• Government Gone Bad

      My column this week looks at the costs of government "solutions."

      Intuition tells us that government is in the problem-solving business, and so the more laws passed, the better off we are. The possibility that fewer laws could leave us better off is hard to grasp. Kids visiting Washington don't ask their congressmen, "What laws did you repeal?" It's always, "What did you pass?"

      And so they pass and pass -- a thousand pages of proposed new rules each week -- and for every rule, there's an unintended consequence, or several.

      Ann Jolis, who covers European labor issues for the WSJ, sees how well-intended work rules devastate economies:

      "The minimum guaranteed annual vacation in Europe is 20 days paid vacation a year. ... In France, it starts at 25 guaranteed days off. ... This summer, the European Court of Justice ... gave workers the right to a vacation do-over. ... You spend the last eight days of your vacation laid up with a sprained ankle ... eight days automatically go into your sick leave. ... You get a vacation do-over."

      Such benefits appeal to workers, who don't realize that the goodies come out of their wages. The unemployed don't realize that such rules deter employers from hiring them in the first place.

      In Italy, some work rules kick in once a company has more than 10 employees, so companies have an incentive not to hire an 11th employee. Businesses stay small. People stay unemployed.

      Politicians' good intentions go wrong.

      That's why I wrote "No, They Can't: Why Government Fails -- but Individuals Succeed."

      Both European central planners and liberal politicians in America are clueless about what really helps workers: a free economy.

      The rest of my column here.

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      NO THEY CAN'T