Shoppers will be banned from buying bread rolls or eggs priced by the dozen under new food labelling regulations proposed by the European parliament.

Under the draft legislation, to come into force as early as next year, the sale of groceries using the simple measurement of numbers will be replaced by an EU-wide system based on weight.

It would mean an end to packaging descriptions such as eggs by the dozen, four-packs of apples, six bread rolls or boxes of 12 fish fingers.

The Government appeared to have been caught out by the change, but yesterday Caroline Spelman, the environment secretary, signalled Britain would now step in to prevent the rule being enforced.

MEPs last week voted against an amendment to new food labelling regulations that would allow individual states to nominate products that can be sold by number rather than by weight.

Individual countries are currently allowed to specify exemptions but the new rules under discussion make no such provisions.

The changes would cost the food and retail industries millions of pounds as items would have to be individually weighed to ensure the accuracy of the label.

That last should read “…needlessly cost the food and retail industries millions of pounds…” Sure, standardization has some benefits, but how much will EU consumer benefit as compared to the expenses born by the companies (which they’ll pass on to consumers)? Is it really worth it?

And why even bother? What pressing Union-wide need was there for this rule? Doesn’t Brussels have anything better to do? Doesn’t the European Parliament care about this further micromanagement of daily life by a distant bureaucracy?

I think we know the answer to that.

PS. And America is on the same path.

(via Dan Mitchell)

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Evidence that big government hurts the economy

June 30, 2010

In this Center for Freedom and Prosperity video, Dan Mitchell provides graphic evidence that government growth beyond a certain point actually hurts a nation’s economic performance:

While Mitchell doesn’t explain why this is true (something he does in other videos), the reason seems clear: government spending is inherently wasteful as money is often diverted to sub-optimal, politically oriented  purposes (such as vanity airports and bridges to nowhere), and that money is not disciplined by market forces. In other words, national governments’ wasteful deployment of capital is not punished by those governments’ going out of business. Furthermore, this money is taken out of private hands and consequently is no longer available for productive uses such as investing, saving, and job creation.

That isn’t to say all government is bad. By providing open markets, the consistent rule of law, and a strong protection of property rights, government actually helps create the conditions for prosperity. Beyond that point, however, it becomes a parasite, sucking the lifeblood from its host, the private sector.

If Mitchell and other free-market economists are right (and I strongly suspect they are), then one of the best things the federal government could do would be to reduce federal spending from its current 40% of GDP to about 15-20 percent.  That, however, is something that will not happen under the Democrats, and I have to wonder if even a Republican government would have the courage to make the needed cuts, given all the political oxes that would have to be gored.

Probably not, until the national consensus itself changes. And that may not be as far off as you think.

(via International Liberty)