There seems to be an epidemic of bad decisions recently. No we are not talking about Jussie Smollett. Wow, Jussie’s problems have really gotten worse since we started this post. Individuals, not just Jussie but all of us, make lots of bad decisions. Most of the time, like when we make a bad decision at the bridge table, the impact is limited unless partner goes postal.
Sidebar: Sometimes you escape the ramifications of bad decisions. Thursday we made what we felt was an epic defense error causing our score to go from plus 50 to minus 140. But under ordinal scoring it made no difference as there were no scores between those two outcomes so we got two out of three despite our error. End Sidebar.
Epically bad business decisions are usually zero-sum games. When Montgomery Ward (see Decline) anticipated the recession that never came after World War II, it was bad for them but good for Sears and JC Penny. Most really bad decisions come from government because the can enforce them because they have the means.
We are not saying we have collected all of the really bad decisions but we would look at The Donald’s state of emergency, NYC and Amazon, NY state and energy, and Marco Rubio and innovation.
The Donald paid homage to his immediate predecessor by declaring a state of emergency to build some fence on the southern boarder. It is a terrible idea because it harks back to the previous administration and its tendency to make decisions with a phone and a pen rather than legislating. As the NRO editors tell us it is bad but not all bad because:
He will also access other pots of money that don’t require a declaration of emergency, and here he may be on much firmer ground legally.
We hope he loses every legal challenge related to the state of emergency. Otherwise, every president will use it. Kamala will cause even more mischief.
Amazon has abandoned its plans to have a headquarters in NYC. The Washington Examiner headline says this is a win for [the media darling (MD)] and a black eye for the NYC mayor and NY governor. The Examiner has second thoughts about MD:
Then again, maybe “triumph” should come with an asterisk next to it. Gianaris and [MD] may have gotten their way, besting far more powerful political figures, but at the cost of the estimated 25,000 jobs that the Amazon deal was projected to bring to their part of the city.
Since NY and NYC tax folks and things in every way they can think of they are in need of folks with jobs and assets. It was a bad idea to give lots of incentives to Amazon and an even worse idea to chase them away. Holman at the WSJ thinks it will cause difficulties for the NY left. It couldn’t happen to a nicer group. [Alert: satire]
NY has some strange energy policies. The costs of these policies are coming home to roost. Robert Bryce has a story at the WSJ that you should read several time to soak it all up. NY state has banned fracking. To help with the comparison, Pennsylvania has not. NY has also blocked or delayed gas pipelines. Here is Robert’s summary:
In 2008 New York drillers produced about 150 million cubic feet of natural gas a day—not enough to meet all the state’s needs, but still a substantial amount. That same year legislators in Albany passed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, the process used to wring oil and gas out of underground rock formations. In 2015 the Cuomo administration made the moratorium permanent. By 2018 New York’s gas production had declined so much that the Energy Information Administration quit publishing numbers on it.
In some areas of NY, Consolidated Edison is no longer accepting new customers. How are things in PA? Robert tells us:
At the end of 2018, Pennsylvania drillers were producing about 18 billion cubic feet of gas a day. That’s more gas than Canada now produces. [That is more than 100 times what NY was producing ten years ago]
By keeping its natural gas in the ground, New York has lost out on jobs and tax revenue. By 2015, some 106,000 people were directly employed by Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry, making it a bigger employer than the state’s famous steel sector. This year Pennsylvania’s state government is expected to take in some $247 million in gas-related fees.
Beyond the fees there is lots of income and spending for PA to tax too.
At NRO Samuel Hammond tells us that Marco Rubio wants a national innovation strategy. Marco is the chair of the Senate Small Business Committee. Samuel summarizes a report from the committee that supports industrial policy:
“This report’s central conclusion is that the U.S. cannot escape or avoid decisions about industrial policy,” its authors write, after opening with an extended quotation from Alexander Hamilton’s “Report on Manufactures.”
The committee doesn’t get its conclusions exactly wrong but it is close:
But what makes the report interesting, particularly from a Republican-chaired committee, is its suggestion that America shouldn’t merely punish China for unfair trade practices, but also should pursue a national innovation strategy of similar ambition.
The WTO should punish China. The federal government should stay out of the market and the punishing countries business. Please say it isn’t so Marco (and Samuel). This is the Green New Deal for the GOP. It is a really foolish idea that might have some electoral resonance.
Our summary is that the bad decisions by NYC and NY are less of a problem because folks can freely leave NYC and NY. Of course, these decisions are worse on the poor because it is more difficult for them to relocate. The good news is that the comparison between NY and PA help us avoid the Green New Deal.
Fake states of emergency and industrial policy at the federal level are much more worrisome than the foibles of NY politics. NY has instructed us on what not to do at the federal level. When we do foolish things at the federal level folks and organizations have a much more difficult time leaving or adapting.