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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Regulation vs. the Human Spirit

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Although I've been unable to find an example, I recall seeing an infographic (a little like this one at Mercatus) comparing the dollar cost of our regulatory state to the national GDPs of Spain and Russia. True, the dollar costs are outrageous, but what other costs might there be?

Jeffrey Tucker of the American Institute for Economic Research has recently noted that automobile esthetics have been such a casualty.

Image by Emslichter, via Pixabay, license.
Your car looks like a box. So does every other car. It's boring, even shocking when you consider how awesome cars used to look. What's gone wrong? And to what extent has the design mess contributed to the decline of American auto manufacturing?
Indeed. I'd add that it's depressing if one dwells on it too much. I noted some time back that regulation had something to do with this, but Tucker argues that regulation deserves the lion's share of the blame:
Truly, this cries out for explanation. So I was happy to see a video made by CNET that gives five reasons: mandates for big fronts to protect pedestrians, mandates that require low tops for fuel economy, a big rear to balance out the big fronts, tiny windows resulting from safety regulations that end up actually making the car less safe, and high belt lines due to the other regs. In other words, single-minded concern for testable "safety" and the environment has wrecked the entire car aesthetic.

And that's only the beginning. Car and Driver puts this as plainly as can be: "In our hyperregulated [sic] modern world, the government dictates nearly every aspect of car design, from the size and color of the exterior lighting elements to how sharp the creases stamped into sheetmetal can be."

You are welcome to read an engineer's account of what it is like to design an American car. Nothing you think, much less dream, really matters. The regulations drive the whole process. He explains that the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards with hundreds of regulations -- really a massive central plan -- dictate every detail and have utterly ruined the look and feel of American cars. [links in original, bold added]
I am inclined to agree.

This is just one aspect of one part of the economy. There are other costs. One that comes to mind is the difficulty of starting a business. I haven't an entrepreneurial bone in my body, but the thought has crossed even my mind -- and the very idea of having to deal with the regulatory headaches that would surely entail gets me quickly on to other things. (There are enough obstacles for businessmen without such artificial ones.) All of this brings to mind Ayn Rand's essay on "Our Cultural Value-Deprivation." The lowering of our quality of life and the diminution of our mental horizons -- directly attributable to the cultural decline Rand speaks of there -- are amplified by the regulatory state, which is itself a product of that decline.

The dollar cost of regulation is enormous, but it doesn't hold a candle to the spiritual cost.

-- CAV

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