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Hood’s Winks – ‘Govmint’ changes are often hardest

By Ralph Hood

As the great Will Rogers used to say—“Well, all I know is what I read in the papers.”

In the last week I read a newspaper story that just amazed me—or would have amazed me if I hadn’t seen our govmint in action heretofore. It seems that a law was enacted last year that prohibited Erwin’s NFS from using force to protect the company from evil folk. Hey, folks, we’re not talking about a coffee shop here; we’re talking about NFS, the company that provides nuclear fuel to our govmint. Surely NFS should have a right to protect that product from the bad guys.

Then, lo and behold, after they enacted that rule, they discovered the blunder. NFS was supposed to have the right to use such force. Somebody goofed!

Now remember, this was last year. I don’t know exactly when last year, but sometime last year. That’s a long time to ignore such a critical error.

Well, I thought, I bet they jumped on that goof up and changed it quickly!

Wrong! At the time I read the story last week, our esteemed govmint still hadn’t corrected the mistake!

Can you believe it? I can, because this is not the first such error. How many of you remember the public fussing loudly about the income tax “marriage penalty”? As I remember it, two married people paid more income tax than two single people who had the same income. We were thus penalizing married people and rewarding people who don’t marry.

People fussed and moaned and the govmint dithered and dawdled. I guess they finally fixed that problem, but I don’t remember when. Seems to me that we fussed about it for years.

OTOH, the govmint sometimes passes a law, then leaves it in force too long. For one example, in the U.S.A. we started using catalytic converters, by mandate, in 1975. We’re still using them today to lower the danger from exhaust systems.

Even if it was a good law in 1975, we have to wonder if that mandate is still the best way to clean up exhausts after all these years.

Maybe. Maybe not.

Just imagine that a brilliant auto engineer discovers a way to replace the catalytic converter with a new gadget that is cheaper and more efficient. Would his boss remind him that the law mandates the catalytic converter? Or would his boss decide to fight the legal battle for years, at great expense, in order to replace the catalytic converter with the new device?

The same story is true whenever we mandate a solution, instead of mandating results and leaving the solutions up to the competitive marketplace. The same is true when the govmint mandates anything that allows only one way to—as we used to say—skin a cat.