Saturday, December 31, 2011

A letter to Consumer Reports

Here's a letter to Consumer Reports Magazine:

I’ve long been a fan of your magazine, enjoying the unbiased advice you give on thousands of products each year.  However, I’ve come to loathe your increasing affinity of government regulation over consumer products.  While it may be true that a small number of consumers are harmed by less-than-honest companies, consumers also suffer harm when government intervenes in the market place.  And while you vigorously invite more regulation, you fail to report on the harm that that same regulation inflicts on consumers in the form of higher prices and less choice. 

Consumers should be free to express their preference in the market place by entering into mutually beneficial exchange with others.  Only consumers, who have intimate knowledge of their needs and wants, should determine if a product or service survives, not unelected government bureaucrats.  While some regulation is necessary to ensure a level playing field, your magazine advocates too loudly for big government.  What’s needed is less regulation and more information.

In a perfect world, government would not prevent producers from bringing their products and services to market, nor would it prevent consumers from purchasing those same products and services.  In this perfect world, consumers would become savvy buyers and organizations like yours would provide a vital service supplying the market with much needed information.  Today’s technology makes it relatively easy to quickly and efficiently acquire information regarding a products pros and cons.   In this perfect world, consumers would benefit hugely from the overwhelming variety of products and services, and producers would be kept in check not only through information provided by your organization, but also by the market discipline - make a bad product, and face bankruptcy.

Government regulation exacts a hefty toll on consumers and the overall economy, and quite often fails to accomplish its “good” intentions.  And while I don’t expect you to begin embracing free market principles, you could at least inform consumers of the oft unintended consequences of government regulation.

Brad D.

New Year - no resolutions

The new year is symbolic of new beginnings. Out with the old year - all the mistakes, disappointments, and frustrations. But, also out with the triumphs and glories. The past is the past, and there it will stay. The new year, the future, is here, and people are excited. All kinds of people make New Year's resolutions, like getting into shape, changing jobs, reuniting with lost friends or family, and so forth. Some resolutions stick, others don't. A key to finding a resolution that sticks is to carefully think through the resolution ahead of time - don't make rash, emotional decisions that are life changing. You won't be able to stick with it.

That's why I avoid resolutions around New Year's. Too fraught with peril, and in fact it's become a cliche so people don't take the resolutions seriously. Thus, if you need external help with your resolution, it's harder to obtain it around New Year's because people don't think it's a serious commitment.

What I think New Year's is good for is taking stock of the past year. Think through all the stuff that happened, and what your actions and responses were. Think about what works and what doesn't, and what you want out of life. If you are living the life you want, congratulations! Keep it up! Maybe think of tweaks to improve your life.

If you aren't living the life you want, now's the time to start thinking and making plans about how to change. Don't be drastic, or rash. Don't think you'll fix everything in a few quick moves. You have to start with a plan, and think carefully about what it is you want, and how it will affect the people around you. I recommend you begin here and follow the instructions laid out there.

Best of the season to all, and may you have a blessed 2012.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Today, Christians the world over celebrate the birth of Jesus.  The Christ child was prophesied by Isaiah (7:14, 9:6-7) and Daniel (9:24-26), and was born to a virgin nearly 2,000 years ago.  Jesus’ birth split time, dividing the period before his birth (BC) and after (AD) forever.  Here’s the recount of the Savior’s birth announcement, taken from Luke Chapter 2:10-11: (NIV)

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is [e]Christ the Lord. ~ Luke 2:10-11

This Christmas season let’s take time to reflect on the real reason we celebrate.  Amidst all the presents and hustle and bustle, let’s remember that God made good on His promise to send us a deliverer – one who could save man from his sins.  John 3:16 says that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” 

So, today we say happy birthday Jesus! 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

T'was the Night Before Christmas

T’was the night before Christmas
And all through the land,
Government officials and regulators
Were devising a plan.

The Congress and Senate
Passed a bill late last night,
Which will bankrupt our country,
And worsen our plight.

The Fed was going easy
With money galore,
Bernanke and company-
Quantitative-Easing forever more.

Our debts grow larger
With each passing day.
A trillion here, a trillion there,
“Spend more!” the Keynesians say.

The rates of unemployment
Are frightening high.
More government intervention,
Is their only desire.

Scared to hire
And afraid to spend,
Small companies hunker down,
Obamacare lurks around the bend.

Hopefully we’ve learned
A hard lesson for most,
That massive spending and debt,
Won’t lead to prosperity and growth.

The Prez and Congress
On vacation they’ve finally left.
Good bye and good riddance!
Now, let’s clean up their mess.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

FAA Rules Against Passengers

The FAA announced new rules today further limiting the hours pilots can work.  The FAA's move will cost airlines, and ultimately consumers, millions, and reduce choice, especially in small to medium sized airport.  However, contrary to the FAA's intentions, this move will do little to prevent fatigued pilots from flying.

The one thing the FAA cannot do is mandate rest for pilots.  Sure, they can force pilots out of the cockpit, but it cannot force them into naps or sleep, which is what's required to prevent fatigue.  Pilots, like nearly everyone else, can do whatever they please during their off hours.  Until the FAA passes new rules mandating bedtimes for pilots, the new rules will have little to no effect on pilot fatigue.  However, you can be sure that you'll pay more for that next flight.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

America’s Great Police State

Here’s a disturbing article in the WSJ about the growing police state in America.  It seems that every little government agency now has its own law enforcement office.  As Congress and the federal bureaucracy churn out more laws and more regulations, an army of law enforcement is needed to police the scofflaw American public.

Imagine a team of SWAT agents numbering in the teens bursting into your home, rifling through your personal belongings because they suspect you are in possession of…..coral.  You obtained it legally, of course, but forgot to fill out the “proper” paperwork.  Your penalty: $500 fine and one year of probation. 
Welcome to the Great American Police State.