Happy New Year! Oh, and by the way – here's another "unfunded mandate":
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Public school teachers, well as state and local bureaucrats, all seem to have no difficulty recognizing the basic unfairness of mandates imposed upon them from "on high" – yet without the necessary money or resources to implement them.
Well, welcome to the real world there, Fidel. Do-gooding has become a big business! In 2006, nonprofit foundations in America controlled some $550 billion in assets. Guess what? Every one of these foundations has an agenda.
Do-gooding, of course, is much different from philanthropy, which Americans (and American churches) engage in to an astonishing degree. In 2005, charitable giving by Americans stood at $248.5 billion. Of that figure, $88 billion was given to religious organizations.
As you ponder why life becomes more complex every time a new year rolls around, consider this: Do-gooding is the home of the original unfunded mandate. While those at the bottom of the bureaucratic pyramid frequently complain about all manner of unfunded directives from further up the bureaucratic food chain – they seem to ignore completely the effect such unfunded mandates have when applied to business and consumers.
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Consumers, you say? Yes, indeed. Do you drive a car? In many states you must have it tested for emission levels before you can license it. Does the state fund this mandate by refunding a portion of your taxes?
- There are fewer businesses to monitor for compliance
- They don't vote
- Business itself can be blamed for raising prices to pay for the unfunded mandate.
The bulk of these mandates don't originate with government itself. Rather, they come from an alarming number of professional do-gooder organizations.
These organizations are simply collections of like-minded people from various walks of life who agree on one thing: That (fill-in-the-blank) is the greatest evil facing the world.
All these groups share several common elements that make them a menace to society:
- Education and voluntary compliance is never good enough. A law must be passed and penalties assessed to violators.
- Little or no evidence exists for the group's claims, and that which does is heavily dependent on like-minded researchers running limited studies and drawing expansive conclusions.
- No sense of the cost-benefit ratio for mandating (fill-in-the-blank) is present.
- Political organizational skills are in inverse proportion to sound evidence.
- Lots of money comes from sympathizers who need a "moral" cause to justify their consuming-based existence.
- An all-or-nothing mentality besets the group. The Pareto principle – that you can get 80 percent of the benefit for 20 percent of the cost – is an anathema to them.
The cost of these ill-informed do-gooders has been immense. Why? Because business and consumers have simply outsourced products and services to Mexico, China and India (to mention just a few) where such do-gooder laws are few and far between.
The negative effects of do-gooding are cumulative. That is to say, every new round of do-gooding is added on top of the previous do-gooding. The business decision for coping with all this do-gooding goes something like this: "Let's see; I can make this thing-a-ma-jig domestically, and add 50, 100 or 300 percent to the cost to pay for regulatory compliance. Or I can outsource it with tiny, or nonexistent, regulatory compliance costs, a small bribe to the bureaucracy, and a third of U.S. labor costs. Hum, this is a tough decision ..."
And you think consumers don't do the same thing? "Gee, I really want one of these new thing-a-ma-jigs! This one is made in the U.S. and complies with all health, safety and environmental standards – and costs $100. This one from Wal-Mart is made in China, looks just like the American-made thing-a-ma-jig and costs $65. That's a tough choice ..."
Sure it is!
Lately, professional do-gooders have taken to citing Jesus in support of their cause (whatever it may be). It's a pity they don't like to read Jesus as much as they cite Him.
If they did, they would find that Jesus never once suggested a government mandate or funding for the same.
What Jesus did mandate was personal acts of charity, paid for from one's own pocket, and not seen or praised by the world.
For America's professional do-gooders, many of whom seek personal salvation through regulating the lives of others, that's an easy call. "For it's one, two, three strikes you're out at the old ball game!"