Feed on

On a drive to Ontario Beach Park the other day, our transmission had a feeder tube break. We lost all of the tranny fluid, which when I kept driving it led to the complete wreckage of our transmission. Our car is in the shop now undergoing the construction of a brand new transmission. Total cost ~ $3,000.


But hey, just think of how wonderful that is going to be for the economy. The tranny repair guy now has $3,000 in his pocket that he did not have before. He can spend that money on tranny parts, so those guys have more money than before, and he may spend some more on a dinner out and perhaps a new bicycle. All of those guys will in turn dine out, buy clothes, insulate their attics and more! What a fantastic thing for the economy.

Now, my regular readers know this to be a most fallacious argument. I hope my new students will soon understand why as well. But here is something I have been encountering more and more of lately. What if Wintercow’s family gets less “utility” from that $3,000 than the tranny guy and all of the folks down the web of transactions that my transmission rebuild will create? Isn’t it plausible that from a utility standpoint that the world is better off? And boy if this idea had any teeth, just imagine all of the good our social planners could do without ever having to repudiate those evil heartless Republicans by raising taxes and distributing the proceeds! We can have hordes of government workers (oh, just think of those jobs too!) surreptitiously disabling all of the valuables from “rich” people like me. No taxes necessary. No distribution necessary.  It’s perhaps the most perfect progressive program I can think of.

And for you, dear readers, who are shaking your heads about how absurd this program sounds, I’d politely remind you that we already do this sort of a thing. Did you ever hear of occupational licensing laws? What about various regulatory rulings that have the impact of raising costs on some parties to the benefit of others? Is there any material difference between those rulings and the outright destruction of my physical property? I am sure some philosopher will claim yes. It will be hard to persuade me. But hey, at least I am honest at the outset.

UPDATE: In a somewhat related story here is what our brilliant leaders are doing in California:

How will California parents react when they find out they will be expected to provide workers’ compensation benefits, rest and meal breaks, and paid vacation time for…babysitters? Dinner and a movie night may soon become much more complicated.

California Assembly Bill 889 will require these protections for all “domestic employees,” including nannies, housekeepers and caregivers. The bill has already passed the Assembly and is quickly moving through the Senate with blanket support from the Democrat members that control both houses of the Legislature – and without the support of a single Republican member. Assuming the bill will easily clear its last couple of legislative hurdles, AB 889 will soon be on its way to the Governor’s desk.

Under AB 889, household “employers” (aka “parents”) who hire a babysitter on a Friday night will be legally obligated to pay at least minimum wage to any sitter over the age of 18 (unless it is a family member), provide a substitute caregiver every two hours to cover rest and meal breaks, in addition to workers’ compensation coverage, overtime pay, and a meticulously calculated timecard/paycheck.

Failure to abide by any of these provisions may result in a legal cause of action against the employer (“parents”) including cumulative penalties, attorneys’ fees, legal costs and expenses associated with hiring expert witnesses, an unprecedented measure of legal recourse provided no other class of workers – from agricultural laborers to garment manufacturers.”

My take? I’m with Coyote, again.

5 Responses to “The Broken Transmission Fallacy”

  1. Rod says:

    A spinoff blog is talking to me: the unbrokentransmission.com.

    What about the junkyard? Weren’t there any transmissions for your car in the junkyard?

    I used to pay 12 percent of payroll for workmen’s comp for our farm help, the rate reserved for miners and fishermen. (AKA worker’s comp — politically correct in two ways.) Dairy farming is deemed one of the most dangerous jobs, as one’s employees work around moving machinery and large animals. My only claim ever was for an employee stabbing his foot with a manure fork while he was trying to chip ice — not with an ice chipper but a manure fork.

    I still paid something like three percent for my newspaper employees. I asked my agent what occupational injury he could imagine, and he said, “someone could slip and fall when on an assignment or at your office.” No claims there, either.

    Kid labor is being abolished through all these laws that protect the labor market from cheap kid labor competition. Many people just ignore the law, but you’d better be covered with some good umbrella insurance if a kid gets injured mowing your lawn with that potentially very dangerous push mower.

    This is one more reason to encourage the secession of California. Let them have their own People’s Republic.

  2. Harry says:

    Just think how much the Vermont construction industry will be after the hurricane. I wonder what Bernie Sanders thinks, clouds and silver liningwise.

  3. Michael says:

    I saw a little gem today on why Irene is good for the economy. I even had a talk with another “economist” who seems to think that insurance companies just have all sorts of cash not doing anything, so it could be good. I couldn’t find the link, but found “Why Obama needs to spend more” instead. At least the majority of comments berated the author, although they think WWII spending got us out of the depression.

  4. sherlock says:

    Just read the update. Holy Sh@$!! I can’t wait for the Baby Sitters Union. Who even proposed that bill? Some Congress(wo)man who’s daughter came home tired from babysitting and perhaps missed a meal (aghast!).

    I hate these rules and regulations that are supposed to protect the worker. For example, I am forced to take a half hour lunch break where I work thanks to law. This comes at the time when I am the busiest (mid-morning to early afternoon). If it was up to me, I would gladly skip my lunch break (maybe even just eat a granola bar, oh dear!) and get out a half hour earlier each day. This not only benefits the production of my company but myself (the person the law is supposed to protect) as well. Sorry for the rant.

  5. sherlock says:

    My apologies: *whose daughter

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