Lately, I’ve seen a few articles like this one in Bloomberg today discussing the annoyance of the US Chamber of Commerce regarding the Tea Party’s influence over the GOP that has so far resulted in heated budget debates over the last few years, a budget stalemate and government shutdown earlier this month salted through various media organization. According to this particular article, the small business organization plans to donate millions of dollars to candidates of their choice to face off with those of the Tea Party.
It’s interesting that the US Chamber of Commerce has enjoyed a special relationship with the Tea Party since it rose to prominence, with Tea Partiers considering entrepreneurship as a main pillar society, and now has decided to take matters into its own hands. The interesting part is that when I was involved in Tea Party events there were many small business owners present, leading me to believe that perhaps the USCC is merely the latest battle ground for the heart and soul of the GOP.
After having distanced myself from the acrimony and the GOP itself, I’m feeling a bit amused as the philosophical fault lines between the notion of what’s good for business and the budget hawkishness of the Tea Party in addition to what seems to be an ideal of limited government in the commercial sense become stressed. A sort of coming to Jesus moment for the USCC was likely predictable because it is impossible to have it both ways – the impact of graft on competition and government that keeps its nose out of commerce.
I can’t help but be sympathetic toward the Tea Party on this issue (without endorsing its unwillingness to build consensus). There seems to be a flavor too many things being done for particular businesses that stifle competition and do not promote the General Welfare in an economic and commercial sense. Of course no one wants to have done all the things necessary to effect influence in one’s favor and then be shown the door, so to speak.
I recall a story about an independent motor carrier being shut down by the Department of Transportation after having an accident a few years back. I was interested in this story because I had watched public testimony at a House Transportation Committee meeting regarding regulatory matters just after the Republicans had retaken the House. I was shocked to see that there was virtually no change in behavior as representatives for large, affiliated carriers were able to secure even more regulatory barriers to entry over the pleas of independents. And regarding this story, I was horrified that the DOT moved in a state licensed, insured and inspected carrier, padlocking the gates and confiscating the busses without a warrant, a hearing or due process while the same thing never occurs when larger carriers are involved in similar accidents.
There is nowhere in this country where an average person can obtain a bus and the appropriate license and start selling tickets for tours without being subjected to this kind of treatment. And this is only one example of long running abuses of the regulatory function of government.
Others that have far more impact are the regulatory burdens involved in converting existing gasoline-powered vehicles to CNG or even attempting to manufacture an automobile that is powered by CNG. The effects are a soft ban on the technology by making it cost prohibitive – making us all slaves to gasoline.
It’s stuff like this that has got to change or we will be continually paying far more for things necessary and be subjected to the vulnerabilities of unintended consequences – like high gas prices that get mistaken for something the monetary authority should be dealing with. It’s complete madness.