Saturday, November 01, 2008

Governed out of Business

At the 2006 meeting of the National Conference of State Legislators, Federal Express founder Fred Smith noted, "The cost of government regulation is sometimes not what is, but what could have been."

British historian Paul Johnson gives a vivid illustration of what was once possible, but is no longer:

Another example is the Empire State Building, which officially opened on May 1, 1931. Masterpiece of the firm of Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, the Empire State Building was completed in only one year and 45 days, a testament to business efficiency and the determination of the dedicated workforce.

We couldn't match those time frames today, despite the advances in technology, because the advances have been outstripped by an even more rapid growth in complex and idiotic planning procedures, bureaucracy, myopic trade unionism and restrictive legislation.

Mr. Johnson argues that the current western financial crisis results partially from a liberalism that we can not afford. The regulatory state, which puts us at a severe competitive disadvantage with the burgeoning Indian and Chinese economies has had negative consequences for western society:

In August China pulled off a propaganda triumph with its staging of the Summer Olympic Games, which involved huge construction projects--all completed on time. London is currently preparing for the 2012 games. All indications, so far, are that this is going to be an embarrassing and hugely expensive fiasco.

I don't know whether this year's financial catastrophe will shock the politicians and people of the West into a new seriousness. There's certainly no sign of it yet. I had to laugh when a Chinese visitor recently said to me: "I see you're going back to the windmill in Britain. We Chinese cannot afford that."

That comment puts things in a nutshell: We are traveling along the high road to incompetence and poverty, led by a farcical coalition of fashionably liberal academics on the make, assorted eco-crackpots and media wiseacres. This strain of liberalism is highly infectious. The Indians and Chinese have yet to be infected. They're still healthy, hard at work and going places, full speed ahead.


Hat Tip: Instapundit

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