Rules and Regulations Don’t Make things Better: Observations from RV travel

It is always a problem in corporate cultures, but we all have an instinct about all governments who believe that more rules and regulations are always better for a growing society.  Actually, its quite the opposite, what humanity needs is less rules and much more freedom.  This point has been very much the central theme of the 2020 election cycles which was on my mind recently while we were traveling on a family vacation through the mountains of Tennessee with our new RV.  Getting to know that RV involved several new skill sets that put fresh in my mind the nature of society and what is truly at the heart of human beings.  Traveling down the highway in our new RV took me about 300 to 400 miles to get used to, and as I was getting used to it I couldn’t help but see the parallels to our political and business society.  The story of our new RV is that I had been thinking of buying a big diesel hauler bus for a while to go on some of these big over road gunfights that I want to do across the country.  But the problem is, once you get there, unless you haul your car along with you, you don’t have a vehicle to drive around town.

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During the summer as we were opening our swimming pool we stopped by Couch’s RV Nation in Trenton for the heck of it and I fell in love with a travel trailer that could easily be pulled by our SUV that puts out just over 300 HP.  I thought that was great for a starting rig.  I still have in mind to get one of those big busses, which by the time I get it the way I want it, it will be a half million dollar set-up, which I’m not quite ready for.  So this travel trailer was just the right thing for me at this point in time.  It sleeps 8, does all the things I want out of the big rig, but at a fraction of the cost and road signature.  What surprised me in all this was that I could buy the RV which turned me into 30’ of road mass and I could do it all without some special license and bureaucratic nonsense.  The most troubling thing was getting stuck going to the BMV to get plates for it, which took all of a Saturday morning due to the long lines and coronaviruses’ nonsense.  Sure, I was a little nervous on this trip hooking everything up then hitting the road at 70 MPH in and out of traffic for hundreds and hundreds of miles.  Every bump that I hit I was worried that the hitch might pop off or that a tire might blow.  I was super conscious of every sway of the trailer and gust of wind that hit it.  It was very rough to deal with big simi trucks that were passing me and how they sucked in wind currents knocking the RV all over the place.  I kept wondering how any of this was legal, how there weren’t police inspections to make sure people hooked up these trailers correctly and how there weren’t special driving classes just to take something like this out on the road.  After all, people’s lives were at stake if I made a mistake with such a suddenly big vehicle swaying all over the highway. 

Even worse was that when you showed up at the campsites everyone sort of just did their thing.  There were so many things that could go wrong, yet there were no police around to make sure people did the right things.  There were no forms to fill out saying that I was well rested and in a good enough situation to drive, or that I hooked everything up correctly, including the sewage lines.  Everything was pretty much left to individual spirit to manage and people generally trusted that the RV operators knew what they were doing, even if someone like me was making it up as I went along.  Well, after about that 400th mile of work I was starting to feel very comfortable with this new RV rig and I was pulling in and out of gas stations easily without running into anybody.  It was easy to back into new campsites without any drama and get all the hookups aligned.  By the time we finished this latest RV trip I was glad I bought the current rig before investing a half million dollars in the bus and towing ability for the car.  I wanted to master all the skills of this current rig before stepping into that category, there was a joy in it that was very satisfying.  And by the time we were on our way home, I was weaving in and out of traffic on the highway in the mountains caught between big tractor trailers and cement walls at 75 MPH and nobody was crashing into each other, remarkably. 

And that’s where it hit me, it was Adam Smith’s invisible hand.  Sure sometimes people crash and people get killed, but mostly, everyone on the highway with big fancy rigs, or just family SUVs combined with 50 year-old pickup trucks hauling lawnmowers and chickens manage to drive around on our nation’s highway system without a lot of formal training or crazy rules that slow everyone down, because it is in their own best interests to not crash into each other, and to get where they want to go without dying.  With all the different kinds of cars on the highway, with people of all different skill levels, people generally learn fast and act out of their own self interest to get where they are going.  Even if a driver has been on the road for 50 years, or there is someone like me who is hauling around a new rig RV who has never towed one before.  The need for freedom of action forced everyone to learn the skills needed for the task quickly and everyone worked out without a lot of government interference.  In most places the government mandated speed limit was 65 yet people went over it because the government is just too slow to even come up with such a thing.  The speed limit is more of a guideline than a limit and people generally get where they are going safely.  The percentages of failure are even smaller than Covid-19 deaths considering all the variables on a long road trip.  People are amazingly resourceful when given the opportunity to be so. 

That says a lot about the Trump economy, or a local business trying to make themselves profitable in a competitive environment.  If people are motivated by their own self-interests, we don’t need a lot of rules and regulations to encumber their behavior.  And ultimately that is what I loved about RVing, there are lots of things to be concerned about, but people generally do the right things because they are free to act in their own self-interest.  I noticed that most at a dump station in Pigeon Forge where people could have easily left messes for the next person, but they didn’t out of a courtesy similar to drivers on a highway.  They don’t want to have someone run into them, or to leave a mess to clean up, so they don’t behave in such a way.   Most places in the world would have a tightly controlled industry in the RV travel market, but in America, there is an assumption that people will do the right thing out of self-interest, not out of fear of compliance from some state official. And that right there says a lot about the nature of all politics and enterprise.  Something that we could all learn a lot more from. Tighter rules and regulations do not make for a better culture.  Often, it gives us quite the opposite.

Cliffhanger the Overmanwarrior

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