All Commentary
Friday, January 1, 1993

The Most Unfair Taxes

In 1797, the U.S. Tariff Code consisted of a single sheet of paper. Today, there are more than 8,757 tariffs—plus lots of quotas, so-called voluntary import restraints and other import restrictions. These trade barriers cost consumers $80 billion per year—about $800 for every American family.

—Gene Grossman and Alan Krueger, National Bureau of Economic Research


Money Is No Object

How many times have you been in a discussion over an emotional political issue and the statement is made, “How can you even consider the cost when lives are at stake”? This question usually is raised in disagreement over government social welfare programs, health care issues, or national defense.

If we analyze the question we will see that the person asking already has placed a monetary value on the issue. What he is saying is, “I do not wish to spend any more of my resources on the problem but money is no object if someone else can be forced to pay the bill.”

—Richard L. Shetler


Finding a Job

Ronald Reagan, in speaking to a college graduating class in 1984, said the following: “I’m no longer young—you might have suspected that. The house we hope to build is one that is not for my generation but for yours. It is your future that matters. And I hope that when you’re my age you will be able to say, as I have been able to say, ‘We lived in Freedom. We lived lives that were a statement, not an apology.’”

When more Americans, both citizens and politicians, think, speak, and act like this, we will once again return to the American society that existed in the last century, where each person came to this country with nothing but their two strong hands, a mind to use, and the heart to work and create, and were given the full freedom to do so. Until that time, no “jobs bill” presented by any politician will succeed in improving the lives of any of our citizens.

—Robert Zimmerman


No Right to Security

Anyone who says that economic security is a human right, has been too much babied. While he babbles, other men are risking and losing their lives to protect him. They are fighting the sea, fighting the land, fighting diseases and insects and weather and space and time, for him, while he chatters that all men have a right to security and that some pagan god—Society, The State, The Government, The Commune—must give it to them. Let the fighting men stop fighting this inhuman earth for one hour, and he will learn how much security there is.

Let him get out on the front lines. Let him bring one slow freight through a snowstorm in the Rockies; let him drive one rivet to hold his apartment roof over his head. Let him keep his own electric light burning through one quiet, cosy winter evening when mist is freezing to the wires. Let him make, from seed to table, just one slice of bread, and we will hear no more from him about the human right to security.

No man’s security is any greater than his own self-reliance. If every man and woman worth living did not stand up to the job of living, did not take risk and danger and exhaustion beyond exhaustion and go on fighting for one thin hope of victory in the certainty of death, there would not be a human being alive today.

—Rose Wilder Lane

The Discovery of Freedom


Now We Know

How many Rocky Flats workers does it take to change a light bulb?

Forty-three—and that’s no joke.

An internal memorandum written by managers of the Jefferson County nuclear weapons plant describes a 33-step process to perform a simple job on a vital safety system, the replacement of a light bulb in a criticality beacon.

A criticality beacon is a red light, similar to the revolving lamp atop a police car, that warns workers of spontaneous nuclear accidents.

The memo said that it takes at least 43 people 1,087.1 hours to replace the light under a new management system enacted by EB&G, Inc., the private firm operating Rocky Flats for the U.S. Department of Energy.

The same job used to take 12 workers 4.15 hours to accomplish, the memo said.

The dramatic increase in time and labor was needed to bring the plant up to safety standards, the managers said . . . .

The new procedure has 33 steps. It calls for a lead planner to meet with six other people at a work control meeting; talk with other workers who have done the job before, meet again; get signatures from five people at the work control meeting; get the project plans approved by separate officials overseeing safety, logistics, environmental maintenance, operations, waste management and plant scheduling, wait for a monthly criticality beacon test; direct electricians to replace the bulb; and then test and verify the repair.

Many of the steps are written in language only a bureaucrat could love.

For example, Step 13: “SES reviews the Work Package and fills out the SES form. The Planner is notified to pick up the package when the SES is complete. The package is in SES for approximately one week. Since this time is concerned with Time Logistics and PES are working on the BOM, no total time is given. The man hours is an estimate of the actual time SES is working on the package.

The step took 16 hours, the memo said. And it would take 20 more steps—854.1 more hours—before the light bulb finally could be changed.

—Mark Obmascik

Denver Post