May 25 2010


Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 4:21 pm

Oops, I just discovered that I inadvertently published a post too soon, that was meant for two days from now, because it’s part two of what I am posting tomorrow.  So I just pulled it, but, no worries, if you’re really missing it, it will be back in two days, in the proper order.

Of course, by then it may be obsolete, since it’s about the BP oil spill, and rumor has it they may be trying to cap it tomorrow…  but somehow I’m not worried.

May 25 2010

Something the feds can’t do?

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 8:46 am

At last, the Obama administration admits there is something beyond the competence of the federal government.

It can run one of the largest auto manufacturing companies in the world, it can take over US healthcare, it can slow the rise of the seas (well, so Obama claimed, anyway), it can micromanage countless aspects of industries and businesses, large and small, it can dictate all manner of educational policies and mandates, but the  Government can’t push BP aside on the Gulf oil spill

The Obama administration’s point man on the oil spill rejected the notion of removing BP and taking over the crisis Monday, saying the government has neither the company’s expertise nor its deep-sea equipment.”To push BP out of the way, it would raise the question, to replace them with what?” Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen, who is heading the federal response to the spill, said at a White House briefing.

The White House is facing increasing questions about why the government can’t assert more control over the handling of the catastrophe, which unfolded after a BP offshore drilling rig blew up April 20.

The thing is, the federal government doesn’t know any more about running the nation’s healthcare system, or making GM productive and profitable, or stopping “global warming,” or “managing environmental issues,” or improving education, or growing the economy by dint of positive government action, than it does about capping undersea oil wells, which is a fairly straightforward problem by comparison.  It has had to bow to expertise in private hands, expertise that it does not possess.

It’s a pity that Obama doesn’t have the same accurate self-regard with respect to these other issues, which are simply beyond the sphere of the federal government in general, and Obama and his cronies in particular.  They are truly in over their heads.  They seem to think they can tread water and swim to the shallow end and just touch bottom….  but I think perhaps the water Obama is in is deeper than the uncapped BP oil well in the Gulf.

Don’t get me wrong.  I know there are many smart people in government.  I’m even willing to admit that Obama hired some of them, though presumably only those committed to his ideology, naturally.  The problem is that no one is smart enough, and no one knows enough, nor does any group know enough (not that “groups” know anything, as groups, since they rarely manifest the wisdom of their wisest members) to manage in detail something like the economy, or the health-care system, which simply depend on too many people making too many decisions for too many reasons for anyone to definitively grasp, or quantitatively manipulate, without creating great problems.  Read Hayek, and understand that his argument isn’t just that governments shouldn’t try to manage the economy as much as it is that they can’t, and therefore governments produce effects that are worse than the problems they’re trying to solve, when they try to create particular outcomes.  When they fail, as they inevitably do, they create even greater problems, and frequently greater evil, in trying to make things come out a certain way, anyway.

It isn’t long before governments start to pretend that things have turned out as they planned (the “war on poverty” has really worked out well, hasn’t it?), and then they do even more evil.  Or, sometimes worse, they double down on failed policies, and do even more damage.

When “everyone has healthcare,” who will be responsible for the deaths that occur due to rationing, shortages, and waits, not to mention research that doesn’t happen because the profit incentive is removed?  No one…  because everyone will “have” access to healthcare.  If they live so long.  That is exactly the situation in many nations with some form of nationalized healthcare.  And there is even less chance of getting it right when government is trying to manage the entire economy, not “just” healthcare.

Only the broadest kinds of decisions are appropriate for government in areas like this, not the micro-managing of specific rules, regulations and policies that typically issue forth from Washington, D.C.

The most important thing the feds can do is simply enforce contracts, general rule of constitutional law, and encourage open markets.  But there is always some interest group or other, buying and selling influence, and so it goes, since too many legislators, bureaucrats, and presidents are essentially for sale, though the coin isn’t always money, of course.  Somebody is always willing to distort the system and the process to produce a particular outcome, and even when they mean well, it’s often disastrous, such as the 2008 housing debacle, which flowed from years of trying to pretend that the laws of economics don’t exist.

So it’s refreshing when the government admits it has no idea how to cap an oil leak.  Sadly, it seems to have no desire whatsoever to cap the federal money leak, and that’s going to do more than kill some birds, fish, and seaweed, or disrupt some vacations.