It was recently reported that Gov.-elect Paul Le Page had called on industry and business leaders to help his transition team identify regulations that hinder economic development in Maine.

On the surface it would appear that reducing the burden of regulation on industry is a worthwhile goal. But is important to recognize that regulations that might hinder economic development by imposing costs on business also almost certainly create benefits in the form of improved human health, safety, and environmental protection.

The real question is whether the benefits of any given regulation outweigh its costs or burden. If the benefits can be shown to be greater than the costs, then the regulation should be retained.

As a professional economist, I have been involved in a number of studies of the benefits and costs of regulations to protect human health and safety and the quality if the environment. I know that there have been regulations which do not appear to provide benefits that are worth the costs that they impose on the economy.

But there are also many instances of regulations that provide benefits well in excess of their costs. In addition to focusing on the burdens and costs of regulation, the governor-elect should also examine the benefits that these regulations provide and be careful not to repeal regulations that have benefits greater than costs.

Also, there are many instances where the form of the regulation could be improved so as to reduce its costs without reducing its benefits. Any effort to reduce the burdens of regulations should also seek out these cases and propose reforms of those regulations.

This will often involve greater reliance on market-based incentives such as charges on harmful activities such as discharges of pollutants.

A. Myrick Freeman III, Ph.D.

Georgetown 

Tea party proved its clout with Election Day results 

Considerable criticism of the tea party movement has been made by the “talking heads” of the media.

I would submit that although it was and is an expensive way to get involved, the conduct of the present Congress and the Obama administration has angered the masses enough to make them devote more thought to whom they support to run their government.

The “sleight of hand” of run-of-the-mill politicians to say one thing to get elected but conduct their responsibilities otherwise while in office has been clearly demonstrated over the past 20 months. For example:

Obama stated that every bill sent to him would not be signed for some three days after receipt. The $787 billion, 2,800-page stimulus bill, passed by Congress at 3 a.m. after some 400 pages were added after midnight last February, was signed immediately upon receipt.

Supposedly it was to be spent on “shovel-ready” projects to keep unemployment under 8 percent. The unemployment rate has exceeded 9 percent ever since, and despite the urgency of passing the bill, some $200 billion is yet to be spent.

The government’s fiscal year used to begin July 1. This was changed to Oct. 1 to give Congress more time to prepare meet its responsibility.

On Sept. 29, Congress adjourned until after the November election and raced home to campaign for getting re-elected. In the business world, such action would be grounds for dismissal! Perhaps members’ salaries should be suspended as of Sept. 30 until Congress performs its duty to pass the budget.

The Constitution designated the House the authority to originate all money appropriation bills, and because their elected terms are for only two years, they were to be more responsive to their electors.

The awakened masses known as “the tea party” expressed their dissatisfaction with their representatives in the November election.

John Barritt

Cape Elizabeth 

As food supplies dry up, Fed waters down currency 

For the last year or so I’ve been telling anyone who would listen to stock up on nonperishable food.

There are two reasons. The first is that the environmentalists persuaded the federal government to shut off 90 percent of the water to California’s San Joaquin Valley, turning an area that produces 60 percent to 80 percent of our nation’s agricultural products into a dust bowl, bankrupting countless farmers and pushing unemployment in many small towns over 30 percent.

My reasoning is simple — less water means less food, which means higher prices, so stock up on nonperishables before prices skyrocket.

The second reason is that, despite stating to Congress under oath that we would not monetize the debt, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is doing exactly that.

“Quantitative Easing 2,” quietly announced on Nov. 2 when it was buried under election news, is monetizing (buying back) $600 billion in U.S. debt to increase the amount of money in circulation.

It is called QE2 because there was a QE1 that slipped quietly under the news radar with hardly a mention.

Monetizing the debt has been called the most important financial decision this country has made since going off the gold standard, yet it was slipped in without discussion or debate single-handedly by what we were promised would be the most transparent administration in history .

What does it mean? Well, we issue Treasury bonds, then print the money to buy our own bonds. So we are “borrowing” money from ourselves with no way to pay it back except by more borrowing. Make sense to you? It makes inflation inevitable and hyperinflation probable.

Most Americans, especially the young, have never lived through hard times and have an “It can’t happen here” attitude. I hope they are right. My grandparents, who lived through two world wars and the Great Depression, knew better.

That’s my opinion. I hope I’m wrong.

Lee Hague

Acton 

An unanswered question about Dreamers Cabaret 

I have one pressing question about the recent flap concerning Dreamers Cabaret (an alleged strip club in Westbrook where, at 1 a.m., police reportedly found women “dressed for entertainment” serving coffee to men the owner identified as “plumbers”):

The question is this: How do you get a plumber after 5 p.m.?

Steve Collins

Bridgton