If you watch television or listen to radio, you are familiar with the disclaimers that follow pharmaceutical ads, automobile ads and banking commercials. The pharma spots include side effects and warnings about the impact of the drug. Automotive commercials inform you about the terms, down payments and warranty issues. The banking and occasional ads for investment services warn of minimum deposits and note which federal agency insures you from total loss. The disclaimers substitute for the multiple “whereas” clauses you might have in a contract if you decided to engage in one. They are intended to be cautionary and provide some measure of full disclosure. But do they?
To me the pharmaceutical commercials are particularly annoying. They use approximately 20 seconds extolling the wondrous aspects of the super drug then follow it with ten high-speed, barely discernible seconds of potential side effects and deadly outcomes. “Your headache will be gone, but your arms and legs will fall off.” Listening to them makes one wonder about the true value of medicated state today. Have we minimized the initial problems only to be plagued by a number of dangerous side effects? Is the trade off worth it? Our interactions with government operate in a similar manner. We may believe that we have an immediate solution to a pressing problem, but are the long term consequences ultimately more harmful than the original issue. When you invite the monster into the house, the monster takes over the household, eats all the food and defecates wherever he wishes. So when we take the government remedy, the side effects are huge.
The automobile solicitations create another type of disclaimer issue. The data are factual “a new car for $139.00 per month,” but the devil is in the details….$3500.00 cash or trade down for 72 months plus tax and title. Again we have a similarity to how our various levels of government operate. The sale….the sizzle…looks great and sounds great, but when the REAL cost is factored, we discover the government deal is not so hot after all. Government always sells us the benefits of a given program and never discloses the downside or actual cost over the long term. To continue our analogy….government begins to add new accessories to our car shortly after the sale is made thus adding to the cost. They fail, however, to tell us about the negative impact of the add-ons and the long-term ramifications of the additional costs.
The banking and investment disclaimer is a different type. It basically is targeted to assure you that if the bank or firms fails, the “government” insures the account holder. Think about it. Government regulates banks and brokerage houses. Government tells them how to operate and function. Government monitors them with strict reporting requirements. If they fail despite all the government involvement and oversight, the taxpayers will make the investors or depositors “whole.” Why? Is the insurance necessary because bankers and brokers are inherently corrupt? Is the insurance required because the extensive government regulatory structure is inept or incompetent? Why must the taxpayer be on the hook? Why not practice caveat emptor and allow the free market to reign?
Once again we have a circumstance wherein government requires the private sector and citizens to comply with obnoxious rules, regulations and laws that the government itself does not have to obey. Shouldn’t every proposed law include its constitutional justification plus it’s never ending list of potential side effects and consequences? Should not every rule, regulation and law have a realistic assessment of the actual costs incurred plus the costly impact on other sectors? If government is going to micro manage and regulate so many aspects of our lives, should not the taxpayer be held “faultless” if the government itself was responsible for fraud or failure?
Hey…I know I’m blowing smoke here. I know that our imperial government will NEVER accept responsibility for its actions and the resulting unintended consequences of its actions. I know government will never project the true cost of anything for two reasons: they are incapable of cost-factoring complexity and they cannot pass the noxious rule or law if the people are aware of the real cost. I also know that when government errs, we pay….and pay…..and pay. Unfortunately you and I know too much. When government is small (constitutionally small), its negative reach and impact is minimized. When government is small, projects and initiatives are more modest and more easily cost-factored. When government is small, it is the referee that protects the rulebook, but insists that the players assume their own risks. When government is small, the people prosper and freedom reigns.
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