Regulating Absolutely Everything

Two British policewomen are in trouble because they watch each other’s kids on a regular basis. The charge is “operating an illegal childminding business.”

Lest you think that this is only a British form of insantiy and such things could never happen in the United States…

A Michigan woman agreed to watch her neighbors’ children while they were waiting for the school bus, because the parents had to leave for work before the bus arrived. Now she faces the threat of fines and possible jail time for operating an illegal child care facility.

Both stories via Joanne Jacobs.

See also my previous Regulating Absolutely Everything posts.

9 thoughts on “Regulating Absolutely Everything”

  1. The position of the regulatory state is simple. The People (we) are independent productive units. We can work at licensed places of production where the exchange of money can be detoxified and taxed. Unplanned production is banned as a waste and as not officially adding to GDP.

    We can buy licensed objects and services with our after-tax income, to allow for proper charges and carbon offsets.

    Money is too dangerous and mysterious a material to exchange without supervision. Free exchanges are outlawed as avoiding tax through barter. Money is an object of the State and we use it at the permission of the state. (What is money, anyway?)

    The Department of Work and Production

    The average guy hasn’t seen government control close up, except for those in banking and auto manufacturing. Why can’t knowledgable, fact-based, systematic government oversight bring community and efficiency to everyone? (/sarcasm)

    A possible encounter of an ordinary guy with a government agency that is going to make his profession more efficient, by saving or increasing his salary.

    Joe: Will I still work for Acme International?

    Official: You will physically work there, or somewhere else where you are most needed, but your work standards and pay will be coordinated through your professional license. All accountants will now be federally licensed, for the security of the country and for efficiency. The high, hidden costs of accounting must be reduced if we are to prosper as a nation. I’m sure you agree.

    Joe: Well, I, uh . . .

    Official: Good. You will be pleased with the changes in your compensation. First, we are going to raise your salary 20% in the amount that you either save or receive.

    Joe: A 20% raise is great. What do you mean by “save or receive”?

  2. This is actually a pretty loathsome development, as far as working mothers goes. I remember very clearly that most of my own child-care arrangements when my daughter was a small child were of this nature. How very terribly heavy-handed this kind of interference is, slowly chipping away and making illegal any kind of independent effort to organize your own life.
    Nope, can’t have citizens displaying any kind of enterprise, any kind of spontaneous community. Nope, there is some officious busy-body representative of the nanny-state, marching in with a book of rules.

  3. Samizdata has had a thread about this for a day or so and I have already commented on this subject there, for anyone who is interested.

  4. Obviously, both these incidents clearly illustrate the idiocy of the lawmakers and civil servants involved. However, I find the different reactions from officials in the UK and US cases to be very interesting.

    In the British case, the officials involved sent an inspector around and threatened the women involved with “surveillance teams” to make sure that they stopped. For the most part, it seems that normal citizens are the only ones upset, while the bureaucrats are plowing ahead, fully intent on rationalizing and enforcing the absurd edict.

    That the UK officials appear don’t see the need to even appear concerned by the outrage suggests that England is well down the path to being a de-facto totalitarian state.

    In Michigan, however, the governor and the head of the agency involved seem to have good sense enough to be embarrassed by the incident (or at least the press coverage of it). There is much talk about how to change the relevant law and hints about a legal work-around for the mom involved. People who have the power to do something about it are responding in a manner consistent with political survival and, just maybe, a small amount of human decency.

    In the US, we are no longer governed, for the most part, with any particular regard to the actual wording of the US Constitution. However, the court of public opinion still serves as a backup to the proper legal protection of our rights. It’s not what it should be, but it’s something.

    Of course, if we ever find ourselves with a charismatic nation leader who can “sell” a significant number of Americans on the benefits of pervasive government control of our financial and private lives, then we may be well and truly done for.

    Uh oh…

  5. I swear! This country is turning into a theater of the absurd. I’m almost glad I only have a couple decades of life remaining.

    Could my unlicensed brother or uncle watch my children? How about my 3rd cousin twice removed?

  6. Before 1789, there was a large class of people who lived well off the general population in Europe-tax free.
    Of course we in the Liberal Democracies are much more enlightened. We at least force most of them to appear to work for their outlandish “bennies”,but that comes at a price:not content with leeching off us, they try to control how we run our lives.Nice deal,eh?

  7. Frank Norris novel, McTeague, turn of the century, a dentist “disbarred” when the state decides to license dentists and he was not so licensed. Another state intrusion upon free enterprise?

  8. On the British case, Philip Johnston’s article is very good:

    It has to do with the way legislation has been done in this country (on the few issues that are still in the hands of the British Parliament) for some years. Shoddy drafting, little proper debate in the Commons, quite a lot of revising in the Lords and the government pushing through idiotic laws. The funniest thing happens when one of their own gets caught as the Attorney-General did just recently.

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