News From Terre Haute, Indiana


January 12, 2014

Readers’ Forum: Jan. 13, 2014

Defending tenets of conservatism

The paper published a letter on Dec. 29 from John Garner replying to my own earlier letter. My letter made several points suggesting regulatory restraint and a fiscally conservative approach to government spending. Mr. Garner dismisses my points and this general approach as wrong and no more than ranting. Restrictions on the length of letters prevent me from discussing all of his points, but I will touch on a couple.

The cost of government regulation is high in this country and there is much more to it than employee benefits. The only government mandated benefits are the payment of Social Security, workers compensation and unemployment insurance taxes by the employer and employee, plus rules regarding minimum wage and overtime. At the first of the year health insurance could be added to the list. Time off for vacations and holidays, 401k retirement plans plus all the rest are benefits provided by employers to obtain and retain qualified employees.

The cost of these government mandated benefits are only a small fraction of the roughly $2T, or just under 20 percent of our economy, that is spent just to comply with all the myriad federal, state and local regulations. It is as if almost eight hours of every work week for every worker is siphoned off for regulatory compliance instead of productive labor. It is this ever-increasing amount of red tape that keeps the hands of employers tied and not hiring.

Moving on, my previous letter pointed out how Ireland and England had very different approaches and results from austerity programs. Granted, perhaps I should have said the United Kingdom. The British Isles mainly consist of two large islands — Ireland and Great Britain. The United Kingdom consists of all of Great Britain — Scotland, Wales and England, plus a portion of the island of Ireland, Northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland makes up about 85 percent of the island of Ireland and has been an independent country for a number of decades.

Mr. Garner did not let those facts get in the way though. He said “there are no real differences between Northern Ireland and Great Britain except the religious, cultural and economic ones, the same as in any two regions of America.” Wars have been fought over lesser differences than religious, cultural and economic ones. But more to the point of austerity and balanced budgets, just as Illinois is near the brink of economic ruin while Texas is doing well, the UK is wallowing in economic troubles while the Republic of Ireland is putting its financial house in order.

Mr. Garner simply offered bullet points saying economic conservatism and any attempt to reign in the government are wrong. He provides no discussion as to why. Nor does he offer any details to support his views which appear to be that everything bad in the world is the fault of the rich. John, yours was the letter that made no sense.

— Dwayne Owens, Terre Haute

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    March 12, 2010