Guest Post: The Cost of Compliance, Replacement, and Opportunity

Today finds us with another guest post by River. My apologies for it not going up sooner, but at least it is now up.

I’m going to talk about three terms, all of which are used more in accounting and financial risk assessment than in everyday life. But they are useful when looking at everyday and political risk assessment, too: compliance costs, replacement costs, and opportunity costs.

Fiscally, a cost of compliance is the measure of how much compliance with a regulation or law adds to the cost of doing business. For instance, if you have to have a license to cut hair, the cost of that license is part of the cost of compliance. But that’s not the total. There’s the time you spend filling out the request, if you have to take a class, there’s the cost of the class itself, and then’s there’s lost opportunity cost—i.e. how much could you have been making cutting hair if you weren’t taking mandatory classes, filing papers, and dealing with the bureaucracy that demands all that.

We in the U.S. have accepted vast amounts of lost opportunity costs over the last hundred years or so, in the interests of just getting along. What we’ve received in return is arguably less security, fewer choices, and a grotesquely bloated government at every level.

The reason why the future looked so bright in the 1950s—flying cars! Exploitation of the Solar System!–was because we had every right to expect the pace of change to continue as it had been going. But the insidious income tax and ever-growing regulatory burden from unelected bureaucrats have worked their dark magic, sapping our national will, and creating at this point nearly impossibly heavy self-inflicted burdens.

Others have written about the utter lack of scientific support for the utility of masking to prevent virus transmission (not just COVID, but any virus), and indeed the support for the idea that masking is actively dangerous in many cases. But it’s not the science I want to discuss—it’s that habit of going along to get along that is being fostered by the federal and many state and local governments.

A blogger, whose name I’ve sadly forgotten now, put it very well recently—the habit of compliance is exactly what led to the “Good German” in Nazi Germany. We have history that is within living memory to show us this is what happens. Why? Is it possible to come to any conclusion other than we are being trained to comply with government orders that make no sense? And that we are being divided deliberately along those lines—people who will comply and those who refuse to?

But there is a moral cost of compliance, too. Every time we acquiesce to rules we know make no sense we lose a bit of our center, we lose our ability to argue for the things we know are right. We are aware we have no high ground from which to fight.

And what is being offered to replace the constitutional republic form of government that made America great? We know now that a socialist form is opening advocated for. We also know, from history, and as outlined so eloquently in The Road to Serfdom, that socialism inevitably morphs into totalitarianism, the victim of its own internal logic. Is that an acceptable replacement?

Similarly, the road to socialism goes through our cultural institutions: it requires the destruction of our Judeo-Christian traditions and belief structures, it requires the destruction of the nuclear family, and it requires the destruction of voluntary civic institutions. Until it was pointed out as damning, the destruction of the family was proudly listed as one of the goals of the national Black Lives Matters on its web page. Churches have been infiltrated and have replaced religious virtue for “woke” values. The undermining of civic institutions has been a result of lost opportunities—if your taxes are so high that a family requires two wage earners, we lose the time and energy that could otherwise be spent on activities of choice. And so many Americans chose to improve their communities!

These goals are not being hidden by the socialists controlling our tax dollars. But are the replacements they are positing better? I can’t see any measure—the most important of which is welfare of our children—that they are. The costs of complying with these demands is simply too high. We have to stop paying them.

Once again, my thanks to River for another excellent bite of food for thought.

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