No More Cronyism: Let’s Have Government Acknowledge The Paperless 21st Century

Published January 21, 2018

You have, of course, spent the last decade-plus watching the entirety of the actually-private sector “go paperless.”

Meaning rather than continue to snail mail your bills and statements and other correspondence – you can choose instead to communicate with these companies electronically.

You know, because we’ve invented this thing called the Internet. And with it comes cool interactive tools like email and websites. You can stop paying for envelopes and stamps – and yet actually pay your bills, gather information and have your questions answered…exponentially faster.

God bless capitalism.

But enter the archenemy of capitalism – government. Specifically in this instance – The Feds.

Under our Orwellian government, all private companies are equal – but some are more equal than others. Some suffer under whole additional swaths of regulations that others do not.

So it is with mutual fund companies. They can’t join the paperless revolution – without first playing “Mother May I” with DC.

And thankfully, finally, in 2015 (not 2005 – 2015) the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) started a rule-making process that would allow mutual fund companies to go paperless. Which will save the fund companies and their customers – an estimated 94 million individual investors own mutual funds – about $2 billion over the first ten years. And environmentalists rejoice – it will save about two million trees a year. 

Enter the other side of the government coin – the government cronies. Because, again – all companies are equal, but some are more equal than others:

“(W)hat was logical progress to some loomed as a menace to others—notably the American Forest & Paper Association and the Envelope Manufacturers Association. The two industries’ jointly funded group Consumers for Paper Options rallied retiree and consumer groups to join their campaign, decrying what they call the government’s ‘rush to digitize.’ They persuaded a bipartisan coalition of politicians – especially from the paper-heavy state of Maine – to threaten legislation blocking the rule.”

Get that screaming joke? “Rush to digitize?” It is now 2017. The Internet is 1/6th of our entire $18-trillion-per-year economy. Trust me – you missed the rush:

“They prevailed, beating back the forces of the 21st century, at least for a few more years. At a mid-July public hearing on the issue, Mary Jo White, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission,  noted the proposal had drawn ‘considerable attention.’ She ultimately decided to drop the plan, according to people familiar with the matter. A formal announcement is planned this fall.”

Yet another win for Government Luddites – and the cronies they serve. Hip-hip-boo-ray:

“‘Millions of our fellow Americans will be left out in an information desert,’ Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Maine Republican leading the pro-paper faction, warned on the House floor July 6, should regulators curtail the mass dissemination of 1,000-page semiannual and annual reports detailing things like ‘Affiliated Broker Transactions’ and ‘Basis for Approval of Investment Advisory Contracts.’

“Republican Susan Collins, the senior senator from the Pine Tree State, earlier this month issued a statement warning of ‘confusion and potential financial discord among the Americans who receive these financial disclosures.'”

Ahhh, Maine – renowned the world over for its production of free market-loving conservative Republicans.

Which brings us to the most nonsensical part of this whole heap of nonsense.

The SEC wasn’t going to outlaw paper correspondence. The SEC was going to simply make it – an opt-in option. Anyone who still wants snail mail paper – can still receive snail mail paper. The mutual fund companies will very happily provide a toll-free number – for these people to make the papered request.

So the Government Luddites blocking this are…anti-choice. And anti-modernization. And anti-Reality. And….

Which brings us to Republican Congressmen Rodney Frelinghuysen and Tom Graves – respectively Chairmen of the Appropriations and Financial Services and General Government Committees.

The Senate may try to slip into a government-funding bill – a provision banning the SEC from allowing mutual fund companies to go pro-choice-paperless.

The two Chairmen have rightly, thankfully rebuffed previous such efforts. Here’s hoping they’ll do it again. And again. And again. Lather, rinse, repeat – as often as necessary.

Those of us on this side of the century line – know there are a whole host of very reasonable reasons to allow mutual fund companies to go pro-choice-paperless.

To name but one – check your nearest calendar for what year it is.

[Originally Published at RedState]