How Government Makes US Poorer…

Many people believe (mistakenly) that “government” makes us better off…

The unfortunate truth is the opposite. The more that government interferes in the economy, the worse off we get. Increasing government regulation of more and more activities raises costs and reduces, not increases, the general welfare. Since World War 2, the role of “government” (federal, state, and local) has greatly increased from what it used to be. Our opportunity to “better ourselves” through providing goods and services has been reduced. More and more those who provide any “service” have to be “licensed” by government (federal, state, local). Services that used to be provided by anyone willing to do the work often now require a “license” from “government”. Usually the claim is made that this is done for “the protection of the public”. The truth of the matter is that the “public” is forced to pay higher and higher prices for services that used to be provided by those ambitious to work. To provide valued services at a price that people could “afford”.

This is an entirely different matter from government providing protection against “fraud”. As a general rule, most of these type of services are simple enough that anyone who has any understanding of the principles involved can determine for themselves whether or not the work is done correctly. And in any case a “government license” does not insure that the work will be done correctly or safely. In most of these cases we are not dealing here with something that is incredibly complicated or complex. Things like putting shingles on a roof does not require a great deal of education or skill. It is something that people have been able to do for themselves for centuries before government ever got involved in the issue. The only thing that “government” has been able to do is to increase costs to the consumer.

Government regulation also decreases employment by raising costs. It is illegal to hire someone and pay them less than the minimum wage, even if they are being taught how to do a job. My grandfather got his start in life back in the last years of the 19th Century by starting work as a “trainee” in a foundry. Through learning the foundry business he was able to increase his value to his employer until he ended up as “foreman” over the entire enterprise. He started BTW at the age of 13. His formal education ended with the 5th grade. Today of course no boy at the age of 13 would be allowed to drop out of school, certainly not to go to work in a foundry. And while the “minimum wage” did not exist at the time, the training wage he was paid would probably have been below “minimum”…

A young person today starting out faces “handicaps” that my grandfather never knew. He could work for any employer willing to take “a chance” with a youngster willing to learn a trade. Government at that point in time interfered very little in most people’s lives. If you had a useful skill, you could put it to use for your own benefit without any “licenses” or “permits” from government. You could go door to door seeking work. Today, where I live, you have to obtain a “permit” from my local city government to do such. This of course has “consequences”. Not only is it more difficult for anyone seeking work, it is also more difficult to find someone to do the work without having to search through a list of contractors to find someone willing to do the work. (at much higher cost)

When I was but a boy, we had a farmer who came around with a horse drawn wagon who sold fresh produce from his wagon. This was as I recall while WW2 was still going on and gasoline was rationed. We also had milk delivered to the door (by a milkman driving a truck). You could also call and have groceries delivered. All of these things no longer exist today. Yes, you can buy some food stuffs from Amazon, but there are practical limits on what you can buy this way. Plus there is a shipping cost (concealed in the price of the goods) so the cost is higher in most cases than buying from your local supermarket.

All of this leave little doubt that “government” does increase both our cost of living and the ability of those with lesser educations from using what knowledge they have for their own benefit. In effect government regulation has greatly narrowed what people are allowed to in the form of services to others without first obtaining a government license or permit. It is thus not surprising that we have so many unemployed or underemployed considering the obstacles that people today face in finding a means of supporting themselves! Naturally too this increases everyone’s own “cost of living” well beyond what it would be if government behaved the way that it used to behave back before it became the intrusive “Big Brother” that it has become today…


About muskegonlibertarian

77 year old retired owner of a security guard agency. Member of the Libertarian Party.
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