I had lunch with a gentleman I consider a friend last Friday. He's a libertarian, and a really sharp guy, and I always enjoy our discussions. Never heated, always challenging, he's fun to talk with about a wide range of topics. He routinely comes back to a topic that is near and dear to his heart: the hidden (and high) costs of regulation. Truly, there are numerous examples that would illustrate just how absurd this can be (witness that the government regulates how much water is in every flush of your toilet - assuming you're not living in an old house as I am).
Yet, I saw this article today, and read it mostly out of a desire to read something that would reinforce my thoughts on the disparity between our culture and that of China. And wouldn't you know it? I found something in common.
"The Qingping market is dirty," said a Guangzhou-born taxi driver, surnamed Mo. "It's dirty because it's old, and the government is unwilling to put up enough money to fix it."
Ah, yes, the ever-loving "government." Of course, as anyone who reads here knows, I am referring to the external variety. Like it or not, until we find a means of reintroducing the self-government gene to people, and since men aren't angels, we're going to require some external government.
And while my libertarian friend might cringe, this got me to thinking about the high costs of no regulations. Remember the SARS epidemic in 2002? The same article notes that 8,000 people worldwide were infected, and 800 died. Maybe SARS wasn't that deadly (sounds like the winner of the "worst slogan in the world" contest). But how about the next virus that springs up because of the filthy conditions in some of these markets?
All of which leads me back to familiar ground. Until someone can show me otherwise, balanced government remains the only means I have been able to discover that has the ability to revive self-government and ensure a rebirth of this Republic.