23 Laws to Make the US a Socialist Utopia

An article from Business Insider details 23 laws from around the world that can be enacted in the U.S. to make it a better place to live. This could have been interesting, but naturally the writer has some sort of utopian vision in mind rather than one that is grounded in reality. Also, it failed to give any reasons to support why any of these laws would be make the U.S. a better place to live. More accurately, it details 23 laws from around the world that will turn the U.S. into a socialist nightmare.

For example, one law from Bhutan details how they have expanded “conventional Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measurements of wealth to include non-monetary factors like psychological well-being, community vitality, and environmental quality” and “Proposed policies in Bhutan must pass a GNH review similar to an Environmental Impact Statement in the US.” Forgive me, but all those non-monetary factors they list are utter nonsense. There is no real way to gauge these factors in any type of relevant context, so any survey they use is going to be completely arbitrary. There are no objective human values, only subjective values. Any attempt to measure these non-monetary values is futile. The only way to gauge subjective values is through prices, meaning monetary values. Furthermore, application of these non-monetary factors in this way, which they consider important, are sure to lead to lower overall wealth and standards of living. Wealth must be built by accumulation; it cannot be mandated by government decree. Standards of living and working can only be obtained after wealth has achieved a certain level. We cannot expect poor countries to implement rigorous environmental regulations that are extremely costly without first being wealthy enough to afford these luxuries.

Next the article details how “Germany’s Renewable Energy Act mandates that 80% of the country’s power will come from renewable sources by 2050.” Renewable energy is a fine initiative, but at what cost? Government initiatives to mandate renewable energy are only going to harm standards of living. If these initiatives were wise and cost effective, private industries would have no problem implementing them. If the technology is not currently cost effective, it isn’t good economic policy to force businesses to invest in it now. Over time, goods and services become more efficient and cheaper and we should wait until this happens so we don’t hinder ourselves in the mean time.

The article advocates GMO bans. “90% of American corn, soybeans, and cotton are currently grown from genetically modified organisms (GMO) and 70% of all American processed foods contain GMO ingredients,” it says. Shouldn’t this be an alarming indicator that GMO bans would hurt our standard of living immensely? It is clear from those statistics that GMO’s are the most cost-effective way of providing food to the greatest number of people. Shouldn’t this be what we are trying to achieve? GMO’s clearly improve access to cheap and affordable food so a ban on GMO’s will likely hurt the poor the most. It’s one thing to advocate not using certain methods or consuming certain products, but when it comes down to marginal decisions, it is better for a hungry poor person to eat some unhealthy product or some product that was made using an objectionable process than to eat nothing at all.

The article also advocates an Urban Agriculture law.  This law “makes it not just legal, but free to adapt unused, public land into food production plots.” This law is interesting, and I respect the innovative idea and this productive use of public land, however the problem with this law is that since the land being used is public domain, the absence of property rights presents a problem. Say you have an individual growing food on public land for his family, what is to stop another individual from taking the food grown by this person for their own use? Granted, I know nothing else about the law, maybe this is mitigated somehow, but it seems problematic to me.

In a piece advocating Cycling Laws, it states how “In the Netherlands, a bicycling ordinance requires children to take a written as well as a riding test, administered by the police at around age 10.” The first problem is that this means children who are developmentally challenged and have trouble reading and writing would be forcefully prevented from a recreational activity like riding a bike, which is reprehensible. Secondly it is difficult to comprehend how this would make any country a better place to live. This restriction is clearly odious and is typical of the ridiculous restrictions a nanny-state imposes. A child might not be the best bike rider, so what? If the child represents that much of a danger to himself or others on a bike any responsible parent would either give them more instruction or prevent them from riding. This falls under parental jurisdiction; the state has no business getting involved in areas like this. What’s next, rollerblading tests?

The article also advocates Compulsory Voting and Automatic Voter Registration. These laws are typical of worshipers of democracy. As I briefly exposited in a recent blog entry, democracy is a path to tyranny and we should be seeking to champion republicanism, not democracy. Also, of what benefit would compulsory voting be? Why should we encourage (force) someone who has no awareness of the issues or candidates to vote? We shouldn’t. And what about those people who seek to protest the candidates by not voting?

The article advocates laws on Parental Leave, Mandatory Paid vacation, and Flexible Work Hours, all of which could be consolidated into the header, “Ways to Make Businesses Less Profitable, Less Productive, More Inefficient and Deplete Capital.” In the piece advocating Flexible work hours, the article states that as a result of these laws, “Europeans now work only 80-85% as many hours as Americans.” But is this even desirable? Unless Europeans are 15-20% more efficient than Americans, it certainly isn’t. I think it’s safe to say Europeans’ average standard of living is lower than ours, so shouldn’t they be trying to work more to raise their standard of living? Working less certainly isn’t going to do that. Further, benefits like parental leave, mandatory paid vacation, etc. are indicative of wealthy nations that have achieved a standard of living that can sustain these benefits. As detailed above, standards of living cannot be mandated. They are not the sources of wealth, they are merely indicative of a wealthy society and result from the accumulation of wealth. As Ludwig von Mises said, “The difference between the less developed and the more developed nations is a function of time: the British started to save sooner than all other nations, and to accumulate capital and to invest it in business.”

I won’t even get into how the article advocates stricter gun laws and universal health care. To end on a positive note, the article did recommend decriminalization of marijuana. Touche.

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