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The Government’s response to the Harvey floods: Do anti-gouging laws kill?

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While the magnitude of the epic flooding in southeastern Texas from Hurricane Harvey is only beginning to emerge, and is likely to get much worse over the next few days, it is not too early to consider with apprehension the responses by government at all levels.

Ronald Reagan taught us that perhaps nothing was more dangerous than the government official who said: “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

Will the authorities, at all levels, impose draconian “relief” measures? Will they ration various commodities like potable water? Or gasoline? Or even confiscate goods?

Recently, in 2012, the New Jersey coast and New York City suffered some of the worst flooding in years from the storm surge from Hurricane Sandy. (That was the storm which led to President Obama and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie having that infamous arms-embracing stroll on the beach, only days before the presidential election.) The response from the blue-state, government-power-loving authorities was gasoline rationing which made gas shortages worse, the lines longer and general hardship even deeper.

From personal observation, it appears that rationing does little to reduce overall demand, the impulse to hoard, or the gross inefficiency caused by waiting hours for gas.

The logical first reaction is to get a full refill in order to wring as much inefficiency from the wait time. It may, over time, reduce the amount people drive — as social engineers rejoice! — because some people will weigh the costs and benefits of any car usage against the ultimate inconvenience of a wait.

But what of people in the suburbs or rural areas, or people whose job necessitates driving around? How much economic activity is lost — never to be regained? (Note that commercial vehicles are generally exempt, but many independent contractors drive personal, noncommercial vehicles for business use and are quite vulnerable to any rationing games).

Also consider whether such disasters and sure-to-be embellished shortages will be used by the environmental or behavioral zealots whose fingers are on the levers of government power, as “teachable moments.”

As in: disasters are always a good excuse to teach a certain group a “lesson.”

Commodity rationing in times of disaster has costs. Assuming the absence of nefarious reasons to cause, permit or delay alleviating a shortage, let’s look at the immediate and easily recognizable costs of lost time, the related inefficiency, and a seriously degraded lifestyle.

There are downstream economic costs. A business owner who spends 70 hours, up from 60 hours a week, to make the same net income will either pass that cost down to consumers, or cut back on other expenses. The expectation (or objective) that the owner will willingly sacrifice his most precious commodity — his time — for the public good is both naive and, frankly, contemptuous.

Somewhere, someone will lose his or her job when owners cut back due to revenue declines or physical fatigue, or even demoralization at continued government policies that reduce or eliminate the marginal benefit of added work. This is a perfectly rational decision. Other businesses will pass on costs, and the price increases or declines in service quality, quantity or variety of offered goods and services will reduce the savings or standard of living of downstream consumers.

Somewhere, somehow, the price is going to be paid. But there are more problems.

A typical government response is an anti-gouging law. is intended to protect the consumer from presumed exploitation by a business owner who raises prices at all following a natural disaster or other emergency event. But the government presumption that businesses and their owners are exploiters leads to further, unintended — and unproductive and harmful — consequences.

The government scrutiny fuels (no pun intended) the public perception that gas retailers are greedy and somehow profiting unfairly. This encourages the consumer to cheat the gas station owner, run out on the bill, cut the line, and so on. The rule of law, based on the larger cultural value of a shared sense of fairness, will deteriorate further.

In a society where our former President Obama shamed Americans to “pay their fair share” and where First Lady Michelle Obama remarked during the 2008 campaign that some had to do with less so that others could have a little more, government policies which inflict hardship or create a sense of injustice threaten to produce more lawbreaking and antisocial behavior, not less. The danger is that more and more people will feel that they are being robbed. The result? A degrading in behavior, from harsher reactions, to reduced sympathy, to a heightened moral rationalization for greed, to less hesitancy to pass on costs or to simply withhold benefits from others just because one can.

You can imagine charitable contributions and investments drying up, in both an economic and emotional reaction. We will have hoarding, not merely of gasoline but of almost any asset or resource.

Command and control economic policies spark an uncontrollable chain reaction of misery. The solution is not to fight people, or their demand. A real solution is to open up supply. Let gas station owners and other businesspeople charge whatever they want. Those who abuse consumers will soon pay a heavy price when they are shunned by their former customers. This will encourage gas station owners to stay in business, wholesalers to deliver gas, and refineries to get back in business.

Areas hit by disasters will not experience any recovery or economic revival when their governments act like the savage bikers out of the dystopian, post-apocalyptic movie “The Road Warrior.” Elected leaders should use their authority to work on supply preservation and supply chain problems, and on intergovernmental relations among various authorities to preserve basic public order and infrastructure. These are some of the simplest, and core, functions of government. Governments must serve their people, not treat them like the enemy for the sin of wanting to drive. Otherwise, we may see a new form of “road rage.”

Culture and Religion

Katherine Timpf on fighting political correctness

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Katherine Timpf on fighting political correctness

National Review reporter and Fox News contributor Katherine Timpf often discusses political correctness. She talks about it so often that one might think it’s a subject she enjoys, but in reality it’s simply a problem she passionately wants to solve.

In American society, it is way too easy to offend. People do not want to hear that their perspectives are wrong. That’s apparently some form of violence. They don’t want to hear an opposing viewpoint. That’s allegedly a form of oppression. Many on the left feel entitled to express their opinions in any way they see fit and also to prevent others from sharing their opinions if there’s a difference in worldviews.

The hypocrisy of political correctness is thick.

As Timpf recently pointed out on National Review, it’s a problem that doesn’t have an easy solution, but trends are pointing to positive movement against the specter of political correctness.

Political Correctness: Study Finds 80 Percent of Americans Think It’s a Problem

https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/10/political-correctness-problem-according-to-80-percent-of-people/I could go on for pages and pages, but you get the point: Writing about political correctness sometimes makes me feel as if everyone has gone mad, and I’m very glad to see that this doesn’t seem to be the case. Instead, a strong majority of people apparently agrees with me. A strong majority believes that political correctness has gone too far, and probably would agree that we need to be careful to protect our ability to speak freely in this country.

That’s certainly encouraging, but it still doesn’t make me feel entirely better. After all, the small, PC-obsessed mob can sometimes be very powerful. Once it decides that someone or something is racist or sexist, that conclusion can carry a lot of weight. It can ruin careers and lives. It can remove perfectly good, innocuous words from acceptable speech, because even the people who might not see a problem with those words don’t want to risk being accused of racism or sexism for using them. The only answer is to keep fighting, to keep exposing and mocking such overreach when it occurs — and to take solace in the fact that so many people have awoken to its dangers.

Keep fighting the good fight, Ms. Timpf.

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Entertainment and Sports

Man who identifies as transgender woman wins Cycling World Championships

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Man who identifies as transgender woman wins Cycling World Championships

Rachel McKinnon. a transgender woman who was born male and possesses all the physical advantages of a man, won the 2018 UCI Masters Track Cycling World Championships in Los Angeles. It’s the latest event that draws questions about the fairness of biological males competing in female events.

Despite outcry by biological females and men alike, it is being billed by some as a victory for the LGBTQ community and transgender men or women around the world. Critics point out that biological males have an unfair advantage over biological females when it comes to activities that require physical strength, speed, or endurance. That doesn’t seem to deter those competing in these events.

Biological Male Wins World Championship Event in Women’s Cycling

https://www.dailysignal.com/2018/10/14/biological-male-wins-world-championship-event-in-womens-cycling/McKinnon celebrated the victory on Twitter, writing: “First transgender woman world champion … ever.” Later, the professor responded to criticism from “transphobic bigots” by tweeting:

Allowing biological males who identify as transgender women to compete in women’s athletic events has been a controversial subject, as critics argue that it puts female competitors at an inherent disadvantage.

My Take

Unlike some of my colleagues, I have no problem with transgenderism. What I have a problem with is the unfairness of women’s competitive sports being infiltrated by those who have clear and scientifically demonstrable biological advantages over their competitors.

If performance enhancing drugs are frowned upon in sports, what could be more performance-enhancing than growing up with the musculature and hormone advantage of a man, then competing in women’s sports?

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Opinions

Republicans need Mia Love because she isn’t scared to call out the President

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There are three types of Republicans on Capitol Hill. There are the avid supporters, whether of the President himself or of his agenda. There are the haters, most of whom have decided to not run for reelection or have kept a low profile. Then, there are people like Representative Mia Love (R-UT) who supports the President’s agenda while still being willing to call him out.

She’s the type of representative Republicans need in DC if they’re going to stay credible and achieve what they set out to accomplish after President Trump won the White House.

Every President has sheep on Capitol Hill. That’s not intended to denigrate them; belief in the man or his agenda will yield an unquestioning regard towards him, as it should. Every President will have detractors. It’s the conscientious few who take everything case-by-case before deciding whether to agree or not that gives a government the stability it needs. Without them, a party can fall too closely in line with pieces of the agenda or actions by the man himself that they normally wouldn’t follow, but fear of repercussions make them do it anyway.

An example of this was the “s–thole countries” comment the President allegedly made regarding certain third-world nations. It’s the type of phrase he would use based upon his history and in context it makes sense. Multiple people claimed to have witnessed him saying it, so despite his denials, reports were almost certainly accurate.

Love called him out.

GOP Rep. Mia Love Slams Trump’s ‘Shithole Countries’ Comment

http://time.com/5100217/mia-love-donald-trump-shithole-remark/“The President’ comments are unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation’s values. This behavior is unacceptable from the leader of our nation. My parents came from one of those countries but proudly took an oath of allegiance to the United States and took on the responsibilities of everything that being a citizen comes with,” Love said in a statement on Thursday.

“They never took a thing from our federal government. They worked hard, paid taxes, and rose from nothing to take care of and provide opportunities for their children. They taught their children to do the same. That’s the American Dream,” the statement continued. “The President must apologize to both the American people and the nations he so wantonly maligned.”

Some would not give her much credit for the statement since it was her heritage that was allegedly attacked by President Trump, but she could just as easily said she believes he didn’t say it. She took a stand against her own party and her own President. That type of courage deserves to be rewarded.

Currently, she’s the only black Republican woman in Congress. Losing her would serve to confirm allegations that the GOP is a racist patriarchy. The people of Salt Lake City need to give her another term.

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