As we know – because the progressives keep telling us so – America needs to be much more regulated. We’ve got to put a stop to all this free market nonsense. Elizabeth Warren tells us that Apple, Google and Facebook need to be much more tightly controlled by good and honest people like Liz Warren. Just leaving competitive markets to sort things out won’t work. We hear much the same story about Wall Street – we can’t leave them just to go make money, Heavens to Betsy no! – and Main Street – but what if real businesses did something we don’t like?
It is indeed true that some things need regulating over and above what markets alone will provide. Even, whisper it gently, that bureaucracies can, at times, be wealth and life enhancing for us. The thing is though there are also costs to such regulation. That is, we can’t just point at something going wrong and insist government fix it. Because government itself has a cost in things not done, things going wrong, even things done by government. It is only when the benefits of the fix are greater than the costs of the government that we should allow the bureaucrats to let rip. Or even the progressives to direct them to do so.
The poster child for this is California’s legal cannabis market. Leave aside whether it should be legal – there’s decent enough doubt about that decision. Instead let’s observe the manner in which it is being regulated.
We can’t say that California’s bureaucrats are badly paid. We also can’t say that there are too few of them. Nor has the bureaucracy, the governing system as a whole, been blindsided by that legalisation decision. It’s not even that there’s a great difficulty in what they’re trying to do. Many to most of those applying for licences have been growing for many years for the black market or the medical one. It’s just an issue of licensing – really, that’s it, send a licence to people. Then they can carry on doing as they have been with the added bonuses of being legal and paying tax.
So, can America’s most expensive and intrusive bureaucracy manage that? Register a group of people all lined up and begging to pay tax? To think they could would be to assume a basic competence. A basic competence which is nowhere in sight, not even dimly visible just over the horizon.
An estimated 10,000 marijuana growers could lose their licenses in the coming months if California lawmakers fail to pass a bill designed to grant them an extension,
The basic idea is that temporary licences were issued and that would give the bureaucracy time to catch up. They’ve not caught up, far from it, out of 6,900 applications by one estimate they’ve issued 4 provisional licences and 52 complete annual ones. The success rate is a rounding error that is.
And in a lovely twist no one can apply to extend, as an emergency, those expiring licences because the deadline for doing so has passed – passed while some still had a misplaced belief in the basic competence of the public servants.
If nothing is done, Carver said, “there will be dire consequences such as imminent market collapse of hundreds of businesses in the region and through the state.”
And all because an all embracing bureaucracy cannot issue pieces of paper.
As we noted recently there are problems difficult to solve even if we’re using all the bright people we can find and putting them to the task. Then there are those times we’re misguided enough to try to use government as the solution.
For a simple and basic truth is that the best argument against the progressive project to envelop in us in yet more government is simple observation of what government currently does and its efficiency at doing it. California can’t register people who desire to pay taxes on their production. We’re going to give them something difficult to deal with?