Contrary to the opinion of almost every person who already has a government required license to work, many of the licenses required by the State of Iowa are not only unnecessary, their primary purpose seems to be to protect existing licensees against competition, rather than to protect the public.
I am sure that certain state licensing requirements do help to ensure the safety and quality of the service provided, but in almost all cases, private certification programs could serve the same purpose without involving the use of force by government, and without giving government backed protection to existing licensees. A great example of this is Certified Financial Planners (CFPs). Financial professionals who want to hold themselves to a higher standard can get this private certification, and then advertise that fact. The same is true of Realtors.
I’m sure that many licensed professionals also have various college degrees, private certifications, and other professional credentials. In many cases, these private credentials should be sufficient. Those who have them should advertise the fact, and not ask government to prohibit others from competing against them.
The cost of a four year degree, even at our public universities, has gone up much even faster than medical care. For many college graduates, their post-graduate pay does not justify the amount of student debt that they accumulated.
Similar to community colleges, our public four-year universities should offer certificate programs that focus on specific skills, take less time, and cost less. The certificate should indicate that the student has specific specific skills that employers demand, without the extra classes, time and cost of a broad, liberal four year degree. If desired, students could live on campus and gain some of the non-classroom experience and relationships that colleges offer. This could go a long way towards lowering the cost of college while providing a college education.
In the Register today, 1/30/2015, Daryl Bouwkamp, with the Vermeer Corp., advocated that the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) be reauthorized by Congress to help exporters, such as Vermeer Corp. He wrote, “Vermeer currently serves customers in more than 60 nations – some of whom could we could not reach without financing support from the Ex-Im Bank.” I don’t understand why couldn’t Vermeer provide the financing or the guarantees needed? Are there no banks that would loan money to Vermeer or its customers if Vermeer guaranteed that the loans will be paid back? If not, why should taxpayers be on the hook?
This is a chance for Republicans to show whether or not they really mean what they say when they talk about ending crony capitalism. It appears that the exporters and bankers that use the Ex-Im Bank have become dependent on the taxpayer guarantees. We need to get back to true free market capitalism, where both the risks as well as the rewards are are kept in the private sector. If Republicans allow the Ex-Im Bank to be reauthorized, it will send a clear signal that crony capitalism is alive and well in America.
Des Moines and surrounding communities should welcome Uber, the internet based company that coordinates ride sharing as an alternative to taxis and limousines. Uber is now available in the Des Moines area for both drivers (car owners) and for riders. Uber takes advantage of the fact that most privately owned cars are very under used, and that many car owners have available time to provide a ride to those who need one. What a great way to earn extra income, or to start your own business full time. Uber does extensive background checks on people who want to provide rides in order to ensure a high level of safety. Beyond that, Uber actively solicits riders to rate drivers on a scale from 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent. It has been reported that Uber stops working with drivers who’s average rating falls below 4.6. So, Uber strives for high quality. (Uber drivers also rate passengers, so it is possible that Uber can also stop serving customers who are abusive.) Although Uber will be very upsetting to existing taxi companies, the City of Des Moines and surrounding communities should make whatever legal and regulatory changes are needed to allow Uber to operate in the metro area. If Uber is not doing enough to provide for reasonable customer safety, then laws and regulations should address those issues. Licensing should not be necessary. Generating tax revenues or protection of existing businesses should be considered in the process of making any needed changes.
Only government could create a situation like we have with the casinos and the dog racing industry. Casinos want to pay the dog racing people $92 million so that they won’t be required to continue to subsidize dog racing.
In any kind of free market situation, the casinos would either shut down the dog tracks or sell them to a private investors, if any could be found. In a free market, casinos would have competition. But, in Iowa, the casinos are protected from competition by government. Recently the Racing and Gaming Commission ruled against a couple of proposed new casinos because they would “cannibalize” other casinos. So, casino profits are protected and dog owners get bailed out. This is cronyism at its best.
The only good thing about this whole situation is that taxpayers are not on the hook.
Iowa originally got into gambling by legalizing betting on horse racing and dog racing. Legalization of gambling was sold to the public, in part, as an economic development idea. Horse breeding and training jobs would be created. Voluntary gambling would not only pay for the racing purses (and get the money to the animal owners and trainers to create the jobs), but would also provide money to governments and charities. Of course, as it has evolved, there is not enough money being gambled on either horse or dog races to pay for the purses, much less any money for government or charities. Profits from traditional casino gambling are covering the tremendous losses from animal racing.
There is a proposal in the Iowa Legislature to end dog racing by paying $70 million dollars to the private dog racing industry. There is no current proposal to end horse racing. Both need to be ended, and there should be no payment to either the horse or dog racing industries. If the racing were eliminated, it should not be allowed to result in windfall profits for private, for-profit owners of casinos that are funding the current losses. If the owners of the of race tracks are willing to pay $70 million to the dog owners in return for ending dog racing, then they should be willing to pay that same $70 million to either government to charities.
“Iowa has enjoyed tremendous economic benefits by being a leader in both wind power development and wind manufacturing.” So wrote Mike Prior, Milford, interim executive director, Iowa Wind Energy Association, in a letter to the editor on 2/4/2012, (“Wind energy is important jobs provider”) He went on to extol the many benefits that Iowans have enjoyed as a result of the funding that taxpayers have provided to those in the industry. He urged that we, “… continue to invest in Iowa’s future.”
Good economic analysis must consider both what is seen and what is not seen. We see the jobs. We see the payments to farmers. What we don’t see are the other jobs that would have been created if people had been left to spend or invest their own money. Other jobs would have been created that would not be dependent on government handouts. Instead, we hear a never-ending story about how we must continue to provide taxpayer support or the investment and jobs will be lost. This is very typical when government creates new “incentives” and makes “investments” in what should be left to the private sector.
Welfare for wind energy producers is like all other special interest giveaways: the benefits are large and concentrated among the few who who are politically connected, and and costs are relatively small and disbursed among many taxpayers. This is a classic case in public choice theory. Those who directly benefit have a great incentive to lobby government to continue the subsidies, and those who pay the taxes don’t have a strong incentive to oppose any specific program.
We need legislators who will stand against political favors for special interest factions who press their political power for their own self interest.
Link to Register article: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014302040081