BIG GOVERNMENT STRIKES AGAIN


Big government is again stepping in and regulating our right to have a good time.  More specifically, they are blocking progress, for we may not easily have package delivery to our door from on high.  If they would only let people alone, things would be fine, because people invariably do the right thing.  The market tells us so.

Yes, drone regulation is upon us.  Drones can now be tracked to their owner.  They have to be, because there have been issues with unregulated drones that couldn’t be tracked.  I knew it would happen.  Drones were interfering with civilian aviation, 237 instances of a drone’s coming with 200 feet of a manned aircraft in the first nine months this year.  An aircraft on final approach moves 200 feet in less than a second.  Ninety per cent of the incidents occurred above 400 feet, the legal limit for drones.  Regulation helps, but people still find ways around rules. I guess it is like  “leash your dog”; that rule is for other people, not for your special drone or dog.  Drones have interfered with wildland firefighting by having so many over a fire at one time that air tankers couldn’t safely drop their loads.

Lack of sufficient regulation in the financial industry almost brought down the world’s economy.  Turns out that a lot of NINJA mortgages were bogus, and when the mortgages weren’t paid, the whole house of paper came tumbling down, as did the economy.  Solution?  Roll back regulations further.  Wow.  Do I move to Canada now or wait?

This, Sens. Paul, Cruz, Rubio, Graham, and every other anti-government crusader, is why we need regulation.  I don’t want people to die unnecessarily; I really don’t want them to die because some arrogant jerk flew his drone where it shouldn’t have been flown, like into a jet engine, causing a crash.  Let me state my point succinctly, before I give more examples.

PEOPLE CAN’T BE TRUSTED TO SELF-REGULATE.

Yes, many regulations are annoying.  Those who went to Louisiana to help out after Katrina had to go through a daylong course on sexual harassment, when people needed urgent help. Smart people know when to bend rules, like no chain saws in the wilderness, when a 30 million tree blowdown in 1999 trapped many canoeists and lives were at stake.  Chain saws were brought in.

Even with regulations, we have problems with our food supply.  We have E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria and other outbreaks. Without such regulations, what would we have, a microbial free for all?  Market choice?  It might do some of these senators good to get food poisoning.  Maybe they would understand.  If the signs in restrooms makes one person a day wash his hands, it is still better.  Does it prevent disease?  I don’t know: It’s difficult to count non-events.  It does not make regulation any less valid.

What about medical care?  I practiced in a hospital where we had a neurosurgeon with bad outcomes.  Periodically, somebody complained, a partner of mine had to investigate. When he finished, he was accused of trying to badmouth the competition.  What if you were a patient from out of town and didn’t know the quality of care?  Come to think of it, how do you know, anyway?  It’s bad enough to have a nasty disease or problem—I’ve been there.  It’s reassuring to know that the physician taking care of you has had adequate training to do what you need. This doesn’t just happen by chance, you know.  It requires regulation, and the same physicians who hated “administration” couldn’t get enough of us administrators involved when someone was practicing in their turf.

What about the elderly who get ripped off by non-licensed financial planners and lose thousands of dollars?  Is that market forces?  It’s fortunate that I wasn’t given regulatory authority over Wall Street.  I would have started with a 0.125% tax on all transactions—both sides— effective immediately. I would have taxed all bonuses at 80% to limit what people made for moving money around, rather than doing something more useful, like say instilling the love of reading, math, music, or art into the lives of children.  And I would have taxed income over $2 million at 80%, same reason, and I’d remove the cap on deductions for Social Security.  Wealth transfer?  You bet. Until we have a way to control our population and teach them good money managing skills, we can’t have people dying from lack of money to get medical care or put a roof over their head. Some who get that money are lazy slobs.  Yes.  But far, far more are single mothers with children, mothers who bore children because they didn’t have access to family planning, which the Republicans want to ban. Care for the poor, isn’t that what religion taught you?

Finally, the only instance I know where a few bad apples have not ruined something for the many is the matter of responsible gun ownership. California and Washington, with strict rules on gun ownership, have 30% fewer gun deaths per 100,000 than the other Western states.  Oregon, with somewhat strict rules, has fewer as well.  The common ground for those 3 states is universal background checks.  The authors were careful not to say causal, but there appears to be no other cause.

Almost certainly, fewer guns lead to fewer suicides. This happened dramatically in Australia with a buyback of perhaps 20% of privately owned guns.  Suicide rates by firearms fell 57%.  Suicide by gun requires minimal thought and a quick action which is almost always fatal.  Pills are less effective.  If I wrote an op-ed about this subject, almost certainly somebody, anonymous, of course, would write, ”let them kill themselves,” an incredibly insensitive comment which by itself should disqualify that person from owning a firearm.  Mind you, I don’t believe anything will change. Gun sales are increasing at a time when I continue to avoid gun ownership.  Afraid of being in the wrong place at the wrong time?  Sure.  But absence of a gun in the house lessens my risk of death significantly.  Guns have to be locked up to be safe; unlocking them and storing them by a bed is to me a bad idea.  A guy answered the phone one night and shot off his ear.  Yes.

Good guys with guns?  Jimmy Hatch, a Navy SEAL, writes eloquently why that is a bad idea.  He has been in many gunfights and describes the confusion one faces in one.  He concludes good guys with guns are far more likely to cause more deaths in these situations.

Good thing I’m not in charge.  I would regulate Wall Street.  I’d require software that would shut down a drone that was more than 400 feet in the air, and fine the owner.  I would pull a Gromyko on guns, for Gromyko was the master at getting what he wanted:  Ask for something outrageous, complain throughout every part of the negotiations, and complain bitterly about the result, too, how much one gave away.

Gromyko got what he wanted all along, simultaneously laying a guilt trip on the other side.  Brilliant.

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