Correcting an Oversight

Listening to talk radio on the way into work this morning (I know, I know, there are better things to listen to, but since Sirius/XM has pretty much made the Broadway channel unlistenable —- something I’ve been meaning to blog about — I’ve been floundering around lately), I heard a gentleman complain that the government shutdown is hurting his business — because nobody’s available to issue the export licenses that he needs to ship goods abroad.

Oddly, it seems not to have occurred to this gentleman that his problem emanates not from the parts of the government that are shut down, but from the parts that aren’t. If the government were really shut down, there’d be nobody to enforce the export-license requirement in the first place.

(And just to anticipate the worst possible misreadings — yes, I am aware that in the absence of any government at all, this gentleman’s business, with its reliance on contracts and property rights, might not exist in the first place. That doesn’t change the fact that his immediate problems are being caused by too much government, not too little.)

Click here to comment or read others’ comments.

Share/Save

11 Responses to “Correcting an Oversight”


  1. 1 1 Daniel

    Is it possible that he sees that there are problems in both directions?

    So given that he cannot obtain a license, there’s either 1. Too much government that will prevent him from executing his trade without a license or 2. Too little government to provide for a license?

    Isn’t either one a correct interpretation, and isn’t it possible that he also is “aware that in the absence of any government at all, this gentleman’s business, with its reliance on contracts and property rights, might not exist in the first place.”, and thus thinks the your argument is not worth mentioning?

  2. 2 2 RJ

    Export licenses are a means of checking the security of the contents being delivered to the recipients, for reasons including national security, proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, crime and other anti-terrorism matters. There’s also the issue of UN Sanctions too (whether or not you believe sanction X is justifiable is another debate, but they play an important political role).

    (And just to anticipate *my* worst possible misreadings, I realize that they can be abused in order to give one industry an unfair competitive edge over the other. This, however, isn’t a sufficient enough reason to say any export controls, period, are too much government control.)

  3. 3 3 Jerry

    So you’re in a car, on a road, driving safely in traffic, listening to a radio and complaining about government.

    In a car, on a road, driving safely in traffic, listening to a radio.

    Got it.

  4. 4 4 Dustin

    Could also be that there is no one there to enforce the law right now. But he’s not willing to take the chance of having to pay the fines when they return to work.

  5. 5 5 nobody.really

    IRS: Well – it seems, Mr. Vanderhof, that you owe the Government twenty-four years’ back income tax….

    Grandpa: Well, what do I get for my money? If I go into Macy’s and buy something, there it is — I see it. What’s the Government give me?

    IRS: Why – the Government gives you everything. It protects you.

    Grandpa: What from?

    IRS: Well – invasion. Foreigners that might come over here and take everything you’ve got.

    Grandpa: Oh, I don’t think they’re going to do that.

    IRS: If you didn’t’ pay an income tax, they would. How do you think the Government keeps up the Army and Navy. All those battleships…

    Grandpa: Last time we used battleships was in the Spanish-American War. And what did we get out of it? Cuba — and we gave that back. I wouldn’t mind paying if it were for something sensible.

    IRS: Sensible? Well, what about Congress, and the Supreme Court, and the President? We’ve got to pay them, don’t we?

    Grandpa: Not with my money – no, sir.

    IRS (furious…): Now wait a minute! I’m not here to argue with you…. All I know is that you haven’t’ paid an income tax and you’ve got to pay it!

    Grandpa: You’ve got to show me.

    IRS: We don’t have to show you! I just told you! All those buildings down in Washington … and Interstate Commerce, and the Constitution!

    Grandpa: The Constitution was paid for long ago. And Interstate Commerce – what is Interstate Commerce, anyhow?

    IRS (…With murderous calm, crosses and places his hands on table): There are forty-eight states – see? And if there weren’t Interstate Commerce, nothing could go from one state to another. See?

    Grandpa: Why not — they got fences?

    IRS: NO, THEY HAVEN’T GOT FENSES; THEY’VE GOT LAWS! My God…!

    Grandpa: Well, I might pay about $75, but that’s all it’s worth….

    Moss Hart & George Kaufman, You Can’t Take It With You, Act 1, Scene 1.

  6. 6 6 iceman

    Personally I’m more concerned about bad stuff coming into the country than leaving it.

    Good to be reminded that if I use a road I shouldn’t question any other function or spending item. It’s either anarchy or leviathan.

  7. 7 7 Tristan

    @nobody.really

    That dialogue kinda reminds me of a Jack Chick creationist comic.

  8. 8 8 Ken B

    @nobody.relly: Nice.

  9. 9 9 Mike H

    Poor curiosity: http://www.nasa.gov

  10. 10 10 Eliezer

    When can we start using medicine that isn’t FDA approved?

  11. 11 11 Alan Wexelblat

    Daniel has summarized what I was going to say, but I did want to ask an honest question, which is how do we know whether it’s too much or too little?

  1. 1 Outrage Over Outrage Over Government Shutdown: I’m Starting With the Man in the Mirror
  2. 2 Outrage Over Outrage Over Government Shutdown: I’m Starting With the Man in the Mirror - Unofficial Network
  3. 3 If They Don’t Get This Point, Much of What We Say Sounds Like Gibberish to Them
  4. 4 The Stateless Society | Orobos
Comments are currently closed.