When I was a kid, I'd wake up extraordinarily early every morning and turn on the television, scanning for episodes of "The Jetsons." For some reason, I loved the notion of a future where there would be flying cars, supercomputers, and most of all, robot maids to take care of the chores. The generation that preceded me tuned into "Star Trek" for the same reasons -- they were eager to see a future that featured incredible technology and timesaving conveniences.
For the first time in American history, today's generation is looking at a future that resembles the Flintstones more than the Jetsons. President Obama's science adviser, John Holdren, preaches the virtues of "de-development," by which he means the destruction of technological advances; the Obama administration preaches cap and trade policies, which would cripple American standards of living if implemented. Obama and his cronies have no faith whatsoever in human ingenuity and entrepreneurship: the best solutions are always proscriptive and prophylactic.
They're wrong. The best solutions are, almost invariably, created by the private sector. Problems present opportunities spurring the private sector to innovation; problems present challenges spurring the public sector to regulation. Only the private sector's solutions make life better for everyone.
Take, for example, a serious problem now plaguing the nation: the rash of automobile accidents caused by drivers using cell phones. According to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, driver distractions caused almost 5,500 deaths last year, constituting 16 percent of road fatalities. Many of those distractions were due to texting and dialing.
LaHood's solution: a federal ban on all use of cell phones while driving. "I don't want people talking on phones, having them up to their ear or texting while they're driving," LaHood said with justification. "We need a lot better research on other distractions," he added. He wants to ban OnStar from developing applications that would allow drivers to update their Facebook or Twitter pages via oral communication. He says that "would be the biggest distraction of all."
LaHood's solution sounds reasonable, but as with all government solutions, it has costs. While driving, how many of us use our cell phones to check on the safety of our loved ones, to do business or even to make emergency calls? How many of us would be willing to give up those conveniences -- and, in some cases, those necessities -- in order to satisfy LaHood's safety requirements?
Government, however, is a blunt instrument, able only to ban, to prevent, to stop. Every government regulation is a trade-off between interests.