Larry Elder

The story you are about to read is true. The names have been changed to protect the bureaucrats.

A few months ago, I met a contractor in a bar. He told me about his business, and I asked him how many people he employed. He said, "Forty-nine. If I have one more, then the federal Family Medical Leave Act and the California Family Rights Act kick in. Then if somebody goes out, I have to hold his job open for months, whether I can afford to keep him or not. That's bull----." So here we are. A man that wants to hire more people refuses to do so, because an additional hiree takes a hammer to his profit margins.

I recently visited a friend who lives in the Bay Area. I got through security at Los Angeles International Airport, even through my carry-on toiletry bag included hair paste, toothpaste and deodorant. All went through the security screening, no problem.

On my return flight through San Francisco Airport, however, security made me open my toiletry bag, and I received stern instructions to -- in the future -- place stuff like shampoo, hair paste, toothpaste, sunblock and deodorant in a zip-lock plastic bag. "No one told me to do that on the way up here," I said. The security screener said, "Those are the rules. Somebody simply didn't follow them."

Not long ago the government released results of a test run last year to determine the efficiency of airport security at detecting fake bombs. The Transportation Security Administration report reveals that screeners at Los Angeles International Airport failed to find fake bombs in 75 percent of tests. Chicago O'Hare screeners failed more than 60 percent. But only 20 percent of the bombs made it through security at the five U.S. airports allowed to use private firms to run their security screenings. Contractors for those five airports are reimbursed for their actual costs, with profit from awards based on performance. San Francisco, coincidentally, uses private screeners, while Los Angeles uses government employees. So which screeners were more efficient -- government employees or private ones?

Now consider health care. Great Britain's taxpayer-funded National Health Service (NHS) covers the medical needs of every British citizen in the country's population of 61 million. Yet 60,000 Britons traveled abroad for medical care in 2006. Another 70,000 are expected to do so this year. By 2010, experts estimate the number to increase to 200,000. Credit the frustration of interminably long wait-lists and inadequate care. According to the London Times, the NHS "is in deep trouble, mired in scandal and incompetence, despite the injection of billions of pounds of taxpayers' money."


Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com.