The Devourer of Dreams — a requiem for Ukrainian aspirations

I stand in utter, horrified, awe at the density, enormity, and sheer stupidity of Ukraine’s bureaucracy. It is a hell of futility and waste — an amorphous, brutish, rank, smothering blob of contradicting rules, locked offices, and stamped documents.

Yes, I know. In western countries bureaucracy is also evil, but you can at least discern a purpose. You understand your enemy’s logic. It is there to control you. It is there to enrich politicians, their friends, or the bureaucrats themselves, to kill competition or efficiently extract money, perhaps. But this miserable place . . . . dear Lord. So pointless, so ponderous.

Perhaps Western bureaucracies have arisen like tumors atop wealth accumulated during freer times. Ukraine was never free. The Soviet Union was not reality but “a monstrous caricature of reality.” Upon this caricature, in the hope of imitating the West’s wealth, Ukraine’s aspiring elite readily built shoddy imitations of the tumors growing atop it. They’ve combined the lingering institutions and habits of socialism with the parasitic institutions of the West.

What has arisen is hideous altar to some sadistic god, festooned with politicians’ smiling faces and patriotic appeals. It looms terrifyingly, incomprehensibly, casting a fetid shadow over all facets of life. It is the alter upon which Ukrainians sacrifice their dreams, ambitions, and what little time God has given them on the Earth.

However, it is not the altar itself which perplexes me most, but the masses who kneel before it, come to worship its many heads. Yes, native born Ukrainians will be the first to point out its difficulties, to condemn it, insult it with blazing intensity, but what they’ll cling to to the last bit of strength in their cracked, laborer’s hands is the idea that such an altar is necessary. It is just a matter of swapping this face for that one, this political appeal (victory over the Nazis, seventy years later, still the enemy of enemies) with that one (preserving the Ukrainian language).

The thought of conducting peaceful, mutually beneficial commerce with your fellow man without an array of permissions and constant inspections? Unthinkable! The idea that marriage should not be the government’s business? Radical! The thought of not being REQUIRED to register yourself at some address? Impossible! How could such a society function? Let us not even speak of the right to defend oneself.

No. The problem with Ukraine, they say, is that people do not follow the rules. There are rules, and if only more people followed them, things would be as they should be. Things would be orderly and proper. (I wonder how many more rules are required for society to finally achieve perfection.)

It is as if 46 million innocent people have been wrongly convicted and imprisoned, their hopes and dreams sentenced to death. And when one of them finds a loose brick in the prison, digs under a wall with his bare, bloody hands, files away a bar on his cage after many years of dedicated effort, rather than rejoicing, Ukrainians condemn their fellow prisoner. He’s not following the rules! They’ll grab his ankles to drag him back into his cage. They criticize the guard for not being more watchful, for aiding the aspiring renegade (as the guards here are known do), because he was breaking the rules, conducting commerce without the full and proper array of permissions, and only bad people break rules.

So this is it: a portrait of demographic suicide in Ukraine. Suicide by bureaucracy.

I’ll return, as I often do, to Hans Hermann Hoppe, not because I hold much hope of being heard, but because we should all blaspheme at unholy altars: Who owns your body? And if you own your body, who owns your labor? And if you own your labor, who owns the fruit of that labor?

8 Comments

  1. Ed K

    Suicide by bureaucracy should also be posted in
    Lost Republic website and sent as letter to editor
    of various newspapers and other web sites.

    When posting such a quality writing, I suggest
    columnar style for ease of readers.

    Since this is relevant to USA, suggest submitting it
    as letter to editor of Washington Times. Maybe
    editing to show parallel with US.

    Finnally a demonstration of ability, keep it up.

    Reply
  2. Ed K

    This article describes what Marxism leads to. Ukraine
    was a Communist country until its collapse. Understand
    that Ukraine while adapting a type of parliamentary
    government, never really left Marxism behind.

    With a little work this writing could describe any
    socialist country or what socialism leads to.

    The bureaucracy described here is really result of
    Marxism and its march to dictatorship by the
    proletariat. That is individual is controlled by state.

    The writer is now being controlled by the state.
    He is in the Gullag…

    Reply
  3. elmer

    Roman, this doesn’t quite jive with the fact that at least 60% of Zookraine’s economy is underground.

    Or maybe it does – people learned to get around the soviet system, and that continues today in the post-sovok union territories.

    There was supposedly “full employment” in the sovok union – hence the bureaucracy with make-work.

    In the post-sovok union, what would people do if they didn’t work in a huge bureaucracy?

    Plus, there is always the issue of buying votes through patronage in huge bureaucracies.

    I’m not saying it’s right.

    Reply
    1. Roman

      I do think about your criticism — I describe the bureaucracy here to American friends and they think: “How does anything get done?”

      Americans have trouble imagining such a big black market economy.

      “In the post-sovok union, what would people do if they didn’t work in a huge bureaucracy?”

      The answer: Produce goods and services other people voluntarily pay for.

      Reply
  4. Ed K

    I would suggest that the lady consider Ukraine for
    a plant except for its bureaucracy as noted herein:

    RAHN: Penalized for success
    Regulatory growth means business death
    By Richard Rahn
    The Washington Times

    Monday, December 10, 2012

    Illustration Regulations by Alexander Hunter for The Washington Times

    Last week, Christine Jacobs, the CEO of Theragenics Corp.,
    a public company listed on the New York Stock Exchange that
    makes medical devices and is involved in cutting-edge cancer
    cures, wrote a letter to President Obama explaining why it
    was necessary to “begin moving our U.S. manufacturing to
    Costa Rica.” The power players in Washington still do not
    get that many businesses are being forced to flee America or
    just plain shut down because it is no longer profitable or too
    risky to continue to do business in the historical home of
    entrepreneurial capitalism.
    Businesses operating in the United States, and even

    businesses outside of the country that have a small nexus

    with the U.S., are going to be hit with a slew of expensive

    job- and growth-destroying taxes and regulations beginning

    the first of the new year, even if the “fiscal cliff” is avoided.

    Financial and securities regulations have become huge

    business- and job-killers. During the last six years, the

    United States has lost nearly 20 percent of its banks

    (7,401 banks in 2006 and now only 6,168), but during

    those same six years, the number of employees at the

    Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. — one of the bank

    insurance and regulatory agencies — has grown by about

    70 percent, from 4,475 to 7,537, or more than one

    employee per bank. The FDIC is only one of many

    bank regulators. There were more than 26,000 banks

    in 1913 in the United States when the Federal Reserve,

    the primary bank regulator, was established, and now

    there are only one-fourth as many.

    Theragenics makes “medical devices for prostate cancer,

    vascular access and wound closure.” In her letter to

    Mr. Obama, Ms. Jacobs noted that her company has

    four factories in four states in the U.S., which employ

    626 people. She stated: “In our 30-year history we have

    treated over 200,000 men for prostate cancer, and we

    have been proud of our workforce and proud to have

    treated so many dads, brothers and husbands for cancer.

    As a public company we have fallen prey to the heavy

    burden of being public with increased expenses associated

    with [Sarbanes Oxley] and now Dodd Frank.”

    She also reminded the president that she had written to him

    back in 2009, when she stated, “We were paying about

    $8,000 per employee per year to be public and comply

    with the new Dodd Frank regulations. That money could

    be better spent on jobs and expansion.”

    Under Obamacare, there is a new tax specifically on

    the gross revenue of medical device manufacturers.

    Most people (outside of Washington) understand that

    if we tax something, we get less of it. A higher tax on

    medical device manufacturers means fewer and more

    expensive medical devices that save lives, and less

    research and development to develop new and better

    devices. As Ms. Jacobs explains: “Our products are

    for people with prostate cancer, heart disease, breast

    cancer and orthopedic knee or hip surgeries. Our 626

    employees’ futures are now uncertain. The cost of regulation,

    legislation and now the Device Tax have provided an

    atmosphere that is close to untenable.”

    Ms. Jacobs, who started out as a nurse with a passion

    for science, has headed Theragenics Corp. for the past

    two decades. She is a classic entrepreneur, an all-

    American woman, who likes to hunt, fish and go to the

    symphony. She serves on the boards of many civic

    institutions and other organizations. Now, having built

    a successful company that competes in the global

    marketplace, she is being forced by ignorant and

    misguided legislators and regulators to move operations

    outside of the United States. She concluded her letter

    to the president: “Our 30-year-old company has done

    all our country has asked of it and has been punished.

    I am immensely sad at this writing.”

    The Washington statists love to talk about how compassionate

    they are and how we need to “give” them more of our money

    and be regulated by their wisdom. In fact, they misspend our

    money every day to feather their own nests and curry favor

    with media sycophants. Most of those members of Congress

    who voted for the additional tax on medical device

    manufacturers did not do so to deliberately cause excess

    deaths and job losses. By failing to think through the

    consequences of their actions, however, they were engaged

    in “willful negligence,” which is a felony when not committed

    by those in government. In this case, they were clearly engaged

    in the ultimate “fatal conceit” as described by the great

    economist and philosopher F.A. Hayek. America is stagnant

    because we are punishing and pushing out the Christine

    Jacobses and rewarding those who work in the regulatory

    and taxing agencies and their enablers. We ought to be doing

    the opposite.

    Richard W. Rahn is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute

    and chairman of the Institute for Global Economic Growth.

    RAHN: Penalized for success
    Regulatory growth means business death
    By Richard Rahn
    The Washington Times

    Monday, December 10, 2012

    Illustration Regulations by Alexander Hunter for The Washington Times

    Last week, Christine Jacobs, the CEO of Theragenics Corp.,
    a public company listed on the New York Stock Exchange that
    makes medical devices and is involved in cutting-edge cancer
    cures, wrote a letter to President Obama explaining why it
    was necessary to “begin moving our U.S. manufacturing to
    Costa Rica.” The power players in Washington still do not
    get that many businesses are being forced to flee America or
    just plain shut down because it is no longer profitable or too
    risky to continue to do business in the historical home of
    entrepreneurial capitalism.
    Businesses operating in the United States, and even

    businesses outside of the country that have a small nexus

    with the U.S., are going to be hit with a slew of expensive

    job- and growth-destroying taxes and regulations beginning

    the first of the new year, even if the “fiscal cliff” is avoided.

    Financial and securities regulations have become huge

    business- and job-killers. During the last six years, the

    United States has lost nearly 20 percent of its banks

    (7,401 banks in 2006 and now only 6,168), but during

    those same six years, the number of employees at the

    Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. — one of the bank

    insurance and regulatory agencies — has grown by about

    70 percent, from 4,475 to 7,537, or more than one

    employee per bank. The FDIC is only one of many

    bank regulators. There were more than 26,000 banks

    in 1913 in the United States when the Federal Reserve,

    the primary bank regulator, was established, and now

    there are only one-fourth as many.

    Theragenics makes “medical devices for prostate cancer,

    vascular access and wound closure.” In her letter to

    Mr. Obama, Ms. Jacobs noted that her company has

    four factories in four states in the U.S., which employ

    626 people. She stated: “In our 30-year history we have

    treated over 200,000 men for prostate cancer, and we

    have been proud of our workforce and proud to have

    treated so many dads, brothers and husbands for cancer.

    As a public company we have fallen prey to the heavy

    burden of being public with increased expenses associated

    with [Sarbanes Oxley] and now Dodd Frank.”

    She also reminded the president that she had written to him

    back in 2009, when she stated, “We were paying about

    $8,000 per employee per year to be public and comply

    with the new Dodd Frank regulations. That money could

    be better spent on jobs and expansion.”

    Under Obamacare, there is a new tax specifically on

    the gross revenue of medical device manufacturers.

    Most people (outside of Washington) understand that

    if we tax something, we get less of it. A higher tax on

    medical device manufacturers means fewer and more

    expensive medical devices that save lives, and less

    research and development to develop new and better

    devices. As Ms. Jacobs explains: “Our products are

    for people with prostate cancer, heart disease, breast

    cancer and orthopedic knee or hip surgeries. Our 626

    employees’ futures are now uncertain. The cost of regulation,

    legislation and now the Device Tax have provided an

    atmosphere that is close to untenable.”

    Ms. Jacobs, who started out as a nurse with a passion

    for science, has headed Theragenics Corp. for the past

    two decades. She is a classic entrepreneur, an all-

    American woman, who likes to hunt, fish and go to the

    symphony. She serves on the boards of many civic

    institutions and other organizations. Now, having built

    a successful company that competes in the global

    marketplace, she is being forced by ignorant and

    misguided legislators and regulators to move operations

    outside of the United States. She concluded her letter

    to the president: “Our 30-year-old company has done

    all our country has asked of it and has been punished.

    I am immensely sad at this writing.”

    The Washington statists love to talk about how compassionate

    they are and how we need to “give” them more of our money

    and be regulated by their wisdom. In fact, they misspend our

    money every day to feather their own nests and curry favor

    with media sycophants. Most of those members of Congress

    who voted for the additional tax on medical device

    manufacturers did not do so to deliberately cause excess

    deaths and job losses. By failing to think through the

    consequences of their actions, however, they were engaged

    in “willful negligence,” which is a felony when not committed

    by those in government. In this case, they were clearly engaged

    in the ultimate “fatal conceit” as described by the great

    economist and philosopher F.A. Hayek. America is stagnant

    because we are punishing and pushing out the Christine

    Jacobses and rewarding those who work in the regulatory

    and taxing agencies and their enablers. We ought to be doing

    the opposite.

    Richard W. Rahn is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute

    and chairman of the Institute for Global Economic Growth.

    Reply

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