Thursday, December 02, 2010

Government Ad Absurdum

2,000 page bills that no one reads create problems big and small. We tend to focus on the big problems, such as the ObamaCare bill clearly driving up healthcare costs right out of the gates when its putative intention was the opposite. However, the little problems are no less debilitating to economic activity and, ultimately, our prosperity because they create dead weight loss that our economy must absorb. We all know about the consumer products safety law that was passed and signed by President Bush that was intended to address toxic levels of lead in childrens' toys (although no specific harm was ever alleged, I believe) but that ensnared all sorts of small businesses and has devolved into absurdity. Well, chalk up another inane, quixotic pet attempt to micro-manage the world - retails are having to fight a provision that requires them to certify that no minerals from war-torn central African countries are in their products. The reasoning goes something like this - the mining of certain minerals in certain African countries is sometimes controlled by bad guys and the money they make sometimes then funds bad things, like civil war and violent power struggles, and bad things happen to innocent people when this happens, like women getting raped (never mind that alot of the rape comes at the hands of the supposedly good people sent to stop the bad things), so companies like Wal-Mart and Target need to know if any of the hundreds of thousands of products they sell use minerals mined in certain countries despite the extreme difficulty of knowing this as said minerals are also mined all over the world. Of course, this brilliant, world-saving idea is contained in the financial reform bill that was supposed to address our recent financial crisis by keeping banks from trading certain financial products. Got it?


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