“I'm from the government and I'm here to help” • Fred Johnson
As Ronald Reagan once said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.”
Over my career as an aerospace engineer, I have experienced the government sending “experts” to help solve a problem. What we typically did was put the experts in a room somewhere; assign some people to baby sit them while our own experts solved the problem.
Did you notice that first thing Governor Christie asked for from President Obama was for relief from government red tape and regulations? In other words, the best thing the government could do to provide relief for the hurricane damage would be to simply get out of the way. And did you notice that the governor put the president in a helicopter and flew him around? That sounds similar to our solution to government experts in the aerospace industry.
One thing Governor Christie asked for was relief from EPA regulations requiring special blends of gasoline for different areas. After experiencing six hour waits and long lines at gas stations those EPA regulations have been waived so whatever gasoline is available at refineries can now be shipped to the communities. A permanent ban on those regulations would give us cheaper gas everywhere.
Local governments are also to blame. New Yorkers are suffering from a mayor who spent his time banning 32-ounce sodas and trans fats instead of preparing New York City for emergencies. Mayor Bloomberg also refused to allow National Guard troops into communities because he does not want weapons in the city. Residents are protecting their homes from looters in the dark using baseball bats, machetes and shotguns. The mayor also insisted for days that a marathon race would be held as scheduled in New York City. Public pressure finally forced him to cancel the event which released power generators, bottled water and law enforcement to help the beleaguered neighborhoods.
New Jersey has their own regulations which inhibit their recovery. One is that no self service is allowed at gas stations. The other is that they are a union closed shop state which forced them to send nonunion utility workers on to assist other states to get their power back on.
The lesson from Hurricane Sandy is that excessive government red tape, rules and regulations are strangling our economy and our country. But actually, we knew that already.
Printed in the November 8, 2012 edition