(Video) Pop Quiz: Can government run the economy?

August 8, 2016

Okay, it’s a trick question. The answer is “yes” and “no.” Yes, the government has the power to regulate almost all the economy (especially since the horrific Wickard v. Filburn case).

But it is also an emphatic “no,” because government rarely does a good job. In fact, government regulation often does more harm than good. A much better alternative is to let the economy run itself in a free market.

For Prager University, Steve Forbes explains why:

Now put down your pencils, close your exam books, and turn them in as you leave.

Class dismissed.


(Video) Lemonade Stand Economics: a basic lesson for progressives

July 22, 2016

When writing about the minimum wage or Obamacare, I’ve often made the point that, in the face of government-imposed higher costs, businesses have few choices:

  • Pass the cost on to the consumer by increasing prices
  • Reduce costs by cutting back on labor (reduced hours, automation, &c.)
  • Accept a smaller profit margin
  • Or just say “screw it all” and go out of business

The following video from Prager University makes a similar point, using that American icon, the kid’s lemonade stand, as an example:

Progressives take note. This is a lesson you need to learn.

By the way, those evil oil companies the Left likes to rail at? Their average profit margin is just above six percent. You know what industry has a larger profit margin? Law firms. They net on average a whopping 30 percent.

Maybe the government should regulate law firms? smiley thinking


Supreme Court puts Obama’s “climate saving” power plant regulations on hold

February 10, 2016

This is great news on several fronts, but especially for supporters of limited government and regulatory restraint (such as me), who’ve often viewed the EPA as an arrogant, tyrannical, and arguably unconstitutional agency.

Watts Up With That?

From the skeptics and common sense win one department…

Tanner Creek Power Station in Lawrenceburg, IN - closed in 2015 by new EPA regulations. Photo by A. Watts Tanner’s Creek Power Station in Lawrenceburg, IN – closed in 2015 by new EPA regulations. Photo by A. Watts

A divided Supreme Court on Tuesday abruptly halted President Obama’s controversial new power plant regulations, dealing a blow to the administration’s sweeping plan to address global warming.

In a 5-4 decision, the court halted enforcement of the plan until after legal challenges are resolved.

The surprising move is a victory for the coalition of 27 mostly Republican-led states and industry opponents that call the regulations “an unprecedented power grab.”

By temporarily freezing the rule the high court’s order signals that opponents have made a strong argument against the plan. A federal appeals court last month refused to put it on hold.

The court’s four liberal justices said they would have denied the request.

The plan aims to stave off the worst predicted…

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California loses another business, but at least we have a higher minimum wage

November 20, 2015
"But at least we won the election! Obama!!"

“But at least we raised the wage!”

It’s now widely regarded as legend and fable, but there once was a time when California created an almost unending wealth of jobs, leading to a good life and prosperity for her people.

Nowadays the progressives who run our state, enabled by their sheep-like voters who dominate the coast and the major urban areas, are doing all they can to run businesses (and jobs and prosperity) out of California, and California into the ground.

Just ask the owner of Woof & Poof:

One of the few things actually made in Chico may, sadly, no longer be made in Chico. Woof & Poof C.E.O. and owner Roger Hart said today, the company is having to cease production. Hart made the statement today at the annual warehouse sale.

Every year on the first Saturday of November a sale is held at the warehouse on Orange Street. Woof & Poof products include everything from stuffed collector dolls, blankets and door hangers to musical Santas for the holidays.

The unique, quality products are sold to more than 600 stores in the United States and Nordstrom’s. Woof & Poof has been in Chico for 40 years, but that’s about to end. Hart says a raise in minimum wage and workers compensation are just a couple of issues that have made it difficult to keep the business financially afloat here. Hart said, “The high cost of doing business in California coupled with ridiculous regulatory environment makes it virtually impossible to do business.” He says he has seen an 11% hike in payroll.

Time for another lesson in economics, kiddies:

Labor is a cost, because the business owner has to provide wages and, often, benefits that cost him more money. When a government mandate increases that cost, the business owner has three choices: pass the cost along to the customer, who may decide it’s too much and stop shopping there; cut employee hours and stop hiring to save on labor costs, thus costing potential jobs and putting a burden on workers still employed; and, finally, just decide it’s not worth it anymore and close up shop. In the low-margin bookseller business, Borderlands’ owner chose the last course as the only one viable.

Borderlands was a bookstore that closed in San Francisco after the owner could no longer afford the minimum wage. That was the owner’s choice, and now Roger Hart has decided to join him. I’ve no doubt there have been others, nor that there will be many more like him who choose the same.

Chico, for those who don’t know it, is a small city in the north part of the state, an area that, like the interior east and south, has been treated as an exploitable colony by our coastal progressive elites and the pols the force on us. The damage their policies of “economic, social, and environmental justice” have laid waste to farmland and small towns and cities up and down the state, far from the trendy restaurants of San Francisco or Hollywood, where I bet none of the 30 workers losing their jobs at Woof & Poof could afford to eat.

No wonder there are secession movements.

via @hipEchik on Facebook

PS: One of the burdensome regulations that caused Mr. Hart to throw up his hands? A state font mandate. You read that right. Because he had used the wrong size of font on pillow tags, an inspector threatened to seize his entire inventory. Instead, he had to spend a lot of money to make corrections.

I’m surprised he wasn’t required to cut down a tree with a herring, too.


Should Government Regulators Make the Internet More Like the Post Office or DMV?

February 15, 2015

I’ll take Option C, “neither.”

International Liberty

The Internet has made all of our lives better, in part because there’s been an accidental policy of benign neglect from Washington.

But that’s about to change.

Even though our economy already is burdened by record amounts of regulation and red tape, the FCC is pushing forward with a plan to turn the Internet into a moss-covered public utility.

This almost leaves me at a loss for words. It’s truly remarkable – in a bad way – that the bureaucrats at the Federal Communications Commission think that the Internet can be improved by a big dose of 1930s-era regulation and control.

My Cato colleague, Jim Harper, summarized the issue last month.

Do you want your Internet service provider to operate like the water company or the electric company?… the FCC has sought for years now to regulate broadband Internet service providers…like it used to regulate AT&T, with government…

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You have the right to drive while drunk, if it’s your job

September 1, 2011

And the US government will fight for you!

Feds to Trucking Company: You Cannot Fire Alcoholic Drivers

The federal government has sued a major trucking company for its firing of driver with an admitted alcohol abuse problem.

Alcoholism is classified as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the suit maintains, and therefore employees cannot be prohibited even from driving 18 wheelers due to their histories of abuse.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which filed the suit against the Old Dominion Freight Line trucking company on August 16, noted that while “an employer’s concern regarding safety on our highways is a legitimate issue, an employer can both ensure safety and comply with the ADA.”

Be sure to read the whole thing, and note that, while the company may not fire an alcoholic driver, it would still be liable for any damage or injury (or, God forbid, death) caused by the driver while hammered in a protected state of sobriety-deficiency. You can bet the company’s insurance agency has already sent them a notice of rate increase (if not outright cancellation) and that those increased costs will be passed along to Old Dominion’s customers, who will pass them along to their customers, until it reaches… us, the consumers.

But none of that matters to the EEOC, which will sue until you cry “uncle” to protect the God-given rights of rummies to drive 18-wheelers on the public highway.

Is it any wonder that the federal government comes in dead-last in a popularity survey?

via Zombie at PJM

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Lemonade stands! My God, they’re everywhere!!!

August 3, 2011

The news is grim, friends. I thought we had the threat contained to the Eastern seaboard (with that one tragic outbreak in Oregon), but it’s spread all the way to the heartland of America: a four-year old girl was operating a lemonade stand in Iowa… brace yourselves… without a license!

The horror:

Police closed down a lemonade stand in Coralville last week, telling its 4-year-old operator and her dad that she didn’t have a permit.

An officer told Abigail Krutsinger’s father Friday that she couldn’t run the stand as RAGBRAI bicyclers poured into Coralville.

I mean, think what would have happened if the police hadn’t been there to shut down this rogue preschooler’s citrusy speakeasy? No business permit? The city wouldn’t get its cut! The consequences of no health inspection? Are you willing to risk an outbreak of cooties??

Whew! That was close!

Thank God the regulatory state that our dedicated public servants bureaucratic betters were on the job.

PS: Have you noticed that all these accused lemonade bootleggers have been girls? I smell a conspiracy…

PPS: Iowa, eh? I wonder where the candidates stand on the Lemonade Menace? Romney probably has his finger in the wind even now.

LINKS: Prior posts in the War Against Lemonade Stands. E.D. Kain at Forbes has noticed the war, too, and brings the news that August 20th is National Lemonade Freedom Day.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


California Screamin’: cartoon version

April 22, 2011

California’s history and California’s present:

via Ed Driscoll, who provides some depressing context for the future.


Because, you know, secret ballots are bad things

January 16, 2011

From the Department of Government Stupidity: the federal government has threatened to sue four states should they dare to guarantee secret ballots in union elections:

The National Labor Relations Board on Friday threatened to sue Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah over constitutional amendments guaranteeing workers the right to a secret ballot in union elections.

The agency’s acting general counsel, Lafe Solomon, said the amendments conflict with federal law, which gives employers the option of recognizing a union if a majority of workers sign cards that support unionizing.

The amendments, approved Nov. 2, have taken effect in South Dakota and Utah, and will do so soon in Arizona and South Carolina.

Business and anti-union groups sought the amendments, arguing that such secrecy is necessary to protect workers against union intimidation. They are concerned that Congress might enact legislation requiring employers to allow the “card check” process for forming unions instead of secret ballot elections.

In letters to the attorney general of each state, Solomon says the amendments are pre-empted by the supremacy clause of the Constitution because they conflict with employee rights laid out in the National Labor Relations Act. That clause says that when state and federal laws are at odds, federal law prevails.

Solomon is asking the attorneys general in South Dakota and Utah for official statements agreeing that their amendments are unconstitutional “to conserve state and federal resources.”

In other words, “play along and we won’t bankrupt you in court.”

I’m no expert in the Supremacy Clause, but labor relations have traditionally fallen under a state’s police powers, though that’s been eroded over at least the last 80 years, since the New Deal, as the Fed has claimed a greater role.

But, really, does anyone seriously think this is anything other than an attempt force card-check through via regulation, instead of legislation, where it’s dead in the water? This is another case of arrogance on the part of unelected bureaucrats against the elected representatives of the peoples of four states, and I hope these states fight it tooth-and-nail.


The regulatory dictatorship

November 20, 2010

Back when I took Civics (and back when they still taught it), I was told that the role of making laws was assigned to the legislatures, as their members were democratically elected by the people. In fact, Article I, Section 1 of the US Constitution states:

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Near as I can recall, “all” means “every darned bit of it,” including the authority to rewrite laws.

So where does the Environmental Protection Agency get off rewriting the Clean Air Act to include things never intended, such as carbon dioxide emissions from stationary sources?

This video from Energy Tomorrow talks about this and other examples of EPA’s regulatory power grab. Did you know EPA is proposing ozone standards so stringent that even Yellowstone National Park can’t meet them? Watch, there’s more:

Be sure to read my Twitter-buddy Jazz Shaw’s post on this for other examples of how our EPA is turning into Leviathan, and a link to a paper by Energy Tomorrow that provides an extensive list of EPA’s questionable activities.

You might recall the Left screaming about how the Bush Administration was “politicizing science.” Perhaps, but I suspect it is much worse under the Obama administration. The Progressive Left sees the environmental laws as a way to take control of the economy via regulation, well-beyond the laudable goal of protecting the environment. And we shouldn’t be surprised that this new regulatory imperialism has taken place after Obama came to office; his “Climate Czar,” Carole Browner, is a former EPA chief and was at least closely affiliated with, if not a member of, the Socialist International.

What an odd coincidence.

In any event, EPA’s “reimagining” of its authorizing laws are clearly unconstitutional and the agency needs to be reined in. The new Republican majority will have a lot on its plate when the 112th Congress convenes next year, but, given the damage these new initiatives can do both to the economy and our constitutional order, they should make holding the agency accountable a priority.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)