Token Dissonance

Black & gay, young & conservative. A Southern gentleman writes about life and politics after Yale


Regulations are your friends (except when they’re not)

“A government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away.” -Barry Goldwater

“Republicans are going to feed y’all to the Minotaur!”

I like regulations. In theory, they do great things like protect the environment and keep people from dying. They can also keep lead out of our children’s toys and prevent disastrously precarious housing bubbles. But when you realize that given regulations could cost as much as $1.2 million per job created, you start to wonder how serious the cost-benefit analysis on these proposals are and whether they’re all really worth it. Then again, given that President Obama’s stimulus, by the administration’s own numbers, cost $317,000 per job, I guess things could be worse. But if we’re throwing yet another party of low expectations, I’d rather just head to the bar.

Speaking of costs, Boston officials recently shut down Uber, a smartphone-accessible on-demand car service, because the company uses GPS to better serve its customers. That’s right, government officials actually shuttered a successful startup—and all the jobs it created—because its technology was too advanced for the Massachusetts Division of Standards. I can’t imagine why that region is losing people.

Lest you think this madness isolated to New England, Uber has also had a rocky relationship with Washington, D.C. Apparently, the startup’s innovative business model threatens to compete with the district’s dysfunctional taxi establishment. Rather than applaud this development like reasonable people, D.C. lawmakers want to protect the antiquated system by forcing Uber to be five times more expensive than regular taxis. How any of this is supposed to save lives or protect consumers is beyond me. But it would definitely be good for the taxi industry that helped elect D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray. You know, the guy whose administration is a cesspool of corruption.

We can all agree that common-sense regulations have their value. But the conversation has gotten far beyond questions of flammable tap water and polluted air. Government control is creeping ever deeper into the everyday operations of the private sphere, not for the good of society, but to repay the political support of special interests. Strangely, all this nepotistic protectionism is proving detrimental to the economy. It’s almost like feudalism failed or something.

You don’t have to be a free-market libertarian to notice that even the strongest arguments for robust regulations still must contend with very human—and often irrational—actors. At the end of the day, people in power will usually do what’s best for the people who support them, the public good be damned. The fairest approach is to limit the ability of the state to interfere with the success of small business that can’t afford the bribes political contributions to buy special treatment. Only then can we get the full range of innovation and economic growth that will benefit everybody.

Now is not the time to put y’all the economy back in chains. Successful, innovative businesses toiled long days and hot nights to build this country. It’s time to set them free.


The Ballad of Hope & Change

“I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it…I’m concerned about the very heart of the America, the 90, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.” –Mitt Romney

“I’m poor, and I’m going to stay poor,” Tunnicliffe continued while staring at his $320 weekly unemployment check. “It’s been very liberating.” –The Onion

In case you missed it, The Onion issued a scathing, if “satirical”, indictment of the social and economic situation in the United States. It’s all too real conclusion? The American poor, having abandoned every hope, now pity those who still believe in upward mobility and the American Dream. A few of my liberal friends promulgated this link, presumably as an Occupy-Wall-Street-esque salvo against the rapacious 1% and their invidious Republican enablers. But Barack Obama has sat in power for well over three years now, and all moves on the horizon are gimmicks.

And the world languishes.

But lest you fear the satire overstates the point, let us belabor it. The unemployment rate, still hovering north of 8%, is buffered by 34,000 Americans leaving the labor force between May and June, 2012, and over 1.9 million who have quit looking for jobs since June 2011. As The Onion put it, “The unrealistic expectations and false hope they experience must be unbearable.” Nearly two million Americans in the last year, alone, seem to agree. Even now into August, the economy keeps growing too slowly to lower the unemployment rate.

The lasting problem is both economic and psychological, going to the spiritual core of Americana. Voters don’t feel the country is on the right track. Parents don’t believe their kids will have a brighter future. Americans are terrified that our own government is unworthy of trust. For all the hype around universal healthcare, most people expect premiums to increase this year.

The afflicted hilarity of that Onion article, and the irony of its liberal favor, is the ribald shadow cast by regime of Hope and Change™. Our president glided into glory, promising a brave new world, and nobody—not even his fans—believes him now. Nearly four years later, liberals still castigate Republicans for trying to burn the world to spite Obama. Conservatives have taken up the fight to “Take Our Country Back” from the leftists who called George W. Bush a fascist. Everybody fears we’re all going to hell in a welfare line, and what have we to show for it beyond bitterness?

I can be bitter on my own dime, thank you very much; but perhaps the government will tax me for that, too.

Whether either side is right or off the rocker is beside the point; the president has failed to even make us believe the world can get better. This is what that Onion author understood and why the Left clings to the boogeyman of W and relentless attacks on Romney’s business record. The administration has nothing better to offer. So for reelection, they’ll burn a path through Middle America to the sea.

And after all this, some leftists still believe Obama is the only adult in the room. Mr. President, if your leadership is The Example of Adulthood, ‘tis no small wonder that Americans opt for perpetual adolescence.