Mises Daily Articles
Out of Business
The last few years as an executive in a manufacturing company gave me a frighteningly close look at the inner workings of regulators in our government. Maybe I'm just naïve, but what I discovered was shocking.
In the past, I realized our leaders were disingenuous when they spoke about "creating jobs" and "improving the economy." Now, I have a slightly different take. After my experiences this year, and after giving this a lot of thought, I am adamant that our leaders have no business in the first place "creating jobs," or "improving the economy," or even claiming they have the ability to do so.
In fact, I have witnessed the loss of jobs as a direct result of regulations by unnamed and unelected bureaucrats, who are backed up by threats of prosecution from the government. Our government is stifling job creation.
Although I am not a conspiracy theorist, I am certain that if I wrote about my experience with specifics, the company for which I work would suffer retribution by our government. I do not have the right to put them in jeopardy. And if the legal department of my employer knew I was writing this, they would "lose it." For these reasons, I feel it necessary to write anonymously and with some imprecision.
This fear of retribution, in and of itself, is a powerful statement about the sad conditions in which we live and do business in the United States.
So, here is the sanitized version of my story:
My employer makes very expensive pieces of equipment for use in an industry that has itself sustained undeserved attacks by our government and by unscrupulous so-called environmentalists.1
In any case, our pieces of equipment (let's call them tractors) use expensive components (let's call them engines) made and sold by Americans. The engines are used by American workers in multiple states and they make more energy available for Americans. That fact alone attracts the ire of some. But the fact that our service is very valuable and produces large profits makes the industry and the service an irresistible target.
This year, I learned that one agency of the federal government has created and is enforcing rules that strictly limit the types and numbers of engines we can buy to make our tractors. They limit how many of each type of engine we can buy in a year, and they limit the grand total we can buy. This is offensive for many reasons — not the least of which is that we would hire more people if we were allowed to make more tractors.
I could make an endless list of the unseen and damaging effects of their nonsense. But here is a short list:
Without these rules, we would hire more welders, assemblers, and accountants. This would result in the improvement of our local economy, because the new employees and their families would all need food, clothing, housing, entertainment, etc.
To keep up with our increased demand for the tractor engines we need, the engine manufacturers, their employees, and their families would benefit.
The companies to which we sell tractors would hire more operators. Their families and the places they shop at would benefit.
The companies who request our product would become more profitable, resulting in expansions, bonuses, etc.
And, last (and totally forgotten) are the American citizens. Each and every citizen would benefit from the larger supply of energy and the resultant lower prices.
Some people might say that it is good to limit the numbers of these engines in order to protect the environment. But that argument only holds water long enough for a ten-second sound bite. The reality is that this destructive government agency also has rules that permit smaller versions of the same engines. What that means is that we would be permitted to create 50 tractors using the (approved) smaller engines instead of 20 using the larger ones. It is true that the larger engine pollutes more than the smaller one. But using the smaller engines would require more tractors to be built and more fuel to bring them to the job sites. In other words, using fewer tractors with the larger (evil) engines produces fewer net emissions than more tractors with the smaller (approved) engines would.
So, who is causing all this, and why are they doing it?
You can answer that question for yourself by discovering who benefits from the regulations. The list includes the politicians who use these issues to their advantage regardless of the truth. It includes the government bureaucrats who want more power to justify their own salaries and positions. It also includes reporters who can't wait for the next "breaking news" about an "environmental threat," or "dire emergency." And it includes university professors and other academic elites who come in to petition for huge government grants and to get paid to speak as "experts." The dark irony is that all these supposed protectors are really engaging in a self-serving round robin of deceit.
The truth is they are horrifically destructive to the prosperity and well-being of all Americans. But because their public faces hide the despicable truth, they have been able to get away with it.
Our only hope is to get these people out of business — literally and figuratively. I've got to be honest, though. It won't be easy. They are fighting for their livelihoods, too.
- 1. I could go into the multitude of proofs and facts that show that the environmentalist's claims are just wrong. But I won't waste my time except to make just two short points: (1) These are the same crackpots that are foisting the "global warming/cooling/change" nonsense on us. (2) And, even though we are characterized as being the equivalent of environmental devil worshipers, the people and companies in my industry don't just want a cleaner environment; we actually take action to make it happen. The charges of the so-called environmentalists are insulting and are simply wrong.