Dear Mr. Berko: I own a small tool and die shop with 61 employees. Most people have no idea of the mountains of government (state and federal) regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Fair Employment Practices Agency and other agencies. There are rules for everything from health care to gender discrimination to toilet use. Last year, we paid the law firm that handles our corporate work $87,000 just to complete the paperwork certifying we’re in compliance with all these rules, edicts and regulations. And we paid our accounting firm $182,000 last year to prepare our tax returns, to handle our payroll, to handle our health insurance deductions, to make sure our pension plan complies with federal requirements and to distribute quarterly reports to each employee. Then every year, I have to renew my numerous city, county and state licenses and show we are in compliance with all regulations.
It’s getting worse every year. I fantasize about moving my company to Canada because sometimes I think we have the worst bureaucratic government in the world. I’m not looking for answers, but writing this letter has let me blow off steam. I feel better already. — GS, Detroit
Dear GS: Wow! Thanks for your well-composed, eye-opening three-page letter, which you ought to send to the editor of the newspaper in which you read my column.
Please recognize that numerous government agencies employ tens of thousands of Americans who provide essential paperwork for the government’s growing food chain. These regulations quietly feed obambulating bureaucracies that in 2014 cost consumers $1.88 trillion, or $15,000 per household. Get used to it! It will become hugely bigger in the coming decades. Forget about Canada — a regulatory hell that would drive your brain bonkers bigly.
Accept the fact that government will continue to grow and become increasingly involved in our personal and business lives. It’s the unannounced goal of government to control as many resources as possible and to continue expanding — with Social Security, education, farm subsidies, Medicare, Medicaid, food programs, mineral and drilling rights, retail and investment banking, public housing, retirement accounts, interest rates et al. — its supervision and its role in our lives. The government believes that it can allocate these resources more effectively and fairly than you can. And sometimes it does! However, many Americans (including me) object to our metamorphosis, and as we slowly segue into a nanny state, capitalism has begun failing most Americans. Like it or not, it’s happening and it’s the future — not ours but the future of our children.
It’s a very simple concept. By relieving citizens of many responsibilities, the government will cause Americans to look toward it for the comfort and care they won’t be able to provide for themselves. Some members of Congress (Bernie Sanders and toadies) have floated the idea of a guaranteed government-paid income for everyone. It may happen in a generation or two. Some Americans might disagree and object to the government’s growing participation in our lives. But we must recognize that an increasingly larger number of Americans are having difficulty earning a living, making their mortgage payments, paying their health care costs, saving for retirement, paying their auto loans, paying for college tuition, paying their utility bills, settling payday advances and putting food on their tables. They need help, and folks like us haven’t stepped up to the plate in sufficient numbers to help. Like it or not, because these folks are American citizens, we recognize their “unalienable rights.” And as Thomas Jefferson wrote, “to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” That may sound hokey, but it’s the foundation of what was America’s greatness — and what some say will be its eventual demise.
Many criticize the government, claiming we have the worst government in the industrialized world. We may, but it’s the best worst government in the world. The governments of Europe, South America and Asia make America’s government look like a model of efficiency. Winston Churchill said it best: “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of its blessings. The inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of its miseries.” Because there are so many uninformed voters, you get the politicians they deserve.
Please address your financial questions to Malcolm Berko, P.O. Box 8303, Largo, FL 33775, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Malcolm Berko and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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