Governmental incompetence and the illusion of the opposite…

I’ve been watching the live-action version of Atlas Shrugged unfold in the USA in the form of The Great Recession with a profound sadness and morbid curiosity.

What is most striking is the sheer incompetence of the governments involved. California, once the beacon of American economic might is looking especially bad these days.

Here’s a fascinating article on Los Angeles’ epic bungling of what should have been the very cut-and-dry matter of medical marijuana distribution. Please trust me, it’s worth the time to read this long article – it is an excellent what-not-to-do guide to public administration. How in the hell do you screw up giving away dope?

And I remember reading this piece back in the summer, which started me wondering what happened to our formerly Golden State. Ouch.

This next article from San Francisco is probably Not Safe For Work (content, no pictures). I agree with the editorial writer in that it is jaw-dropping that a member of the Board of Supervisors is even considering such a measure.

Anyone want to start a business or relocate in California now?

Now the EPA has declared CO2 (that is the breath you exhaled just now while reading this) as a “pollutant” on par with NOx or SOx or particulate pollution. Such incredible power grabs – coinciding even more incredibly with Climategate and 17.5% true unemployment – have led American businesses to husband their resources for fear of what one Reuters columnist rightly calls “The Uncertainty Tax”.

Add to that uncertainty a unpopular push to “fix health care”, and it is no wonder that American businesses are sitting on their hands.

And as the coup de grace, Congressional leaders are now talking about placing a “global tax” on stock market transactions to fuel new spending. No word about paying off deficits or debts.Brilliant idea, Nancy.

The bolder American business leaders – like John Allison of BB&T and David Farr of Emerson Electric – are speaking out against the current governmental trends in the USA. Farr goes so far as to make the point plainly:

“Washington is doing everything in their manpower, capability, to destroy U.S. manufacturing,” Farr said today in Chicago at a Baird Industrial Outlook conference. “Cap and trade, medical reform, labor rules.”

Emerson, the maker of electrical equipment and InSinkErator garbage disposals with $20.9 billion in sales for the year ended September, will keep expanding in emerging markets, which represented 32 percent of revenue in 2009. About 36 percent of manufacturing is now in “best-cost countries” up from 21 percent in 2003, according to slides accompanying his speech.

Companies will create jobs in India and China, “places where people want the products and where the governments welcome you to actually do something,” Farr said.

I am not saying China is perfect. It’s not by any stretch. I remember when they repaved our road in Shenzhen 3 or 4 times in a row, for no apparent reason. But despite such silliness, the Chinese government writ large is certainly projecting an image of competence, even if it turns out to only be an illusion somewhere down the road. As they say, perception equals reality.

Writing this blog as someone who has investments in American manufacturing companies and in a China-based company serving clients worldwide, it should be obvious which market I find more predictable and worthy of further time, effort and money.

What a sad comment on the current state of affairs that is.

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