Friday, August 23, 2013

Even "Good" Laws Harm You

Most people think that there is a purpose for having a government.  Most people also think that their government does some good.  Even libertarians think that some government should exist.

But all that government does is funded, one way or another, by first taking from those who produce things and then spending it as they feel like it.

And while that's not pointed out or criticized nearly enough, the point of this post is to explain that even when the government extorts taxes for its funds and then spends them in ways you think are good, it is still hurting, rather than helping you.

There are two ways the government hurts you with "good laws," by forcing you to pay for them, and by preventing you from being as productive as possible.

Let's look at the example of owning a car and the amount of your time that is wasted by the government.

Let's say you buy a car, after paying the government its cut, you need to buy a car license; that's about a half hour of your time spent getting one.  Then you need a new driver's license every ten years; that took me three hours a few months ago, and that comes out to around 1/3 of an hour a year.  Some of us are required to have our car's emissions checked yearly, that'll take me another two hours per year, plus another hour, and some money for an o2 sensor because mine always go bad.  Then you need to get car insurance, which will also take several hours.

Maybe you think requiring all of those things, drivers licenses, car licenses, emissions, etc, is a good thing.  Perhaps it is, but have you ever seen a study comparing the time wasted to the alleged benefits of having these laws?

A thought experiment for you:  Speed limits supposedly save lives.  Since saving lives is good, we want to do whatever saves the most lives, right? 

Speed limits are arbitrarily set.  If they were set, say, 10 mph higher everywhere, we could get from place to place a bit quicker.  If you drove 10 mph quicker to, and from, work each day, you might save 5 minutes per trip.  5 minutes per trip, times 2 trips per day, and 5 days a week, means that a 10 mph increase in the speed limits would mean you have 50 more minutes per week to be productive.  50 minutes per week times 50 weeks in a year equals, about, 42 hours wasted commuting each year because of speed limits.  42 hours per year times 40 years of working equals about 70 extra days of your life spent commuting merely because speed limits are not 10 mph higher.

That might be a fine rational for you.  Spend 70 more days of your life commuting than necessary, and a few lives might be saved. 

But everyone is slowed with our current laws.  1000 people slowed by speed limits at 70 days per year is 70,000 days per year not spent growing food, sewing clothes, inventing medicines, or other wise producing.  How many lives were lost thanks to this law? 

When we hit the point where the days lost to slow speeds exceeds the lives allegedly saved by the speed limits, shouldn't we reconsider them?

Have you ever even heard of a study comparing the lives lost becasue of a specific law compared to the alleged lives saved?

No one ever considers the hidden costs, we only look at the numbers of deaths each year and wish we could do better.

And we still haven't gotten to the fact that the traffic judge, prosecutor, cops, secretaries, etc, the materials, buildings, and cars they all use are not creating food to eat, clothes to wear, or homes to live in.  Each of those lives and resources is unproductive, and therefore wasteful.

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