Free Markets, Free People
And if you need an example of why you should always rely on government to get it right, well, just consider the latest concerning the mandated use of
food ethanol for fuel:
The AAA says the Environmental Protection Agency and gasoline retailers should halt the sale of E15, a new ethanol blend that could damage millions of vehicles and void car warranties.
AAA, which issued its warning today, says just 12 million of more than 240 million cars, trucks and SUVs now in use have manufacturers’ approval for E15. Flex-fuel vehicles, 2012 and newer General Motors vehicles, 2013 Fords and 2001 and later model Porsches are the exceptions, according to AAA, the nation’s largest motorist group, with 53.5 million members.
“It is clear that millions of Americans are unfamiliar with E15, which means there is a strong possibility that many may improperly fill up using this gasoline and damage their vehicle,” AAA President and CEO Robert Darbelnet tells USA TODAY. “Bringing E15 to the market without adequate safeguards does not responsibly meet the needs of consumers.”
Hey look buddy, the ideological agenda waits on no one and if you’re among those driving the 228 million “other” vehicles, tough nuts.
The government has said 15%. Nuff said.
BMW, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota and VW said their warranties will not cover fuel-related claims caused by E15. Ford, Honda, Kia, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo said E15 use will void warranties, says Darbelnet, citing potential corrosive damage to fuel lines, gaskets and other engine components.
Gee, I wonder if anyone will question the “fairness” of this.
Anyone doubt who will pick up the tab for this, Mr. and Mrs. Consumer?
Well, how about government mandates?
If government wants to lower the cost of health care, there’s an immediate means of doing so. Health insurance should be like a Chinese restaurant menu – pick one from column A and two from column B. But if you don’t want acupuncture coverage or massage therapy or, in fact, have a uterus, why in the world should you forced to buy coverage for all of that?
Peter Schweizer points out:
Forget for a minute the religious question and look at who wins big here: Big Pharma. This mandate is not really about condoms or generic versions of “the pill,” which are available free or cheap in lots of places. This is about brand-name birth control drugs and other devices that some consumers swear off because they are too expensive. The Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requires health-insurance companies provide contraceptive coverage for all “FDA approved contraceptive methods.” It does not insist on generics. And it does not offer any cost containment.
What’s more, the mandate prevents health-insurance companies from having copays or deductibles for the benefit. This is the perfect set up for Big Pharma. Since the drugs will be paid for by a third party (insurance companies, who will pass the cost on to employers and the rest of us), the consumer won’t worry about the price. Expensive brand names will no doubt see demand rise. Ask more health-care analysts why the cost of medical services continues to rise so rapidly and near the top of the list is the fact that a third-party payment system won’t contain costs.
Need Big Pharma on your side in healthcare mandate struggle? Looking for a way to put private health insurance companies out of business (or have them abandon the market)? This is a great way to help that along. I imagine there are other things to mandate for “free” as well, if you can get this one to stick (and have Big Pharma on your side and not screaming about it, after all, you didn’t say they had to give their stuff away for “free”).
By the way, when you finally have your way with the insurance industry and see private insurance companies get out of the healthcare insurance business, you’ll no longer need Big Pharma, will you?
When you finally have a single payer system and that single payer is government, then you will decide what will be paid for drugs and medicines, won’t you? After all, who are they going to sell their stuff too if not the single payer? Innovation and new drugs? Hey, they’re overhyped. And anyway, people who live longer cost health care providers (uh, that would be government) money.
It’s like the red kangaroo Dale talks about. You can see this convergence coming from a mile off, but seemingly we can’t (or won’t) do a thing about it.
And a free people shouldn’t have a government that mandates much of anything.
By mandate, in this sense, I mean requiring the mandatory purchase or provision of anything as dictated and then enforced by government. Such as contraception. Or health insurance.
Many people want to make this contraception controversy about religious freedom. I understand the argument, but in reality it is about basic freedom. Free people don’t do government mandates. It is because free people don’t see mandating much of anything as a function of government.
As to how screwy this contraception mandate is, let’s go with the religious argument and use a mandated product that we know would definitely be prohibited by a religion but, for whatever reason, the government feels a need to mandate its use (yeah, it’s a sarcastic example that uses absurdity to demonstrate the absurdity of the contraception mandate). Provided by Instapundit:
It’s as if we passed a law requiring mosques to sell bacon and then, when people objected, responded by saying ‘What’s wrong with bacon? You’re trying to ban bacon!!!!’”
Mandate firearms for all houses for public safety. No exception for Quakers. Oh, OK, we won’t make the Quakers pay for the guns, just have the homeowner’s insurance provide them for free.
We know how Muslims would react to example one (and, of course the administration would never try something that would offend Muslims) and we certainly know how the left would react to the second mandate if, for instance, a Republican administration issued such a mandate. Both would create a firestorm of protest and call each mandate “unconstitutional” and “government overreach”. Since it is just a bunch of “fundy”, mouth-breathing Christians, meh.
Given the examples, though, I assume we can dispense with all the posturing that mandates by government, in general (or in principle) are something acceptable to either side? They’re not. Except, of course, if each side has a favorite agenda item they’d like to see accomplished. Then, mandates are fine, huh?
What we need is a government mandate! We need to mandate that all cars sold in the United States, starting with the 2010 model year, be “flex-fuel vehicles” – that is, they should be able to run on a blend that is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline (the so-called E85 blend), or even a coal-derived methanol/gas mixture. This mandate would cost a fraction of the new fuel economy standard with the added benefit of saving barrels more oil.
Author of that quote? Rick Santorum.
I agree with the no mandate principle. Mandating citizens buy much of anything is not the function of government in a free society.
So, why do both sides continue to try to use them? And why does each claim the other side is the only side to believe them to be a function of government?
Especially the smaller, less intrusive and less costly government side?
Freedom’s hard. And messy. Totalitarianism is so much neater and besides, our elites know so much better than we what is good for us.
And why when government tells you how you must spend your money a certain, the unintended consequences are usually terrible:
Look, this isn’t rocket science, and the business owner in this video explains very well what happens when government dictates how you will spend any profits you make. Take a moment and listen to what he has to say near the end of the vid especially. He talks hard numbers and why, if forced to do what the government dictates, it will cost future jobs.
One of the things I’ve always said throughout this health care debate is health insurance should be something someone buys outside of employment. If Congress would deregulate the industry to the point that buyers were able to shop across state lines for a competitive insurance policy to cover their family and be a part of a huge nation wide pool to boot, prices for insurance would come down.
What is being mandated here puts no pressure on insurance companies to be competitive but it does require companies who are presently unable to provide it to do so. That will have an impact in employment. Owners like the one featured here will figure the cost per employee and most likely reduce the employee pool at a point where he thinks he can manage the mandate and still make a profit.
Of course he most likely won’t make the profit he was and so more restaurants won’t be built and more people won’t be hired.
The solution for lower cost health insurance does not lie in more government control or mandates. It is to be found in a real market that allows buyers the leverage they need to force health care insurance providers to field a competitive product. Until that happens, none of the solutions tendered through ObamaCare will increase coverage and decrease cost. It is an absolute impossibility the way that law is structured.
A bill has been introduced in the South Dakota legislature that would require any adult over 21 to buy a gun “sufficient to provide for their ordinary self-defense.”
The hook – the purpose of the bill is to demonstrate that government shouldn’t be requiring anyone to buy health insurance. Really. Or so say the sponsors:
“Do I or the other cosponsors believe that the State of South Dakota can require citizens to buy firearms? Of course not. But at the same time, we do not believe the federal government can order every citizen to buy health insurance,” he said.
So now our liberal friends are free to tell us why requiring all the citizens of a state to buy a gun is bad and different than telling all citizens of the United States they have to buy health insurance. If they believe in the power of the Commerce Clause to require citizens buy what the government demands they buy, why not a gun?
Even more irony – the groups lining up against the EU’s energy targets mandating the use of biofuels are not who you would expect:
Energy targets for 23 of the EU’s 27 members suggest 9.5 percent of the bloc’s transportation energy will come from biofuels by 2020, said the groups, which include Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and ActionAid. The crops may need an area twice the size of Belgium, and clearing the necessary land could make the fuels 167 percent more polluting for the climate than sticking with gasoline and diesel, they said.
The proponents naturally say that’s all nonsense:
The EU aims to get 10 percent of its energy for transportation from biofuels, hydrogen and renewable power by 2020. The target is meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020.
EU energy spokeswoman Marlene Holzner said the targets require less land than the study suggests and that EU guidelines prevent the use of deforested land.
“The Renewable Directive says very clearly that it is not allowed to chop down forests to produce biofuels,” Holzner said in an e-mail. “The same goes for drained peatland, wetland or highly biodiverse areas.”
Well of course it says that’s not allowed. Whether or not that’s actually followed is another matter entirely. But here’s the point – the directive’s implementation means that existing land that can be used to reach the targets must be converted from growing whatever it is growing now (food?) to being dedicated to biofuel production. Either way a large area (twice the size of Belgium?) is going to have to be dedicated to such production to make the 10 percent target viable. So where does "food production" go? Looking for new land, that’s where. Or, the EU learns to live with the reduction in agricultural products and the resultant increase in prices required to turn the existing land into biofuel production.
The bureaucrats wave away the concern:
The 10 percent target would require 2 million to 5 million hectares of land, and there is enough unused terrain in the EU that was previously used for crop production to cover its needs, Holzner said.
This is classic government intrusion into markets and the beginning of the inevitable market distortions that brings along with the law of unintended consequences. Biofuels have to be grown somewhere. Government is going to subsidize that at a rate higher than growing food. That means, at some point, food growth is going to be displaced. Holzner, with an airy wave of the hand says “hey, the land is available – problem solved”.
Of such are man-made disasters cluelessly formulated and executed.
The GOP’s “Pledge” health care section is, well, screwed up.
For instance, on the one hand they say this:
The American people wanted one thing out of health care reform: lower costs,which President Obama and Democrats in Washington promised, but did not deliver. Instead of expanding the size and scope of government with more debt, higher taxes,and burdensome mandates, Americans are calling for reforms that lower costs for families and small businesses, increase access to affordable, high-quality care and strengthen the doctor-patient relationship. We have a plan to do just that.
First the premise – anyone, do you remember Americans “calling for reforms that lower costs for families and small business?” Yeah, neither do I. I certainly remember a whole raft of politicians making their inept handling of government run insurance systems like Medicare and Medicaid and running up the cost of health care seem like Americans were calling for that.
What, in fact, Americans were calling for was for government to back off and spend less. But now, it appears, even the GOP has swallowed the poison premise. They have bought into the “need” for health care reform and so entitle their section on it “repeal and replace”.
Replace? Where did “replace” come from? Was anyone out in flyover land talking about replacing one bad government program with another? I certainly don’t remember it.
And zero in on the word “mandates” in the cite above. I believe the word “burdensome” is used in front of it and the implication is these “burdensome mandates” will actually increase both government size and scope as well as cost.
So what do the Republicans put forward as a part of their plan?
Ensure Access for Patients with Pre-Existing Conditions
Health care should be accessible for all,regardless of pre-existing conditions or past illnesses. We will expand state high-risk pools, reinsurance programs and reduce the cost of coverage. We will make it illegal for an insurance company to deny coverage to someone with prior coverage on the basis of a pre-existing condition, eliminate annual and lifetime spending caps, and prevent insurers from dropping your coverage just because you get sick. We will incentivize states to develop innovative programs that lower premiums and reduce the number of uninsured Americans.
Is that a fact?
Back to the premise they’ve bought into – if “Americans” were calling for health care reform that “lowered costs”, can anyone tell me how this does that?
Who is going to pay for these “mandates” on insurance companies? Why everyone is. This is a universal mandate which will require everyone with an insurance policy to kick in and fund health care costs with no spending caps.
It will drive them up!
This isn’t “access to health care”, this is an unlimited license to spend other people’s money via a legal mandate on insurance companies that would essentially require them to do so.
They supposedly spent a long time putting this together and “listening” to “Americans”. Sounds more like they sat in a few of Obama’s campaign stops and town halls to me.
Well despite all their talk, it isn’t the Democrats. Speaking of the "party of no"Yesterday they killed an amendment offered by Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) that would have dropped the requirement for increased 1099s issued by business thereby saying "no" to saving huge compliance costs for small businesses.
Johanns said Section 9006 of the ObamaCare bill, requires a "2,000 percent increase" in mandatory filings of 1099 tax forms for businesses, charities, state and local governments, and even churches.
That means that in 2012:
…all organizations will be mandated to issue 1099 tax forms not only to contracted workers, but to any other group or business from which they purchase at least $600 worth of goods or services in a given year. They’ll also be required to send a copy of each 1099 document to the IRS. Johanns called the entire process "punishing" to businesses and cited a July report from the IRS’ independent taxpayer watchdog arm warning that Section 9006 "may impose significant burdens" that it labeled "disproportionate" and perhaps unenforceable.
Also killed was a proposal by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), which would have raised the minimum annual threshold for 1099 requirements from $600 to $5000, and would have exempted businesses with 24 or fewer employees.
Now, just sit back and imagine the compliance cost this will require. If you ever wanted an example of why businesses have no confidence in government, this should help you with that understanding. This is as much an unfunded mandate as any. And it will have businesses wondering if they want to spend the money if they have to report just about everything they do via 1099.
As usual, a duplicitous White House is involved as Guy Benson reports:
Johanns was especially critical of the White House’s role in torpedoing his amendment. Yesterday afternoon, he told Townhall.com that the president’s stated support for repealing Section 9006 was a bluff. "The White House is panicking. They know it’s a disaster, and they wanted to send a signal that they’d cede ground knowing full well my amendment and [Nelson's] wouldn’t pass," he said.
So as you sit in your office at 9pm filling out 1099s or paying someone else overtime to do it, remember who brought you the onerous and costly task. Then do what you must.
Your “Econ 101” lesson for the day is a lesson politicians never seem to grasp, although they do love to harp on is “greedy corporations” outsourcing “American jobs”. In effect, they play off of free market decisions necessary to maintain competitiveness in order to characterize corporations as the bad guys (and, naturally, they and government as the white knights).
Of course the market decision I’m speaking of concerns doing what is necessary to remain competitive in highly competitive markets. And, one of the highest costs of production is headcount or the workers. So in a free market, competitive industries are going to seek the lowest cost possible for labor to remain competitive.
That may mean moving to a new country for labor intensive industries where labor costs are lower.
But sometimes it isn’t “greedy corporations” that drive American jobs offshore. Sometimes it is the US Government. Take light bulbs for instance:
The last major GE factory making ordinary incandescent light bulbs in the United States is closing this month, marking a small, sad exit for a product and company that can trace their roots to Thomas Alva Edison’s innovations in the 1870s.
Wait, you say, there’s still a demand for light bulbs! Of course there is – but thanks to government intrusion, that demand, by law, is only for a particular kind – not the incandescent types that we actually manufactured here. Instead of letting the market decide which type of light bulb it wanted, the government decided to mandate it. And what you are now allowed to “demand” is a compact fluorescent, or CFL.
What made the plant here vulnerable is, in part, a 2007 energy conservation measure passed by Congress that set standards essentially banning ordinary incandescents by 2014. The law will force millions of American households to switch to more efficient bulbs.
The resulting savings in energy and greenhouse-gas emissions are expected to be immense. But the move also had unintended consequences.
Rather than setting off a boom in the U.S. manufacture of replacement lights, the leading replacement lights are compact fluorescents, or CFLs, which are made almost entirely overseas, mostly in China.
Consisting of glass tubes twisted into a spiral, they require more hand labor, which is cheaper there. So though they were first developed by American engineers in the 1970s, none of the major brands make CFLs in the United States.
CFLs, as noted, are more labor intensive to manufacture than are incandescent bulbs.
China’s labor costs are far less than the US’s. Therefore, the US government’s mandate ending the use of incandesents by 2014 and mandating CFLs be purchased in their place drove the domestic lighting industry – and the jobs it produced – off shore. And all based on dubious science and the apparent belief that energy production is finite and waning.
Oh, and “how about those green jobs?” Another promise shipped off to China.
When you screw that CFL in some family in China will thank you. And when you pay your taxes some of which go toward unemployment benefits for former light bulb manufacturers here – make sure you thank the politicians for the job well done. I’m sure those former GE workers will.