Yes, some people have mental illnesses and drug addictions that contribute strongly to their poverty.  But there are other reasons that materially force many more people into poverty.  What are they?  Many of them are the direct result of government regulations, which substantially increase the costs of living.  Such as?  Housing!  Whether buying or renting, the costs of housing are vastly increased by labor unions, bureaucrats and environmentalists who insist upon more and more regulations that substantially increase the costs of building a house, condo or apartment.  (Frequently bureaucrats do this in order to justify their existence!)  And if builders try to reduce the impact of those regulations, an expensive lawsuit is almost always the result.  A huge second reason is Energy.  Whether it is energy for transportation or to heat, cool and light our homes, regulations cause those expenses to explode.  For example, California has the second-highest gasoline prices in the country, second only to Hawaii, such that our prices, including high sales taxes, are calculated to be 47.3 percent higher than the average of the other 49 states.  And our residential, commercial and industrial electric power rates are 55.8, 69.7 and 115 percent higher, respectively, than that average.  In addition, now there is an environmental movement to ban all natural gas hookups in favor of using all-electric appliances in the name of reducing greenhouse gases.  And that is not to mention inflation, as well as our income and sales taxes, which are among the highest in the country.

      Bluntly speaking, my wife and I often complain about these higher prices, but we are blessed to be in a financial position where they are mostly just an annoyance.  But many people at the lower end of the economic sector are placed into real financial peril because of them.  For example, if you are earning small wages and commuting to your job, the difference between gasoline priced at $3.50 as opposed to $4.50 per gallon can be enormous.  Or an electricity bill of $50 instead of $95 per month, etc.!  So what can we do?  Reduce many of these regulations and allow the Free Market and the Justice System to do their jobs!  Estimates are that a full 30 percent of the costs of new housing is spent trying to comply with so many government regulations.  For example, the city should not be required to inspect a new gas heater if it is installed by a licensed and bonded supplier – same with the roof.  Knock off those delays and expenses, with the understanding that if something goes wrong, the customers can bring a lawsuit.  And the same is true for many environmental regulations which NIMBYs use to keep housing they don’t approve of from being built close to their neighborhoods.  The list goes on and on – help us to reduce it!

      Quote for the week, attributed to the testimony of Hermann Goering at the 1945 Nuremberg Trials as he responded to the question “How did you convince the German people to accept all this?”  His answer: “It was easy and has nothing to do with Nazism.  The only thing a government needs to turn people into slaves is fear.  If you can find something to scare them you can make them do anything you want.”

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.) Superior Court of Orange County, California 2012 Libertarian Candidate for Vice President

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