I know my blog has been kind of dead lately -- this "Blog on days off" approach works less well when I only have two days off a week -- so I'm going to try to start throwing up additional posts, not on any particular schedule, but just when I have an idea and the time. So, this morning I was thinking about how pissed I am that I have to drive, despite everybody driving being a terrible system for getting everybody around. And that got me thinking about all the industries that exist in the US that survive, in whole or in part, because the US government defends their continued existence. (Coincidentally, Charles Stross just wrote about a similar topic, declining employment rates, at his blog.)
- The automotive industry:
The United States puts a huge amount of energy into making sure we can keep making cars -- which is a terrible idea. Cars aren't a good idea anymore, and probably haven't been a good idea for a very long time. If it weren't for the GI bill, America couldn't possibly have had the proliferation into suburbs that we have today, so the major vital function of cars -- the commute -- would disappear. Apart from that, the United States government artificially minimizes the cost of parking. Like, to a crazy degree. It should probably be prohibitively expensive to use a car all the time, because, subjected to market forces, nobody would be able to afford to park.
- The entertainment industry:
The entertainment industry as it exists today relies entirely for its survival on the government's defense of copyright law that protects only the corporations that profit off artists' work. I don't want to trivialize the role of institutions in the creation of art, but copyright doesn't need to protect an artist's right to profit from their work seventy years after they die.
- The recreational gun industry:
Really? Like, seriously, we need this? Nope. Not even a little.
Like I said earlier, today's a work day, so I've only got about three hours of free time today, and I need some of that to eat breakfast and get ready. I don't want to spend the rest of it researching for this post, so it's going to have to be a kind of a summary.
If you check out the Stross post I linked earlier and will link again here, you can see that the American government has let plenty of other industries die, the same thing that's happened in every other industrialized country. In general, only about half of people in industrialized countries work, in any sense that contributes to an industry. And that's fine. I don't expect the government to protect every job. The fact that an industry was once profitable does not entitle anyone to continue making money doing whatever that industry did.
What I expect, in fact, is the opposite: For the government to let die even the industries that the American people have a fetish for, and to resist the pressure lobbyists put on them to pass bad laws to protect dead companies.