Thursday, August 30, 2012

National Republicans can't stop restrictions on business at local level

2012 Republican convention is filling my radio with rhetoric about a new era of jobs and prosperity from lifiting restrictions on business. Effective slogans to get crowds at the convention hall cheering, but this is not an easy task. Many of the restrictions on business are imposed at the local level. State, city and county governments. Also there are strong constituencies for keeping restrictions in place.

One example is the proposed coal port near Bellingham. A proposal to build a large coal port north of Bellingham for exporting coal to China. Constructing such a port would create well over 1,000 temporary construction jobs, though less perminent jobs operating the facility. Opposition to this proposal is fearce. Final decisions are most likely made at the county council level wich holds the responsibility for zoning such a facility. Also state Department of Ecology is involved. Other entities as well, but those are the main ones, from my understanding. This siting process will take years allowing for public input, environmental impact studies and so forth.

This kind of story is repeated in local regions all over the country where business expansions both large and small are proposed. We are in one anothers' back yards, so to speak and no one, short of a dictator, at the Federal level can really accomplish that much waving a magic wand to lift restrictions on business. Quite a few of those restrictions are there for good reason with large groups of citizens supporting them. It's just the nature of our society these days. Different from the 19th century when there was more elbow room for the "robber barons." Those were the days that libertarians often point to when lots of progress was made in society from the private sector. Progress is still happening today, but we face a totally different environment.

Here in Washington State, there is one initiative that can be seen as lifting a restriction. The proposal to legalize marajuana. Not only would that save encarceration and law enforcement costs, but it could also open up a new field of commerce selling pot, similar to the way alcohol is now regulated. That's one example of deregulation, but except for the Ron Paul libertarians, I haven't heard people discussing that at the Republican convention.

Deregulating business is another empty promise because it would be very hard to implement at the various levels of society where it occures.

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