Deregulation: It'll Cure What Ails Ya

(Image by Jana Schneider from Pixabay.)

“Get the hell out of my way!” –John Galt, Atlas Shrugged

When Franklin Delano Roosevelt came into office pledging to end the Great Depression, he and Congress simmered up a party-size bowl of alphabet soup agencies to micromanage the business, wages, prices, and employment. The result? A couple of left-leaning UCLA economists were forced to conclude that FDR’s New Deal actually lengthened the Great Depression by seven years. That’s seven extra years of double-digit unemployment. Seven extra years of soup lines. Seven extra years of the shame and embarrassment of not being able to find honest work.

After their four-year study Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian concluded:

President Roosevelt believed that excessive competition was responsible for the Depression by reducing prices and wages, and by extension reducing employment and demand for goods and services. So he came up with a recovery package that would be unimaginable today, allowing businesses in every industry to collude without the threat of antitrust prosecution and workers to demand salaries about 25 percent above where they ought to have been, given market forces. The economy was poised for a beautiful recovery, but that recovery was stalled by these misguided policies.

Mister, we could have used a man like Herbert Hoover again — although Calvin Coolidge would have been an even better choice.

Today, the Democratic Congress and the Republican Trump administration are looking at various bailout and stimulus packages because sadly, that’s the kind of government we have now — and have had for a long time. As Ohanian, vice chair of UCLA’s Department of Economics, warned, “We found that a relapse isn’t likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies.” But it isn’t often anymore that I mount my mighty steed to go crusading against bigly government spending, because frankly, almost no one cares.

But there is good news coming out of the crisis caused by the Chinese coronavirus from Wuhan, a city in China ruled by Chinese Communists where the Chinese-sourced Sino-virus came from. There’s even good news coming out of Washington.

In our proper haste in fighting the virus, Washington is eliminating a lot of red tape.

One of the lingering maladies of America’s century-long experiment with Progressive governance is the cartelization of certain professions, particularly ones that are well-paid to begin with, like medicine and law. But there’s this:

Instead of a national market for health care, we have 50 discrete markets, each shielded from competition from all the others. That restriction reduces access and forces up prices. Allowing — allowing! — doctors to practice across state lines is nice in an emergency, but it would be a solid liberty-minded reform during normal times, too.

States and cities are also getting into the cutting action.

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis announced today that the state will be relaxing licensing requirements for certain professions, but this is a developing story and I don’t have a link to it yet. It’s a smart move, although what state governments need to do is look at getting out of the licensing business altogether. Again, licensing cartelizes service industries, and that leads to less competition, higher prices, reduced innovation, and fewer opportunities for advancement among our poorest workers.

On Thursday, President Trump announced that thanks to red-tape cutting at the FDA, two new antivirals have been approved for treating the symptoms of COVID-19, caused by the sometimes-deadly virus from China. A true vaccine isn’t expected for another 12 months, but given enough deregulation, we might at least be able to speed up production and delivery.

One of the most pain-in-the-rear regulations since the attacks of 9/11 is the size limit on carry-on toiletries. But at least for hand sanitizers, that’s changing — at least for now:

Of course, the TSA has still gotta TSA, so they’ll “inspect” every 12-ounce container. But with the reduction in air travel, hopefully, wait times won’t be increased. What we really need is a full rethink of airline/airplane security. If this one relaxed rule works out, maybe we can start looking at others.

Even San Francisco is getting in on the act. The San Francisco Chronicle reported on Tuesday that “Mayor London Breed issued an emergency measure Tuesday to radically speed up the time it takes to hire public health care workers.” The hope is that reducing red tape will relieve “the shortages of nurses and other critical health care staff in the city.”

And on an issue close to my heart — if not to my Colorado residence — Texas has stripped a regulation preventing restaurants from delivering cocktails with your dinner.

This might seem a small thing, but it isn’t. I grabbed takeout lunch for my family yesterday from Back East, a sports bar here in Monument, Colorado. It was eerie seeing the place so empty at lunchtime, but my wife and I are doing what we can to support local restaurants during the emergency. But your typical restaurant makes something like 50% of its profits on liquor sales, so I couldn’t help wondering if, without any liquor sales, Back East and many other restaurants like it can sustain enough cash flow to stay solvent. So this is a smart move by Texas, and we can hope that Colorado and 48 other states quickly follow suit.

Let’s also remember not to let a chance for snark to go to waste:

“Deregulate all the things!” I say.

Up next: Homeschooling?

Parents and kids alike may learn quickly enough that when schools get out of the way of education, kids can learn the same amount of material — or more — in a lot less time. Plus, no having to walk in the dark to the bus at oh-dark-thirty.

On a personal note, I’ve tried for the last two years to sell my middle-schooler on being homeschooled, now that he knows what career and college education path he wants to take. He keeps saying no, but I’m pretty sure that’s because his middle school is half-populated by available teenage girls, while our home doesn’t have any of those at all. With the Chinese coronavirus from Wuhan, a city in China ruled by Chinese Communists where the new Sino-virus came from, maybe his attitude will change before he starts high school next year. And maybe for many other students as well.

I still expect Congress, in its haste and its greed (but mostly its greed), will pass a lot of stupid, unnecessary, and counterproductive bills over the next few weeks. Not even the Chinese coronavirus from Wuhan, a city in China ruled by Chinese Communists where the Chinese-sourced Sino-virus came from, can alter the truism that “no man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.”

But we on the liberty-loving Right can use this as one of those “teachable moments.” Later on, we can point to what got deregulated, and how that helped. And we can point to where Washington got in the way, and how that hurt.

We’ll need to be ready to make that argument as forcefully as we can, because at the rate Washington is spending, we might not be able to afford another seven years of getting it wrong.