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The Roberts Trap is Sprung

By:  Bill Dunne
One of the most overlooked aspects of the year just ended is the vindication of Chief Justice John Roberts -- a vindication that showed up as the national catastrophe known as ObamaCare got rolling.  Roberts may have also doomed Hillary Clinton's chance to live in the White House again... click here to read whole editorial


On Tractors and Bureaucracy




By:  David Deschesne

Editor/Publisher, Fort Fairfield Journal

July 20, 2016



   There are some pretty nice tractors on the market today.  The big names that come to mind are; John Deere, Massey Ferguson, New Holland and White.  The upper-end models that you see out there in the potato fields of Maine are really nice pieces of gear.  From all wheel drive to GPS location systems to get the most efficiency out of planting a field, we’ve come a long way from the John Deere 4020 of my potato picking and harvester working days.

   As private businesses competing for customers’ business, tractor companies have to constantly innovate, come up with better designs, keep their eyes on efficiency and, while these upper end models can be expensive, they have to work toward providing their product at a price point that is more attractive than their competition’s.

   At the end of the day, what you end up with under this system is a group of tractor manufacturers who have the art of designing and building tractors down to a highly efficient process and turn out really nice machines.  In order to keep their overhead costs down, they hire the best engineers they can find, seek the most efficient and best quality of sources for their raw materials and don’t waste a lot of money on excessive administration.  The tractors that come onto the market under this type of system—private enterprise—are all really nice pieces of equipment.  The farmer who is looking to purchase a new tractor for his farming operation has a wide array of choices of machines that are durable, efficient, reliable and profitable.  Any tractor manufacturers who do not produce a tractor with those qualities simply will not be in business because nobody will be interested in buying their gear.  In economics, we “vote with our dollars” and the votes cast when purchasing a tractor determine which tractor manufacturers stay in business and which ones go away.

    Things could be very different, though.  Imagine a world where the government is in charge of overseeing production of tractors.  Let’s say 100 years ago, when the internal combustion engine was being adapted over to farm equipment, the government—in it’s infinite wisdom—determined the possession of a tractor by the entire citizenry was in the public interest and took over the manufacturing and distribution of that equipment.

   Under the government system, the police power would be used to forcefully confiscate taxes from the people.  That money would then be centralized and overseen by a Bureau of Farm Tractors (BFT).  This bureau would then be mandated with overseeing the disbursement of those monies to all of the various State and local tractor manufacturing and distribution points throughout the country and to ensure they are complying with government standards.

   Since the tractor manufacturers under this system are guaranteed a certain income to pay wages, buy materials and produce some form of product that their “customers” - the citizenry - are then mandated to accept and use, there won’t be nearly as much pressure or interest in producing a machine that is more efficient, more cost effective or more durable and profitable to operate than the tractor manufacturer in the next city, or even the next state. 

   Under a government plan, the best and brightest engineers aren’t necessarily sought after because diversity and equal opportunity mandates require a certain number of unqualified people be hired in order to satisfy Congressionally mandated quotas for race, sexual orientation and IQ level.  Under this system, people who have little to no idea how to design and build tractors are then placed in charge of running the factory and distributing the product.

   A government-run tractor company will also feel obligated to make sure its workers are happy and content so a team of psychiatrists and social workers will have to be employed to monitor the feelings of the employees and disburse government-directed guidance to them whenever it is deemed necessary.  Since these psychs and social workers will need to justify their job position and appear to even be relevant, you can expect them to be constantly finding new, subjective “problems” in the workforce that they will have to solve.

   Tractor manufacturers would also have to be charged with worrying about how the citizens who are forced to accept their tractors feel, and how they are interacting with each other in the farming industry.  This can very rapidly escalate the staffing levels of administrators, social workers and psych teams.

   Rather than focusing on the design and manufacture of high quality tractors, the government-run tractor manufacturers would find themselves mired down in complying with Congressional mandates to keep their employees happy.  From shorter work days to nicer break rooms and worrying about men who think they’re women wanting to use the women’s rest rooms, most of the day at these tractor manufacturing companies would be spent on government-mandated social engineering programs.     In order to administer these social engineering programs, the manufacturing companies would, by necessity, be obligated to become top heavy with administration so they can oversee all of these programs that are designed to coddle and comfort the employees—not build high quality, efficient, durable and profitable tractors.

   In addition to a team of inefficient managers, administrators and an endless team of their secretaries, another huge industry of consultants would be built up around providing seminars and legal advice to the administrators and social workers on a weekly or monthly basis.  From anti-bullying conferences, to gender identity conferences and seminars, a large portion of the day for these administrators and social workers would be spent in conference rooms listening to some know-it-all consultant drone on and on about how to not hurt anybody’s feelings and how to revel in the glories of your diversified workforce; pie charts and line graphs abounding.

   So, what would the tractors look like under this business model?  After all, the mission of the manufacturers is to actually produce tractors, isn’t it?  Well, the tractors would be pretty much all the same because the government would have a list of criteria and standards that would have to be met.  The tractors would likely be a uniform color throughout the country, have a uniform list of models, body styles, features, etc.  In parts of the country where the government deems a certain type of tractor is not necessary, it would simply would not be available.

   Since the tractors would be designed and built by people who are not always the most qualified, and have a guaranteed income regardless of the quality of product they produce, quality control must suffer and the durability and reliability will be sorely lacking.

   Citizens, being mandated by law to accept and use these tractors, would suffer from poor workmanship and constant downtime as the shoddily built equipment would be spending a lot more time in the shop, waiting for parts that are also being produced by government workers who are guaranteed a paycheck regardless of whether or not they produce a good product.

   Under the government-run tractor manufacturing system there is no incentive to excel, or strive to achieve any standard greater than the government mandates that all the other tractor manufacturers are forced to comply with because the manufacturer won’t move any more equipment, or make any more money by investing the time and energy into building a better product than they would have if they just kept the equipment at its current level.

   There would be no profit motive to increase the quality of tractors because the manufacturers are providing them to the end users—the citizens—for free and they have to accept what is given them. They have no ability to choose another manufacturer’s product, because technically all manufacturers in the country are the same—they’re the government.   While the employees’ paychecks are guaranteed, even if they produce a sub-standard product, they at least get a paycheck because the citizenry are forced at the barrel of a police officer’s gun to pay their taxes to support the government-run tractor companies.

   As standards decline, and the citizenry complain about the poor quality and durability of the government-produced tractors, there would of course be a team of consulting firms and union bosses who would cry there isn’t enough money to do the job correctly.  If only they had more tax money, the quality of tractors could finally be improved.  Calls for more taxes on the “rich” in order to tap new revenue streams would be offered as referendums or legislation with the sincere belief that if just several billion more dollars were available to fund these ailing government-run tractor manufacturers, all would be well in the world of tractors.

   As any thinking person can see, the problems inherent in a government-run tractor manufacturing business model isn’t one of money—they have all they want already and more money isn’t going to improve their products.  The only thing that will ensure improvement is to get government administration and mandates out of the tractor business altogether.

   Allowing the tractor manufacturers the freedom to choose the best employees, and reaping the profit potentials as a reward for producing a superior product, while competing with other tractor manufacturers who are attempting to do the same, is the only true path to building better, more efficient, durable and profitable tractors.



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