U.S. Economy Drops 0.7%: The cost of too many rules and regulations

Not surprising the U.S. economy contracted 0.7% in the first quarter of 2015. At least it wasn’t a surprise to those outside of the Beltway, and progressive cities of Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco. Everywhere else in the America they saw it coming. Only in the progressive quarters of the nation are the illusions of government tampering not glaringly evident. Unfortunately, most of the surviving newspapers of any merit are still located in those cities, and the reporters there seemed alarmed by the economic retreat into the negative numbers.

No matter where you go in America, there is a big problem. Work ethics are at an all time low. Employees expect higher wages than ever for doing the least amount of work. Yet their competency is dismal. It is actually shocking now when someone does what they are supposed to do in a task, as opposed to doing something incorrectly. Competency is in short supply. But that’s not the worst of it. Government regulations driven by slack-jawed attorneys have crippled American manufacturing methods with stifling rules that prevent common sense in creating productive goods and services. There seems to be this infinite belief that more rules imposed on businesses will not correlate into a lack of productivity. Most companies, even large ones these days will declare that they are late to a schedule because they don’t have the manpower to execute compliance toward all the rules they have to contend with. For most companies compliance to their industry is a majority of their occupational commitment.

Government has imposed itself into virtually every crack of every endeavor in the United States which has destroyed the creative process of producing GDP. The evidence of this trend is actually in our artistic endeavors culturally. After seeing the latest Avengers movie I came away disappointed. It was a pretty good movie, but it was of a quality that was nearly television from the 80s quality—which is saying that it wasn’t new, spectacular, or worthy of a big screen treatment. Sure the special effects were good, but the music, direction and overall plot wasn’t much different from a typical Dukes of Hazard episode. Aside from the new Star Wars movies coming out, the film industry looks to be in desperate trouble. Most of the big movies hitting the silver screen are 1980 retreads, Mad Max, Jurassic Park, Terminator, etc. In the 70s, 80s, and early 90s, a new movie seemed to come out every few weeks, many of which were memorable cultural benchmarks, like the Matrix, Twister, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and so on. But with all the talent and film schools out there, Hollywood is incapable of producing anything new. That is a huge problem.

The music industry is even worse. While at Kings Island recently I couldn’t help but notice that many of the young people were mouthing the words to songs that came out when I was a teenager, and heard while at that very same park. Also, the 80s Store was busy with people of all ages relishing all the great memorable aspects of the 1980s that they remember, or want to remember if they’re too young to have actually been there. The 80s Store features film memorabilia from E.T. to Ghostbusters, which is reportedly another retread coming to screens soon this time with women from Saturday Night Live instead of the original cast. I’ll go see it for fun, but do producers think they can recreate the magic of Ghostbusters just by changing women actors from men and stimulate a new audience? That’s part of the problem. The music they play in that store is a trip down memory lane. Back then every week was a new top 40 song and that went on for the entire decade. It was similar to the 1950 and early 60s where the music industry just hit it out of the ballpark with just about every song released. The art in the songs were about things people care about and reflected a culture of capitalism and freedom that was trying to find its way. There was an underlining sense of optimism in 80s music that was not heard in the late 90s or subsequent decades. The music of today is so hell-bent on political diatribes that the music goes out of fashion within a few months, not even years. Creatively our culture is in trouble, the people in it cannot produce original material, and those that can have been ostracized politically out of those progressive cities to preserve the ideology of those regions and our culture is suffering—clearly.

But those are just the symptoms; the cause is in the heavy-handed regulatory climate of our present government. During the 80s, Reagan gave people the impression that the sky was the limit and that the American dream was obtainable. For a lot of people, it was. For some it wasn’t, and for the undisciplined, they spiraled out of control due to indulgence in excess, whether it was money, drugs, or women. But at least there was a belief that anything could happen in America. The 1950s were similar, it was a post war-time, Americans had a good standard of living and businesses were booming. There was no lack of opportunity for those who wanted it as the world put itself back together after World War II. The music was reflective of the overall culture.

When I came out of Avengers: Age of Ultron movie I told my kids that our culture was headed for real trouble. The movie was average at best, and the filmmakers knew there were high expectations after the first movie did so well. Well, the Avenger movies aren’t a shiny penny anymore. There is a level of expectation that the public has and the franchise is slipping. I first noticed it during the latest Captain America movie, which was good-but not as great as it should have been.   With all the resources available from Disney, Age of Ultron was the best that they could do with a comic series that came out in the 60s and 70s? It should be expected that a movie like Frozen should come out every year instead of the occasional hit that it was. Again, with all the resources at Disney, that’s the best that they can do?

While watching Avengers II, the prescreening stuff was obsessed with progressive causes, such as the new ABC Family channel “Becoming Us,” which features a transgender family dealing with a dad who wants to become a woman. Really? Who thinks that thirty years from now in the Kings Island 2015 store that anybody is going to want to buy a t-shirt or hat with the logo “Becoming Us” on it? Progressives are more interested in being a change agent for an extreme minority rather than giving people what they really want in entertainment. Two or three more people might want to have a sex change operation because of “Becoming Us” but the vast majority of people will just tune out because the subject matter turns them off.

Then there is the ACLU case accusing Hollywood of hiring only men for big projects like Avengers instead of women. They ask questions like “why are all the directors of big blockbuster movies all men?” In fact Melissa Goodman, director of the L.G.B.T Gender and Reproductive Justice Project of the ACLU of Southern California said, “Women directors aren’t working on an even playing field and aren’t getting a fair opportunity to succeed.” Goodman doesn’t see the reality on the wall, she assumes that if a woman is cast in some below the line job or as a director that people will rush to the multiplex to see whatever they put up on the screen and it just doesn’t work that way. Transgender issues are not an issue. Boy George in the 80s had great success and people bought his music. But he wasn’t in everyone’s face about it every 15 minutes reminding people of his rights. He just made decent music that people wanted to hear. These days everything is about fairness and regulating an industry into making things fair. To that effect, in order to make something fair the good must give way to the bad, the strong to the weak, and the brilliant to the stupid, which of course waters down the end product in favor of stylish sentimentality. Yet the net result is a blasé commitment to the final product by a customer base indifferent to the consumer drive to participate.

The same ridiculous laws have migrated out of entertainment and into mainstream occupations. It is more important to government regulators to have a company hire minorities, women, or immigrants than the best people for a job who can make the best product. If companies don’t show an interest in bending to the will of government sentiment, then a government audit of some kind will come in for a shake down forcing the company to either shut down or pay extraordinary fines as a “payoff.” While all this is going on of course the company is less productive and not making whatever it’s supposed to be good at. The energy of the company is on compliance, not productivity.

Then of course comes the most intrusive element of all, taxation. There is a belief that a corporation should be willing to pay infinite amounts of tax just to operate within the United States. Well, that’s not how it works. Companies exists for one reason, to make money. Not to lose money. If they have to pay too much in taxes, they have to cover their margins somehow, and usually that means either relocating their business to a region that has low taxation—or they will just decide to shut down. There is no moral case for paying taxes to support government programs invented by politicians who know nothing about running a business. Companies will either not produce their product, or they’ll leave the country.

So when it’s wondered why there was a 0.7% drop in GDP during the first quarter of 2015, now you know why. Regulations are too intrusive, taxes are too high, and the political climate is more interested in all the wrong social issues than in actually making things people want. That has created a stifling atmosphere that is quickly evident in our arts, which directly translate over into our more productive sectors of society. Regulations and rules kill GDP. They do not enhance productivity, they hurt it, and in American society there are too many rules. That is why there is a retreat in productive output. Government has intruded itself into the affairs of the American people and the net result is less of what makes us good. Why is that so hard for progressives to understand? More rules don’t work in sports, why does anybody think they would work in business?

Rich Hoffman


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