Jewish World Review Oct. 12, 2010/ 4 Mar-Cheshvan, 5771
By Tom Purcell
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The evidence is right under their noses, yet they keep missing it.
I am living in the Washington, D.C., area for a spell. I moved here temporarily from Pittsburgh, land of friendly, considerate people.
People are not so considerate here -- particularly on the roadways.
Drivers in D.C. come from every part of the globe and drive every kind of vehicle. Yet most have one thing in common.
You better get out of their way.
In Pittsburgh, it is routine for one driver to allow another driver to merge. They don't do that here. It is every man, woman and child for himself or herself.
Ironically, the same town that produces gargantuan government programs that clog the free flow of commerce also has the most efficient, cutthroat drivers on the planet.
The average D.C. driver would hand his mother to murderous thugs if it would cut three minutes off his commute.
D.C. drivers provide a glimpse into human nature: People are motivated by self-interest; D.C. drivers are motivated by getting from point A to point B as quickly as they can.
They have navigated every back road, every shortcut, every little trick to bypass the Beltway's bumper-to-bumper lemmings.
Some commuters ride scooters or motorcycles to weave their way past hundreds of backed-up cars.
Some unassuming government employees, despite being dulled by years of paper-pushing, put lifelike mannequins in their passenger seats so they can use high-occupancy-vehicle lanes undetected.
D.C. drivers' genius and creativity are things to marvel at. Thousands make millions of individual decisions with one goal in mind: getting where they're going in the fastest, most efficient manner possible.
As I was doing just that the other day, it occurred to me that D.C roadways are a fine model for our economy.
The goal is the freest flow of traffic possible, so that individuals can get to their destinations as freely as possible.
Rules and government oversight are essential. If there were no speed limits, traffic lights and police presence, the roads would erupt into chaos.
So our government bodies establish basic rules of the road and then, for the most part, get out of the way.
Sure, if a challenge evolves -- if people begin causing accidents by texting while driving or driving too aggressively -- the government alters the rules to clamp down on destructive behaviors.
But the government mostly stays out of the way. Despite thousands of drivers every day, D.C. roads work remarkably well for most.
And despite this simple, highly effective model, some who drive in D.C. are oblivious to the lessons taught by its roads.
They use government force to make us use one technology and not another (kiss your low-cost, perfectly useful incandescent light bulb goodbye).
They go after "the rich" with higher taxes and end up hurting the middle class and the poor.
The impose costly "employee" mandates on small employers, who quickly decide it is cheaper to not employ.
They are forever doing things -- new laws, taxes, mandates and outright intrusions into private matters -- that fly in the face of human nature and end up obstructing the free flow of our economy.
And the rest of us end up getting taken on a bumpy ride.
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© 2010, Tom Purcell