Nobody likes pain, but we need it. This may sound counterintuitive or cruel when you are suffering with an injury or illness, but severe dangers accompany a life without pain. A rare genetic disorder renders some people incapable of feeling pain, heat, or cold. Life for them is full of unexpected dangers, particularly for children, who frequently injure themselves, even biting through their own lips or tongues. More than we appreciate, pain protects us. It teaches us to avoid harmful behaviors and to pursue beneficial ones. Avoiding future pain is an incentive to be hardworking, frugal, kind to our family and neighbors, and even to maintain good health.
While policymakers and politicians may mean well, government programs like ill-conceived entitlements, tax breaks, and mandates wrought with perverse incentives numb the beneficiaries against pain, working against healthy incentives. Consider the most recent economic crises. Why would companies that received massive government bailouts choose to avoid the bad practices that got them into trouble in the first place? What incentive do they have to change if government guarantees a painless outcome?
Pain is an important part of life that should work to correct some of our most harmful behaviors. But if we’re too numb to feel the consequences of our decisions, then like those children, we may find we have seriously damaged our lives, our economy, and our society before we recognize the need to change what we are doing.
Christina Martin talks with Victoria Taft on her latest commentaries about control in education and starting the new year by cutting red tape!
Americans live in a regulatory minefield.
Consider the tens of thousands of statutes, regulations, and court precedents that affect nearly every aspect of your life: The United States Code is 50 volumes; the Code of Federal Regulations is 150,000 pages; State laws, administrative rules, and city codes add tens of thousands more pages. Add the myriad court interpretations of these rules, and you understand why the U.S. has more than 1.2 million active attorneys.
Most of these rules have nothing to do with protecting your rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Most have everything to do with limiting your choices: what kind of home you can live in or business you can start; forms you must file and licenses you must acquire; taxes you must pay; the goods, food, and medicine you can buy; and much more.
Why should we have so many rules? Laws, when rightly established, prevent us from harming each other. But when wrongly established, they keep us from living freely and smother the lamp of creative invention and entrepreneurship. John Quincy Adams wrote, “[T]he laws of man may bind him in chains, or may put him to death, but they never can make him wise, virtuous, or happy.”
Instead of heaping more regulations on us, legislators should cut red tape so individuals and businesses can reach their potential in freedom.