American Elephants

Government Does Not Do New Ideas and Fresh Thinking! by The Elephant's Child

Late last month, Smithsonian introduced a “Department of Innovation” blog.

Seems a long time ago, but it was only back in January when Barack Obama told us that America had reached a “Sputnik moment.” He was referring to the competition with China to be the Big Dog of the 21st century global economy, but the subtext was that the country needs an attitude adjustment, that we need to start channeling Silicon Valley, a place where people may pledge to “Do no evil” but the true religion is innovation.

It made for one fine sound bite. But it hasn’t exactly inspired a bunch of innovation rallies and bake sales. So in the spirit of banging the drum for new ideas and fresh thinking, this blog will track all things innovative, not just in science and technology, but also in how we live, how we learn, how we entertain ourselves.

They started right off with a splendid logo of 19th Century technology (which they have subsequently fixed) of unworkable gears. The “sputnik moment” means taxpayer-funded corporate welfare to pursue the president’s bright ideas.  Innovation is simply not something that is done by government.  Government, by its very nature, kills innovation.

We have innumerable examples in the education system, where the more money the government plows in, the worse the schools get. And Obama’s pet “green jobs” projects are a shining example of top-down planning uninformed by market realities.  Millions in federal loan guarantees went to businesses that could not find private financing because their operations were not commercially viable.

Innovation is a product of free people and free markets. Every layer of management, layer of bureaucracy, approvals, regulations, permits, licenses, every excess finger in the pie is an innovation killer.  How many brilliant ideas never come to fruition because of the layers of bureaucracy standing in the way?

Innovation occurs in an individual mind, and a society that does not value the free individual does not innovate.

Regulators Gone Wild, Destroying Small-Business Profits! by The Elephant's Child
August 14, 2011, 7:13 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Law, Statism | Tags: , ,

People in business, in the private economy, complain about the effect of excess regulation and how it is damaging their businesses.  Here is a wonderful illustration of a nanny state regulation designed to solve a problem that isn’t really a problem.

With all the chatter about obesity in America, the nannies, naturally, want to do something about it, but what?  Force everyone to exercise? Make some products like Big Macs (always mentioned as a leading cause) illegal?  They settled on Section 4205 of the national health care law (PPACA)— “Nutritional Labeling of Standard Menu Items at Chain Restaurants.” As Nancy Pelosi said, “we have to pass the law to find our what’s in it.”

So it takes time just to read the law and grasp just what it requires.  This is another  telling  example of the sweeping regulations imposed without understanding  just what they will mean in the marketplace. They never think things through, never understand unintended consequences, nor look at evidence in the real world.  They just fall for an idea.

The law specifies that the number of calories in a food product must be printed directly next to the item on the menu. Many fast food chain restaurants have their menus on large, already crowded signs, rather than ordinary paper menus.

There are more than 34 million ways to order a Domino’s pizza. Because of President Obama’s health care law, the chain’s franchisees may have to spend more than $5 million trying to squeeze calorie data next to every one of their menu items. Their website already provides nutritional information for people who order online or by phone. The stores have pamphlets for customers who request that information.

I believe I have seen studies that show that people don’t pay any attention to nutritional information in that venue at all.  Even if Domino’s complied with all the new rules, the only way they could fit calorie information on the menu signs is to provide broad ranges.  A large “Feast” pizza cold range from 1,840 calories to 3,740 calories depending on choices of 4 different crust types and 6 different varieties. A slice of a large deep dish pizza contains 420 calories and there are eight slices in a pie. Did they think the customer would stand there subtracting olives, subtracting cheese, working their pocket calculator?  Good grief, it’s pizza!  People know they’re splurging.

If a franchisee wanted to introduce a new item, he’s have to replace all the signs in all of his stores. That’s a big chunk out of the profits, and a lot fewer employees.

So there you are — the excitement of being able to tell other people what to do. There’s a cost to thinking that you’re smarter than everyone else.

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