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Posts Tagged ‘Intervention’

I’ve had several reasons to mock California in the past couple of years (see here, here, here, and here).

But I never thought state politicians would be crazy enough to impose harsh regulations on babysitting.

Filling out a time card for your babysitter sounds absurd, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg in a new law moving through the California state legislature. Here’s how a critic described some of the key provisions in a column for a local newspaper.

How will parents react when they find out they will be expected to provide workers’ compensation benefits, rest and meal breaks and paid vacation time for…babysitters? Dinner and a movie night may soon become much more complicated. Assembly Bill 889 (authored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, will require these protections for all “domestic employees,” including nannies, housekeepers and caregivers. The bill has already passed the Assembly and is quickly moving through the Senate with blanket support from the Democrat members that control both houses of the Legislature.

Parents might even need to hire two babysitters if they intend to be out of the house for more than a couple of hours, though I actually hope the author is wrong in this description of the legislation (surely they’re not this crazy!).

…household “employers” (aka “parents”) who hire a babysitter on a Friday night will be legally obligated to…provide a substitute caregiver every two hours to cover rest and meal breaks, in addition to workers’ compensation coverage, overtime pay, and a meticulously calculated timecard/paycheck. Failure to abide by any of these provisions may result in a legal cause of action against the employer including cumulative penalties, attorneys’ fees, legal costs and expenses associated with hiring expert witnesses.

I have no problem, however, believing that California politicians are creating a system designed to facilitate costly and absurd lawsuits. I’m sure the trial lawyers are getting a good return on their campaign contributions.

The only good news is that we can safely assume that there will be rampant non-compliance from parents and baby sitters. The bad news is that this legislation almost surely will have a deleterious impact on more permanent forms of care-giving, such as nannies and housekeepers. That will be especially unfortunate for lower-income people who tend to benefit from these types of jobs.

..the unreasonable costs and risks contained in this bill will discourage folks from hiring housekeepers, nannies and babysitters and increase the use of institutionalized care rather than allowing children, the sick or elderly to be cared for in their homes.

When the Golden State falls apart and goes bankrupt, this legislation (assuming it is approved) will be a good example of the failure of left-wing statism.

P.S. Since we are picking on California, here are a couple of posts that use humor to make fun of the folks on the left coast (here and here).

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I’m an over-protective parent. Even now, with my kids ranging between 18 and 23, I will try to herd them together while skiing so I can follow them down the slopes and watch for potential injuries. And I never got them a jungle gym when they were young, even though I somehow managed to survive childhood with one in my backyard.

But at least I recognize what I’m doing. And I certainly would never consider imposing my mother-hen impulses on the overall population.

I’m not surprised to discover, however, that bureaucrats in New York wanted to go way overboard with regulations to ban just about anything with even tiny risks of injury. This list included things such as archery and rock climbing, which might cause me to fret, but also things such as (I’m not joking) kickball and tag.

With those standards, you may as well require kids to be enclosed in bubble wrap every morning.

The only good news is that people found out about the state’s regulatory overreach and the government was forced to cancel the rules after widespread mockery.

Here are some excerpts from a story by NBC in New York.

Day camp games like tag, wiffle ball, Red Rover and kickball are no longer at risk in New York after state health officials yanked a proposal that threatened the future of those mainstays of child’s play. Towns, villages and other camp operators had begun revamping upcoming indoor summer programs after the Department of Health sent out a long list of familiar games and activities it said presented a “significant risk of injury” and needed to be regulated more closely. …On Tuesday, Richie, a Republican whose district includes three mostly rural north-central New York counties, said she was pleased by the reversal. “At a time when our nation’s No. 1 health concern is childhood obesity, I am very happy to see that someone in state government saw we should not be adding new burdensome regulations by classifying tag, Red Rover and Wiffle Ball as dangerous activities,” she said. “I am glad New York’s children can continue to steal the bacon and play flag football and enjoy other traditional rites of summer.” The proposal would have revised the definition of a summer day camp to include potentially risky organized indoor group activities like archery and rock climbing — as well as things like kickball, tag and Wiffle Ball. Ritchie said that would have required camps in many smaller towns and villages to add staff such as nurses and pay $200 for a state permit. Other critics argued the regulation was a hysterical approach that stood to take all the fun out of summer.

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The world is filled with evil governments run by evil people who do evil things to innocent people. Libya is a stark example of this tragic reality. But that does not necessarily mean it is the responsibility of the United States government to intervene in Libyan affairs – particularly if there is no clear mission or implication for U.S. national security.

George Will opines on this issue today, asking more than a dozen probing questions about the wisdom of another nation-building experiment in the Muslim world. This excerpt has a handful of the questions that I think are most important. I’m especially concerned that the U.S. government might intervene after asking permission from the kleptocrats at the United Nations – thus doing the wrong thing in the worst possible way.

Today, some Washington voices are calling for U.S. force to be applied, somehow, on behalf of the people trying to overthrow Moammar Gaddafi. Some interventionists are Republicans, whose skepticism about government’s abilities to achieve intended effects ends at the water’s edge. All interventionists should answer some questions:

The world would be better without Gaddafi. But is that a vital U.S. national interest? If it is, when did it become so? A month ago, no one thought it was.

Before we intervene in Libya, do we ask the United Nations for permission? If it is refused, do we proceed anyway? If so, why ask? If we are refused permission and recede from intervention, have we not made U.S. foreign policy hostage to a hostile institution?

Would it be wise for U.S. military force to be engaged simultaneously in three Muslim nations?

I’m surely not an expert on these issues, but my aversion to nation building does not mean I’m opposed to slapping around people who attack the United States. If the President happened to drop a cruise missile on Gaddafi and said it was a delayed response for the Pan Am Lockerbie bombing, I wouldn’t lose a second of sleep.

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Almost every regulation presumably produces some benefit. The real issue is whether the benefits are significant and – even more important – whether they exceed the costs. Unfortunately, most regulations fail this common-sense test. A German magazine provides some good evidence, reporting that major companies from Germany are choosing to “de-list” from the New York Stock Exchange because of pointless regulation and costly litigation. This may not seem like much, but it is symbolic of a market that is increasingly unfriendly to business and entrepreneurship. Something to think about the next time you hear a politician wonder why more jobs aren’t being created.

With expensive accounting rules, an increased threat of litigation and hundreds of millions of dollars in fines for some firms, the once prestigious New York Stock Exchange and other American markets have become unattractive to Germany’s biggest companies. Daimler and Deutsche Telekom have fled this year and the few remaining are likely to follow. …regulations introduced by the United States government in the wake of the accounting scandals in the early 2000s brought extra oversight and added costs for foreign companies listed on the NYSE. Of the 11 firms on Germany’s DAX index of blue chip companies that were at one time listed on the NYSE, only four still remain: Deutsche Bank, Fresenius, SAP and Siemens. …The attractiveness of the American capital market to German firms began to erode with Sarbanes-Oxley. …From the start, companies voiced their displeasure with the high costs required to comply with the reforms. In one provision, companies were obligated to hire an independent auditor to monitor and report on the company’s financial reporting. …German firms cross-listed in the United States spent between €10 and €15 million annually on SEC compliance, a survey conducted by Stadtmann and his colleagues found. Most companies would not disclose the exact amount of money they spent on SEC compliance, but a Deutsche Telekom spokesperson told SPIEGEL ONLINE costs were in the “low double-digits” of millions of euros and another at Daimler said they did not exceed €10 million. When Telekom and Daimler announced their departures from the NYSE in April and May respectively, the main reason the companies said publicly was to reduce the complexity of financial reporting and administrative costs. On average, companies must add another five to 10 people to their payroll for SEC compliance alone, and a company may need a dozen workers for required executive compensation disclosures, says Miers. …The double-digit costs of SEC compliance, however, are paltry compared the hundreds of millions of dollars in liability — either through lawsuits or investigations and prosecutions — to which a US listing can expose foreign firms. …”What the SEC fully doesn’t grasp to today is that dealing with the US regulation system is a nightmare,” he says. “It’s another reason to run to the exit door.” Sarbanes-Oxley reforms also require a company executive to approve on all financial reports. “The most important thing (about Sarbanes-Oxley) is that the CEO and CFO sign for the financial statements,” says Stadtmann. “All it takes is one person in the company to make a mistake and (an executive) can go to jail.” …Stadtmann believes Siemens will pull out at the first opportunity.

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The war against drugs certainly has been good for government, with bigger budgets, more bureaucracy, and new powers.

But does it have any positive impact, even from the perspective of people (like me) who think drug use has a net negative impact on both users and society?

The answer, almost surely, is no. A recent article from The Economist finds that marijuana use is very low in Portugal, even though most drugs – including heroin and cocaine – were decriminalized in 2001.

So if the Drug War has lots of bad consequences and no good consequences, isn’t it time to stop? After all, if you’re in a hole, doesn’t it make sense to stop digging?

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