Beyond the Cusp

June 8, 2011

Helping Hand of Government Past, Present, and Future

The helping hand of government has a long, and some might say dark and destructive, history. One of the earliest stories of Government’s helping hands overreaching is from a folk tale about none other than Davy Crockett, the Congressional Representative of Tennessee’s 9th district and a conversation between him and a farmer named Horatio Bunce as Representative Crocket was out campaigning for reelection. In short, Davy Crockett had voted for a bill to provide $20,000.00 to be utilized to rebuild an area of Georgetown that had been destroyed in a fire making many citizens homeless with simply the clothes they were wearing. The fire also destroyed a restaurant that was a favorite of many members of Congress from both Houses. The farmer informed Mr. Crockett that though he had supported him before, he no longer could do so in good conscience. When pressed for the reason, the farmer replied that Representative Crockett had abused his power and sullied his honor by breaking his pledge to uphold the Constitution by voting to allot funds for the rebuilding of what were private properties, a power not granted to the Government by the Constitution. Were such to be the only sins against the Constitution in our times.

Let me try to list some of the most egregious examples of Government sticking its nose, fingers, and sometimes the entire hand where it had no business that I recall from my sixty years. One particularly expensive item, at least for me at that time, was a simple regulation that forced the States to require every motorist to insure their vehicle in order to get the car licensed. This was to do away with the problems of uninsured drivers. Well, surprise of surprises, once having car insurance became required by law, for reasons that are a mystery, not, insurance rates for car insurance nearly tripled over the next two years. It still did not eliminate uninsured drivers but it did add another charge on every insured driver’s policy, a “contribution” to the State uninsured drivers’ fund which was supposed to be used to cover those uninsured drivers this regulation supposedly made impossible. This was a case of please don’t do me any more favors. Of course, the Government did not heed my wishes and more fun and games were to come.

The next Government caused boondoggle eventually did work the way it was claimed it would. Unfortunately, I honestly believe it would have evolved without the not so invisible hand of Government. I’m talking about the breakup of Ma Bell. The Government decided that having one telephone company for the entire nation supplying service to everybody did not allow for competition and thus AT&T had to be making undeserved profits off the system. So, the Government divided up Ma Bell and gave us regional baby Bells and stipulated that though Ma Bell still owned the entire communications network’s hardware, it would be required to charge the same rate to competitors of the baby Bells showing no preference. This resulted in Ma Bell showing no preferences including towards maintaining the same bottom line profits. In order to meet the desired profit margin, Ma Bell presented fees for use of the network hardware that guaranteed their continued financial health. They were not about to allow the Government to prevent them their deserved profits. With now competing baby Bells having to duplicate many positions which were also manned by Ma Bell, phone rates increased. With time, and new hardware being developed and competing with the older network, eventually prices fell below previous levels. This development appeared, for the most part, to coincide with the explosion of many newer communications technologies, especially in the form of satellite communications. With this new technology taking the place of extensive land lines, new companies such as Hughes entered the communications market. Soon we had wireless phones and everything else that we accept as commonplace today. Communication is only dependent upon land lines in local markets, and then only as a choice competing with cell phones. The advances that necessitated and made available new names and companies vying for our communication dollars would have happened and made much of AT&T and IT&T land line technology obsolete without any assistance from Government.

Recently, Government seems to have decided that there should be absolutely no limit to their ability to be invasive in our lives. Examples of more recent government meddling includes low water toilets which do not function properly in much older homes with larger diameter drainage pipes, low water shower heads, and the newest and worst intrusion, low water and energy washing machines. Recent testing of the new lines of front loading washing machines find that where they are just adequate at removing simple dirt, they are downright pathetic at removing set in oils, ground in dirt, grass stains, grease stains and other stubborn stains. Recent ratings by Consumer Reports has shown that every make and model of the front loading washing machines, even the most expensive deluxe washing machines, perform significantly poorer quality than the most basic top loaders from ten to fifteen years ago. But the worst is the next Government energy saving regulation coming soon to your electronics and appliance stores near you.

We are about to leave the age of the incandescent light bulb and enter the brave new world of compact fluorescent lamp (CFLs). We have been assured by Government spokespeople, who else would it be, that these new light bulbs will last longer, be just as bright and easy on the eyes as the old incandescent bulbs; well, except for the barely noticeable flickering. But what about the things they haven’t told us, the drawbacks, and there are many. First, that barely noticeable flicker will give many folks a nasty headache, especially if they are trying to read from one of these new-fangled bulbs (mandatory sounding like an old fogey for those choosing to refute my comments). Almost every lampshade that was designed to fit by clamping on the nice rounded shape of an incandescent bulb will no longer work and that is most of my budget lamps around the house. Tests have shown that the CFL lights are not a true white light that we have all been accustomed to with the incandescent bulbs. And then there is the big one that they do not talk about. What happens if one of the compact fluorescent bulbs breaks? Do you realize that you cannot simply go get the broom and dustpan and sweep it all up and throw it into the trash? Oh no, that will be illegal. Should your toddler pull down a lamp by its cord or the dog knock over your pole lamp and some of these CFLs should break, you have to call a specialist to come and decontaminate your house, or at least that room. These CFLs contain a small amount of mercury, a highly toxic liquid at room temperature and partially gas and liquid inside these CFLs. When one breaks a hazmat team needs to be called to properly clean the environment of even the smallest amount of mercury. It will be illegal under EPA regulations to simply STS, as I like to call it, meaning sweep, toss, and shut up. So, break one of these, as I said before, new-fangled CFL bulbs and it is estimated that initially cost anywhere from $1,000.00 to $5,000.00, until sufficient people get trained. Even after there are sufficient numbers of trained people, since it will take special equipment and detection meters and a fair amount of time to properly dispose of your broken light bulb, it will never be all that affordable, and you have to call a “professional”, it’s the law! So, now those crazies who are stocking up on good old incandescent light bulbs might not be all that crazy after all. My solution is I will simply only buy rather expensive and rather unbreakable LED light bulbs. Nope, no CFLs in my house.

Beyond the Cusp

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: