While watching the “coronation” of President Joe Biden, there was a point made by the President referring to the “damage” President Trump had done to the Country through his deregulation actions. I was reminded of what has happened in this Country economically since President Trump has been in office and an essay I wrote in December of 2016 during the transition. I almost feel prophetic. And I realize how clueless and dangerous this “new” administration truly is to the Real World. We can’t go back to where we were just 4+ short years ago.
From December 2016-
“WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN”
As we are moving toward the peaceful transition of power at the top of our National Government, things are looking up for the future of the US going forward. There seems to be a very optimistic mood sweeping across the Country as we have elected a new President whose general air of confidence is truly infectious. What are the big changes We The People are looking for? Tax reform. Build the wall. Deport illegal alien criminals to start. Stop the subsidized importation of those who would do US harm. Rebuild our military. But to me, what is the most important change for the recovery of our economy? Regulation reform.
As someone who has spent most of my adult professional life working in the theater of industrial manufacturing, I have watched what the ravages of government, and particularly federal government, regulations have done to accelerate the number of US manufacturing entities that have either left the Country, or just had to throw in the towel and shut down. I keep hearing the simple-minded in the political class who say, “There’s no way we can keep the manufacturing companies from leaving the US because our labor rates are just too expensive.” When I hear this I know the person saying it has never been involved in the manufacturing world. Why would I say this?
The reason is that no “politico” is going to ever say anything that may point the blame for a problem at the political class. The politicos just don’t seem to recognize that labor has become a smaller and smaller percentage of the costs to manufacture for the last 30+ years. But the costs of regulations have become a bigger and bigger piece of the pie every year for as long as I’ve been in the manufacturing sector, since the late 70s. The bigger problem is that because the regulations are constantly changing, in many of the most recent cases for no real reason, it causes uncertainty in those invested in the affected industry. And even more so in the industrial sector, because one “simple”, or “minor”, regulatory change can force sweeping changes to a whole manufacturing plant or process. The politicos, who have never been involved in any real or tangible endeavor, have no clue, or evidently any real concern, that whenever a regulation changes, no matter how “minor”, it can cost a manufacturer thousands and thousands of dollars.
This doesn’t even start to take in to account the real point of this post which is, “How many great inventions and innovations never happen because of the time and talent wasted to conform to regulations? Particularly what has been wasted before the altar of unnecessary regulations?” Do we even think about the amount of human and financial capital that is expended to comply with the mindless whims of some far off bureaucrat, which in many cases has no requirement to justify their regulation? I think the saddest part of this is that our industries have just been beaten in to submission by our overly aggressive government.
Why do so many of these regulations need to be made at the federal level? Why do we assume that the absence of a federal government regulation, for instance on most every energy generating or consuming device, also assumes that We The People are just too damned stupid to make good choices? They believe we will rush to the dirty air/dirty water extremes to save a couple of pennies as a consumer or profit a few more cents as a producer. Please think about that for a minute. Yes, you’re not as smart as a roomful of bureaucrats of all stripes, with the statutory power of law to enforce their decisions. Because of this, many items that should be being built or grown closer to the consumer are eliminated, because the smaller local suppliers can’t afford the costs of compliance or potential liabilities of creating something that doesn’t fit in to the regulatory box. This simple formula has viciously undercut the potential of thousands of potential small businesses and entrepreneurs from ever even making the decision to attempt to start. And people wonder why major corporations flood the regulatory powers, legislators, with lobbying money? That answer is simple, eliminating your future competition before they even exist makes good business sense, but it destroys what made this Country the economic behemoth it was in the last Century. And leaves US to wonder, “What might have been?”