Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Law Enacted in Michigan?

Five years ago in an article called "Atlas Shrugged:  From Fiction to Fact In 52 Years", Stephen Moore observed the disturbing similarities between the book written by Ayn Rand and the reality American politics.  In providing a bit of background for those unfamiliar with Rand's work, Mr. Moore offered the following synopsis:

"...For the uninitiated, the moral of the story is simply this: Politicians invariably respond to crises -- that in most cases they themselves created -- by spawning new government programs, laws and regulations. These, in turn, generate more havoc and poverty, which inspires the politicians to create more programs . . . and the downward spiral repeats itself until the productive sectors of the economy collapse under the collective weight of taxes and other burdens imposed in the name of fairness, equality and do-goodism.
In the book, these relentless wealth redistributionists and their programs are disparaged as "the looters and their laws." Every new act of government futility and stupidity carries with it a benevolent-sounding title. These include the "Anti-Greed Act" to redistribute income (sounds like Charlie Rangel's promises soak-the-rich tax bill) and the "Equalization of Opportunity Act" to prevent people from starting more than one business (to give other people a chance). My personal favorite, the "Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Act," aims to restrict cut-throat competition between firms and thus slow the wave of business bankruptcies. Why didn't Hank Paulson think of that?
These acts and edicts sound farcical, yes, but no more so than the actual events in Washington,....Ultimately, "Atlas Shrugged" is a celebration of the entrepreneur, the risk taker and the cultivator of wealth through human intellect. Critics dismissed the novel as simple-minded, and even some of Rand's political admirers complained that she lacked compassion. Yet one pertinent warning resounds throughout the book: When profits and wealth and creativity are denigrated in society, they start to disappear -- leaving everyone the poorer."
Having read the book myself, I share Moore's affinity for the Anti Do-Eat-Dog Law and its ability to at once capture both the hubris and ignorance of most of the political class.  And today when I read an article titled, "Rick Snyder Drives Off the Road", I thought I had discovered a brand new incarnation of the law first described in Rand's 1957 classic.  The Wall Street Journal reported that the Michigan Governor had signed a law prohibiting Tesla Motors from selling its cars directly to consumers.  That is exactly how a Tesla Motors spokesperson described the situation, but Snyder apparently set the record straight in a letter to Michigan lawmakers that accompanied the signed bill which read in part, "This bill does not, as some have claimed, prevent auto manufacturers from selling automobiles directly to consumers at retail in Michigan – because this is already prohibited under Michigan law,"  It goes on to say that the new law essentially strengthens the existing law. Thanks for clearing that up governor.  We feel much better now.
By the way, it should be noted that Snyder is a Republican.  Also of note is that the bill passed the Michigan Senate 38-0 and the House 106 to 1.  
Ronald Reagan told us 50 years ago that it's wasn't about Left or Right, it was about up and down.  I sure hope the other governors figure out which way is up.


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