A nice illustration in the Guardian comments section of why it is so hard to cut regulation and/or public spending:
20 May 2010, 1:09PM
Some good ideas but vague to the point of meaningless. No real talk on taxation or when to cut and run from Afghanistan. The problem is they don’t seem to see the human consequences of their ideas. Take HIPs – 10,000 relied wholly or in part on HIPs for income. What are they going to do now? I agree that HIPs were a bad idea but just announcing that you are cancelling them …?
This is soft-headed bleeding-heart stupidity at its finest. Even though he acknowledges that the policy is a “bad idea”, apparently we can’t cancel them because people rely on them for their income: this is not a sensible guiding principle.
It is easy to use regulation to create jobs: the problem is that there are hidden costs and effects that destroy other jobs or make others worse off. If the government creates a rule tomorrow that anyone over 5 foot 10 has to be painted blue from head to toe, there may well be enhanced career prospects in the paint industry and the new government department created to monitor and enforce the policy. This does not negate the fact that the regulation is daft, unnecessary and draws resources from more productive to less productive areas of the economy. There are hidden costs to such regulations that have to be considered.
It is the height of folly to persist with a bad law or regulation purely because some people may rely on it for their income. Ultimately such laws reduce the overall productivity of the economy and general well-being of the populace. To take an extreme example, there were many in the antebellum United States who relied on the legal institution of slavery for their income; however, this did not stop the laws in question from being utterly wrong.
During the recent discussions regarding deficit reduction and public spending, I have noted this strange knee-jerk reaction among many on the left to anything that even hints at reducing jobs*, regardless of whether those jobs are productive, sustainable or inimical to overall job creation and economic growth.
The fault does not lie with those removing the regulation in this case but with the morons who introduced it and persisted with it in the face of reality.
Gráinne Gilmore summarises the HIPs farce as follows:
The whole debacle shows that the only thing worse than politicians not doing anything to resolve problems is politicians trying to fix problems that don’t exist.
However, given the general ability of politicians to remedy problems by creating worse ones, I would remove the word ‘not’ from her summation.
(* – Apart from those categories of jobs that guardianistas find morally repugnant e.g. investment bankers, pole dancers etc.)