I doubt that many of my readers live a life that even comes close to what Karla and I experience. In the first seven years after we got married we followed the 9-to-5 urban routine, five days a week. When we lived in Hollywood we got up in the morning and drove for ten minutes to our office, at first in downtown Los Angeles, then later to the mid-Wilshire district. At roughly 5 PM we returned home. After building our business and reputation, we had all of our clients trained well enough that we could close down and head for the hills for a week at a time. We eventually ended up taking six weeks off every year. Sounds positively European!
Currently we have a 12-to-14-week busy season during which we have to work seven days a week. In the off-season we can relax a bit but we still have to keep up horse care and email and telephone correspondence, plus spend an ungodly amount of time satisfying government requirements for the Forest Service, the Park Service, the Internal Revenue Service, the Board of Equalization, the Franchise Tax Board, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and more—all the agencies that want their piece of the action (and our MONEY). To keep everything on the up-and-up we have to hire legal and accounting services. They take their portion of our money also. It seems that so much of our time and resources are dedicated to supporting a very large contingent of non-producers. Imagine how many lawyers and accountants would be out of work if worthless givernment (as my brother-in-law calls them) agencies and jobs didn’t exist.
If private companies ran some of the agencies now run by government, we could save so much money! One very recent example is the launching of an earth-orbiting rocket by SpaceX. Their Falcon 9 rocket propelled the Dragon capsule which made two orbits before returning to earth. When it was discovered a few days before launch that there was a flaw in the rocket engine, SpaceX fixed it on site. NASA would have, following policy, removed and replaced the entire engine at great expense and missed the launch schedule. (A NASA engineer told the SpaceX people he envied them—policy directives won’t let NASA guys do stuff like that.)
Years ago I remember reading about a NASA engineer who was given the job of designing a laser reflector to be placed on the moon by the first astronauts to land there. It was to be deployed so earthbound astronomers could measure much more accurately the distance between earth and moon. The engineer bought some mail-order parts from Edmund Scientific, a company in Barrington, New Jersey that specialized in selling to hobbyists. He hired a local machinist to make a lightweight frame to hold the retro-reflectors. It ended up costing $2,500 for two of the finished reflector arrays. He delivered them to NASA, ready for launch. They informed him that he had not followed procedure, and that they would take the project from there. The result? A duplication of his work with a price tag of $500,000. They probably had to spread the job to sub-agencies in all 50 states.
It’s going to be a very rainy several days here; five to ten inches of rain is the prediction. We have lots of food and firewood. We don’t need to go anywhere. If power lines fall, we have our own electricity. If roads flood and there are rockslides, we don’t need to drive. We are very lucky. We simply hunker down and spend more time fulfilling state and federal government requirements.