Free Markets, Free People
Yes, just three. You’re right, I could probably make it 30 or 300. 3,000 even! But for brevity sake, three current examples where government has no business yet feels somehow justified in intruding or regulating in a manner that limits freedom.
First is an example of excessive regulation which in reality is an example of crony capitalism, where a regulation or mandatory licensing creates a state enforced bar to entry into an industry.
Louisiana has a plethora of such laws which regulate or license all sorts of things that few of the other states do. An example? The manufacture of caskets is illegal unless, well, you read it:
Brown, a soft-spoken man who is only the fifth leader of a monastery that dates to 1889, said he had not known that in Louisiana only licensed funeral directors are allowed to sell “funeral merchandise.”
That means that St. Joseph Abbey must either give up the casket-selling business or become a licensed funeral establishment, which would require a layout parlor for 30 people, a display area for the coffins, the employment of a licensed funeral director and an embalming room.
“Really,” Brown said. “It’s just a big box.”
Indeed it is. And buyers should have a choice as to whether to buy it or some other casket. They likely could pick up the Abbey’s “big box” for much less than it might cost to buy a similar casket in a "licensed funeral director’s” place given the required overhead that the regulatory mandate places on such entities.
In effect, the mandate acts as a high bar to entry. It is likely the existing funeral industry in LA helped write the law. That’s called “crony capitalism”. The Abbey simply provides the illustration of the result. If freedom equals choice, LA is in the choice limiting business with regulatory and licensing regime like this.
Some good news on that front:
The monks won round one in July, when U.S. District Judge Stanwood R. Duval Jr. ruled Louisiana’s restrictions unconstitutional, saying “the sole reason for these laws is the economic protection of the funeral industry.”
As you might imagine, the other side is not happy. So is it the state that is appealing? Well not the state, exactly:
The Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors, which has argued that the law protects consumers, has appealed, and the circuit court in New Orleans will hear the case in early June.
That’s right … the protected want to continue to have their state protected industry … protected. Good lord, if consumers have real choice, well, they might not buy the crony capitalist’s overpriced “funeral merchandise”.
And, of course, that state isn’t the only one with choice limiters working to cut down on your freedom. Our next two examples come from the state of New York. I know, shocking.
Case one – Mayor Bloomberg of NYC has decided that you fat folks just shouldn’t have the right to decide (there’s that choice thing again) on the size of “sugary drink” you can buy.
New York City plans to enact a far-reaching ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts, in the most ambitious effort yet by the Bloomberg administration to combat rising obesity.
The proposed ban would affect virtually the entire menu of popular sugary drinks found in delis, fast-food franchises and even sports arenas, from energy drinks to pre-sweetened iced teas. The sale of any cup or bottle of sweetened drink larger than 16 fluid ounces — about the size of a medium coffee, and smaller than a common soda bottle — would be prohibited under the first-in-the-nation plan, which could take effect as soon as next March.
The measure would not apply to diet sodas, fruit juices, dairy-based drinks like milkshakes, or alcoholic beverages; it would not extend to beverages sold in grocery or convenience stores.
“Obesity is a nationwide problem, and all over the United States, public health officials are wringing their hands saying, ‘Oh, this is terrible,’ ” Mr. Bloomberg said in an interview on Wednesday in City Hall’s sprawling Governor’s Room.
“New York City is not about wringing your hands; it’s about doing something,” he said. “I think that’s what the public wants the mayor to do.”
Nanny Bloomberg assumes New Yorkers need a mommy. That they’re fat because of their diet of sugary drinks of a certain size. He’s sure if he limits you to 16 fluid ounces of such belly wash they’ll slim right down. Nanny Bloomberg also assumes that the public wants him to intrude into every deli, fast-food franchise, food cart and sports arena to save them from themselves.
Because that’s a nanny’s job – limit choice. Limit freedom. All for the common good, of course. (added: here’s a distant cousin’s view – “Sixteen Ounces of Bull”. Amen, cuz).
Case 2? Well it seems a couple of state legislators in NY want to outlaw anonymous posting on the internet. A couple of Republicans, by the way.
New York State Senator Thomas O’Mara recently proposed legislation that would ban anonymous postings on websites in his state. The bill requires citizens posting on any blog, social network, message board or other forum, to turn over their full names, home addresses and IP address to web site administrators for public posting. Supposedly it is being pushed as an “anti-bullying” step.
His cohort in this nonsense, however, reveals the real purpose. State Assemblyman Jim Conte released a statement saying:
…the legislation will help cut down on the types of mean-spirited and baseless political attacks that add nothing to the real debate and merely seek to falsely tarnish the opponent’s reputation by using the anonymity of the Web. By removing these posts, this bill will help to ensure that there is more accurate information available to voters on their prospective candidates, giving them a better assessment of the candidates they have to choose from.
Or, the “let’s limit free speech to protect politician’s reputations” bill.
As the Center for Competitive Politics points out:
Anonymous speech has played a part in our political process since the very founding of our nation. Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison wrote the Federalist Papers, which where primarily targeting voters in New York, under various pseudonyms. The Supreme Court upheld this precedent in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission, noting:
“[u]nder our Constitution, anonymous pamphleteering is not a pernicious, fraudulent practice, but an honorable tradition of advocacy and of dissent. Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority.” McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm’n, 514 U.S. 334, 357 (1995)
“But political speech by its nature will sometimes have unpalatable consequences, and, in general, our society accords greater weight to the value of free speech than to the dangers of its misuse.” McIntyre, 514 U.S. 334, 357 (1995)
Everyday in just about every way, our freedoms are under assault at all levels of government in this country. I spend a lot of time recording those at a federal level. But just as pernicious and certainly just as dangerous are those at local and state levels.
The cumulative result is we live in a much less free society than we did 100 years ago. 50 years ago. in fact, 20 years ago.
These three examples can indeed be multiplied by hundreds if not thousands. They are fairly common unfortunately. They cost a lot to enforce. They’re unnecessary. Most important though, in each case they limit choice and thereby freedom.
Frog. Pot. Rising heat.
Time to start getting serious about turning off the freedom limiting burner.
Q: Why doesn’t Delaware fall into the ocean?
A: Because Maryland sucks.
Q: Why doesn’t California fall into the ocean?
A: Because Maryland really sucks.
I see that your financial picture is looking rather dicey again. Sorry to hear that. Who could have guessed that high taxes, profligate spending and a general hostility to business would lead to such things? No worries, though. I’m sure political leaders will continue to work hard at righting the ship and get Maryland sailing along smoothly again (how is that plan to repeal the laws of economics coming anyway?).
On a related note, I understand that the Maryland legislature, in collaboration with Gov. O’Malley, has passed a new tax on all six-figure income earners in Maryland. Well, bully for you! That’ll teach those nasty capitalists to stop being so productive. And Gaia knows that they really need to pay their fair share (I mean, how is it that the top 20% of earners only pays about 68% of the income taxes? How’s that “fair”?). So, here’s hoping that works out for you (fingers crossed!).
Of course, I seem to recall that the last time you all did something like this (with that “Millionaires Tax” thingy), we here in Virginia experienced a bit of an influx of former Marylanders. Not too many that we couldn’t handle it, mind you, and probably fewer than some thought. But it does raise an issue, especially since the latest tax scheme stands to affect a much larger portion of Maryland’s population. While we’re always happy to welcome you all into the Commonwealth, we’d really appreciate it if you’d leave things here the way you found them.
You see, all too often when Virginia takes in refugees of high tax and high regulation states, they tend to bring a lot of those policies with them. They seem to really like our neighborhoods, schools and business environment, but for some reason they get all worked up about the fact that our government doesn’t spend as much money as they’re used to (in fact, we’ve actually had a budget surplus the past couple of years, and look to do so again this year!). They also tend to push for more state intrusion into our lives. Thing is, we really don’t like that. (In fact, it’s a fairly common complaint in the South.)
You see, before they came, we were doing just fine. Sure, some of us moved to places like New York and California so that we could enjoy that wonderful embrace of the Nanny State, but for the most part it’s been the other way around: people moving from high-tax/high-regulation states to places like Northern Virginia. We completely understand why you would want to leave a place whose policies increase your costs of living, impair your livelihoods, and generally intrude on your lives in unwanted ways. That’s why we try not to do that sort of thing here (albeit, with some annoying exceptions). Problem is, when you all move in, you start enacting all the same policies that made the place you left so bad. We’d all really appreciate it if you wouldn’t do that.
So, like I said, I really hope that whole tax-the-hell-outta-the-rich thing works for you. If it doesn’t, and your looking for change of scenery, you’ll always be welcomed with open arms on this side of the Potomac. Come on over, make yourselves comfortable and set a spell. Just don’t go touching anything.
Michael J. Wade
I come down on the side of the former – a violation of my civil rights. When does the government unilaterally get to decide if I’m able to talk to someone (or communicate by other means, such as Twitter) on a device I’ve contracted with a private company and for which they provide service? When it sees a compelling public safety risk.
And what would define that public safety risk? Well that’s kind of up in the air. Take the expected riots in Chicago for the NATO summit.
According to the Daily Beast, a little known Bush era regulation gives law enforcement the ability to jam cell phones … you know like they did in Tehran when the people attempted to stand up to their government. Or Syria?
Not only do the FBI and Secret Service have standing authority to jam signals, but they along with state and local authorities can also push for the shutdown of cell towers, thanks to a little-known legacy of the Bush administration: “Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) 303," which lays out the nation’s official “Emergency Wireless Protocols.”
The protocols were developed after the 2005 London bombings in a process that calls to mind an M.C. Escher work. First, the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC) formed a task force— composed of anonymous government officials and executives from Cingular, Microsoft, Motorola, Sprint, and Verizon—that issued a private report to President Bush. Another acronym-dragging committee, also meeting in secret, then approved the task force’s recommendations. Thus, according to NSTAC’s 2006–07 annual issue review, SOP 303 was born.
"In time of national emergency," the review says, SOP 303 gives “State Homeland Security Advisors, their designees, or representatives of the DHS Homeland Security Operations Center” the power to call for “the termination of private wireless network connections… within an entire metropolitan area.” The decision is subject to review by the National Coordinating Center, a government-industry group responsible for the actual mechanics of the shutdown. The NCC is supposed to “authenticate” the shutdown via “a series of questions.” But SOP 303 does not specify, at least not publicly, what would constitute a “national emergency,” or what questions the NCC then asks “to determine if the shutdown is a necessary action.”
“[T]he termination of private wireless network connections …”. That should send a chill up your spine. This is the realm of dictatorship.
What if I have nothing to do with whatever the disturbance in the area might be? What if I have an emergency? What if I can’t get to a land line? Who in the hell are these people to deny me access to a private service I pay for and they don’t?
And all for their convenience, because that’s the point. Protesters use wireless services and social media like Twitter to organize.
Instead of Law Enforcement learning to monitor that and react sufficiently well to blunt its effect, they prefer to use the sledge hammer approach and shut down service to all in an area.
I have a contract with a provider. That provider agrees to provide me uninterrupted service for payment. I pay. Government decides to void that contract at its own whim and possibly endanger my life and safety by doing so.
Oh, and here’s a little ground truth:
“It’s the nature of law enforcement to push the envelope,” said Eugene O’Donnell, a former New York City police instructor and professor of police practice at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “It’s act first and litigate second.”
Understatement of the year. For instance:
While it’s against the law for individuals or nongovernmental organizations to sell or use jammers, the devices are easily found online. The U.S. military was among the first to use communications shutdowns, and local government demand for the technology has been building for years, even as the legal rules for its use have remained ill-defined. Prison wardens want to snuff out the use of smuggled cellphones by inmates; school officials hope to disable students’ phones; the National Transportation Safety Board wants to disable all “portable electronic devices within reach of the driver” while cars are in motion.
I’m sure you can dream up many more rights abusing nanny state scenarios (yeah, jamming illegal prison cell phones actually seems legit) than those listed. Imagine a state banning cell phone use in cars and installing jammers along all major highways. Imagine a car wreck with injuries. Imagine the law suits to follow.
For once the ACLU and I are on the same side:
The ACLU, Verizon, and a coalition of public-interest groups noted that cellphone blackouts would, with few exceptions, violate the Constitution and federal communication law, as well as threaten public safety by eliminating the means to share vital information or call 911.
Now other efforts to cut through the legal haze have emerged. In response to the wireless shutdown in San Francisco last summer, California State Sen. Alex Padilla introduced what would be a first-of-its-kind bill stipulating that to cut off service a judge must sign off that the move is necessary to avert “significant dangers to public health, safety or welfare.” If approved, the bill, which has the backing of the American Civil Liberties Union, could become the gold standard for state policy. San Francisco transit officials codified their own policy, which remains quite vague, after the public backlash to their shutdown. It calls for “strong evidence” of dangerous and unlawful activity, a belief that an interruption will “substantially reduce the likelihood of such an activity” and that the interruptions are “narrowly tailored.”
No. That agrees to the premise that government should have that power and then tries to define it “narrowly”. I don’t agree with the premise of government’s right to do this. If they want to talk about an exceptional power in time of a declared National Emergency, I’m willing to listen. But we all know how wide “narrowly” becomes when law enforcement is given an ability to use such a power. They’ll use it for their convenience, screw your rights.
It would seem that would be a fairly potent means of campaigning and keeping the issues most important to the forefront. It might take care of this.
Look, one of the reasons we’re going through this “I killed bin Laden” self-congratulatory orgy right now is a day spend doing the bin Laden back pat is a day not spent on having to discuss this awful economy.
It wouldn’t be hard to compile a list of problems a new president would “inherit” from Obama. That was (and still is) an Obama strategy – blame Bush. It may be time for Romney to begin to blame Obama:
-For 8.2% unemployment
-For doubling the debt
-For anemic GDP growth
-For large increases in major regulations
-For green energy boondoggles based in crony capitalism and a nonexistent energy policy
-For increasing dependency on government
-For the first credit downgrade in US history
And, that’s just a short list.
I like the “inherit” scheme. It’s a good way to frame the debate and put the Obama campaign on the defensive. If and when the Romney campaign and certain elements of the GOP can stop shooting themselves in the foot over gay spokespersons that is.
Because, as you know, the laws of supply and demand can’t be repealed, no matter how much some want that to be true.
Today, the EPA will act to make electricity more expensive.
The Environmental Protection Agency will issue the first limits on greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants as early as Tuesday, according to several people briefed on the proposal. The move could end the construction of conventional coal-fired facilities in the United States.
The proposed rule — years in the making and approved by the White House after months of review — will require any new power plant to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt of electricity produced. The average U.S. natural gas plant, which emits 800 to 850 pounds of CO2 per megawatt, meets that standard; coal plants emit an average of 1,768 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt.
If you can’t get Congress to pass a “cap and tax” law, then simply go it alone and direct executive agencies to implement regulation which will cap CO2 by making it too expensive to operate if the plant produces CO2 above the arbitrary limit you set.
“After Congress refused to pass carbon caps, the administration insisted there were other ways to skin the cat, and this is another way — by setting a standard deliberately calculated to drive affordable coal out of the electricity market,” Popovich said.
And that’s precisely what Obama’s done here.
Well it gives lie to the “all-of-the-above energy plan” that Obama has been pushing in stump speeches around the country:
Industry officials and environmentalists said in interviews that the rule, which comes on the heels of tough new requirements that the Obama administration imposed on mercury emissions and cross-state pollution from utilities within the past year, dooms any proposal to build a coal-fired plant that does not have costly carbon controls.
“This standard effectively bans new coal plants,” said Joseph Stanko, who heads government relations at the law firm Hunton and Williams and represents several utility companies. “So I don’t see how that is an ‘all of the above’ energy policy.”
Nor do I.
And it will have a significant effect:
The proposal does not cover existing plants, although utility companies have announced that they plan to shut down more than 300 boilers, representing more than 42 gigawatts of electricity generation — nearly 13 percent of the nation’s coal-fired electricity — rather than upgrade them with pollution-control technology.
Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said the new rule “captures the end of an era” during which coal provided most of the nation’s electricity. It currently generates about 40 percent of U.S. electricity.
So the war on coal continues apace despite claims of an inclusive energy policy.
This is a preview of a 2nd Obama term. As mentioned yesterday, public opinion will be of no consequence in January 2013 if he’s re-elected. Hence, there’ll be no need to concern himself with it again. 4 years of unilateral action by agencies such as the EPA can certainly be expected:
The EPA rule, called the New Source Performance Standard, will be subject to public comment for at least a month before being finalized, but its backers said they were confident that the White House will usher it into law before Obama’s term ends.
“The Obama administration is committed to moving forward with this,” said Nathan Willcox, federal global warming program director for the advocacy group Environment America. “They’re committed to doing it this, and we’re committed to helping them do it.”
Here we go again:
As rising gas prices become a key issue on the campaign trail, the president argued that using less oil is an important part of the solution.
“We’ve got to develop every source of American energy; not just oil and gas, but wind power and solar power, nuclear power, biofuels. We need to invest in the technology that will help us use less oil in our cars and our trucks, in our buildings, in our factories. That’s the only solution to the challenge, because as we start using less, that lowers the demand, prices come down,” the president told workers at the Daimler Trucks manufacturing plant in Mount Holly, N.C.
Yet in the same speech he calls oil “the fuel of the past”.
Of course not. It is a fuel he’s decided he no longer wants to pursue for political reasons based in very shaky science. But fuel of the past? Fossil fuel is more of a part of our lives now than it has ever been and while alternate fuels are desirable, they’re not even close to being ready for prime time despite massive investment for decades. But oil a fuel of the past?
This is typical Obama – try to have it both ways. Talk about developing “every source of American energy” to include oil and gas and then claim that oil is a ‘fuel of the past’. That’s a not so subtle reminder that he really doesn’t support fossil fuel production (and hasn’t – see his claims about the “oil industry subsidy”), despite the continuous attempt to take credit for increased oil production during his time in office when his administration has had no hand in it).
The president continued to defend his “all-of-the-above” strategy against Republican attacks on his energy policy. “If somebody tells you we’re not producing enough oil, they just don’t know the facts,” he said.
Really? Well, we’re not, and that’s a fact. We could be producing much, much more if the Obama administration would get out of the way. The little known truth about the so-called “fact” Obama throws around about oil production being at its 8 year high, is he had nothing to do with that. And furthermore, next year, we’ll see a significant decline in production from the lands the federal government controls (it will conveniently happen after the election, of course). Note the final paragraph below. It points to another reason why Obama’s claim is disingenuous:
The federal government controls about a third of the nation’s oil production, through federal onshore leases (mostly in the West, where it owns half the land) and leases to drill in outer continental shelf (OCS) starting 10 miles off the coast. The rest of America’s oil production is on state-owned land (including coastal areas) and on private lands subject to state regulation.
As a direct result of the president’s severe constriction of oil production under federal leases, domestic U.S. oil production will be nearly one million barrels per day lower this year than it would have been otherwise.
Meanwhile, production from newly available shale oil and oil sands on private and state-owned land has been booming—more than enough to make up for the steep decline in production under federal leases. That boom, combined with slackened demand since the start of the recession, has reduced America’s dependence on foreign oil to about half its daily consumption of 20 million barrels per day, down from 60 percent in 2005.
In fact, the truth is much different than the Obama claim in which he attempts to take credit for today’s oil production:
Even in the few areas of the OCS that remain open, the administration is seeking to strangle production. As a result of the various deep-water drilling moratoriums, a third of the Gulf’s deep-water drilling rigs have left for other shores, dissuaded by the regulatory uncertainty. As a result of the shallow-water “permitorium” even shallow-water drilling has slowed to a crawl. According to the Department of Energy, oil production from the Gulf of Mexico will drop by 700,000 barrels per day by the end of 2012, which further decreases in ensuing years. And as for America’s working families, the combination of moratoriums and “permitorium” are estimated to have cost 60,000 thousand jobs in 2010 alone.
On federal lands the story has been the same. Just as technological breakthroughs have paved the way for tapping into the vast oil reserves of the Rocky Mountain states, the administration cut the number of new leases by 50 percent in 2010 alone.
Oil is not a “fuel of the past”. Obama’s agenda actually demands we abandon it. And he would in a New York minute if there wouldn’t be electoral consequences. His administration’s track record concerning oil and gas exploitation as well as new regulatory regime the EPA is implementing and actions of Secretaries Chu and Salazar give lie to the claims made.
Oil and gas are, in fact, the critical fuels of the future. It is and will remain the lifeblood of our economy for decades. An administration that doesn’t realize that and works to curtail it deserves to be shown the door at the earliest possible opportunity. If you think gas prices are high now, remember that without the increase in oil production on state and private land, it would be higher than it is now.
Unicorns and moon-ponies (or pond scum) won’t fuel the economy. Oil will. And an “all of the above” strategy should obviously include massive increases in oil production on federal lands. Don’t let this guy get away with his false claims and destructive energy policy. Help show him the door, November.
If it’s not painfully obvious by now, the Obama campaign is banking on women voters being the key to re-election. Running on “Hope and Change” isn’t going to work this time around, and the specter of George Bush will only get about as many miles as a Chevy Volt on a full charge. The usually reliable grievance groups, identity cohorts and college students are not as enthused this time around, and the Obama campaign is apparently worried about that $1,000,000,000 in cash won’t be enough to get it past the finish line. So, naturally, some voting bloc must be pandered to and manipulated in order to secure a second term.
Enter the Contraception Wars (a major battle of the General War on Women). Relying on the various Democratic identity politics to get your voter base out is tedious, time consuming, and requires a lot more vote-buying to pay off the different interest groups. Seeing as how they may not be a reliable base anyway, then why not go for the largest voting bloc out there: women!
In recent elections, voter turnout rates for women have equaled or exceeded voter turnout rates for men. Women, who constitute more than half the population, have cast between four and seven million more votes than men in recent elections. In every presidential election since 1980, the proportion [of] female adults who voted has exceeded the proportion of made adults who voted.
The one thing that all women have in common is that they alone have the necessary biological equipment for having babies. If they were made to feel that their equipment was under attack (“Republicans are coming to steal your ladyparts!“), and that only Obamamagne can defend their honor, then perhaps they will race to the polls in support of their hero. Of course, there will have to be some “free” stuff thrown in to sweeten the pot and make women feel as if they are losing something unless Obama is re-elected. Accordingly, what follows is the multi-step process for ensuring the women vote goes solidly for Obama in November:
1. Raise awareness: Subtly introduce the subject of contraception from out of left field at a Republican debate. This will get the tongues wagging and foreshadow who the villains are.
2. Free Stuff: Using your arrogated powers, mandate that all employers who provide insurance must include contraception (including abortifacients and sterilization) in their plans, regardless of conscientious objection, the First Amendment or, y’know, any of that freedom nonsense. By giving women “free” contraception, etc., you necessarily pit them against those who would deny them their grant. Executing this step is vitally important to framing the villains and carrying out Step 3.
3. Create the wedge issue: Because certain quarters will predictably howl at the intrusion upon their liberties, this Step is almost self-executing. Once the villainous voices are set to wailing, pretend to show concern for their plaints and then offer an “accommodation” that changes nothing but highlights your Solomonic wisdom (aided, of course, by a compliant media). The results of this Step are two-fold — (a) it politicizes the issue so that people will have to choose sides, and (b) it creates the illusion that you are fair and just, while your opponents are rigid and uncaring.
4. Flip the issue: Up to this point, the issue has been “I want to give you free stuff, but the greedy bastards don’t want to pay for it.” That may raise legitimate concerns among a sizable portion of the voting bloc you are courting. So, instead, change the narrative to “I want to protect your ability to get the free stuff, but they don’t want you to have it at all!” In flipping the issue from “don’t want to pay for” to “want to ban” you have neatly cleaved your intended voting bloc from your political enemies. Under this telling of the story, the villains are out to get women and only you will stand up to protect them.
5. Generate sound bytes: This Step is a bit tricky and must be followed carefully. The basis for any campaign is a good PR strategy. There will be plenty of older sound bytes out there already, but those will be generally stale and unhelpful. What you need to properly execute this Step is a current controversy. In order to do that you will need a public forum (such as Congressional hearing) in which to force the issue. Start by finding someone to represent your voting bloc and push her presence at the forum in a way that is sure to keep her from actually appearing. (As an added bonus, falsely claim that no representative of the voting bloc was allowed to appear.) Be sure that this speaker will be a sympathetic victim such as a lowly “college student” (regardless of whether she is or not). Now, and this part is very important, have your willing victim draw enemy fire by testifying about activities that perfectly fit the definition of “slut”, all but openly daring your opponents to use the word. Don’t worry about someone taking the bait — someone always rises to occasion.
6. Profit: Now that you have created a wedge issue, identified victim and villain, and staked out your claim to your voter bloc, all you have to do is pound the wedge home. Using your newly generated sound byte(s), you are firmly on the path to political nirvana. Your friends and allies will eagerly disseminate, distort and decry the outrageous outrageousness of your political opponents, firmly ensconcing your coveted voter bloc on your side. It will be the talk of the town for quite some time, ready to be refreshed at the right moments. In addition, it will provide a welcome distraction to your pathetic record, a flailing economy, and impending dangers that show you unequal to the task.
Or maybe, just maybe, women aren’t as manipulable as you believe, and they actually care about their families, their jobs, their home budgets, and their liberties. If that’s the case, then you might just be screwed no matter what you do.
Right now there’s a shortage of orange juice in the US because of a number of diseases, especially one called “greening” that has been destroying the crop.
However, there’s an alternative – import Brazilian orange juice.
But we can’t:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, after several weeks of deliberation, has blocked imports of frozen, concentrated orange juice from Brazil, probably for the next 18 months or so, even though the agency says the juice is perfectly safe.
So if it is admittedly safe and we need the juice to help meet demand (and keep the price down) why can’t we import this juice? Why can’t we do what is necessary with something the FDA says is safe?
The FDA’s explanation is that its hands are legally tied. Its tests show that practically all concentrated juice from Brazil currently contains traces of the fungicide carbendazim, first detected in December by Coca-Cola, maker of Minute Maid juices. The amounts are small — so small that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says no consumers should be concerned.
The problem is, carbendazim has not been used on oranges in the U.S. in recent years, and the legal permission to use it on that crop has lapsed. As a result, there’s not a legal "tolerance" for residues of this pesticide in orange products.
So, according to the FDA, any speck of this fungicide, if found in orange juice, is an illegal adulterant and won’t be allowed, even though residues of the same fungicide are allowed in many other foods, including apple and grape juice.
There is no “legal permission” to use the fungicide on the crop because such “permission” has lapsed and thus there is no “legal tolerance” for any residue no matter how benign. Consequently, because of that lapse the regulatory regime says “no go” on the import of something perfectly safe and in demand.
The result of the unwarranted ban (this orange juice is welcome in Europe, by the way):
In 2010, about 11 percent of all the orange juice consumed in America came from Brazil, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That share may seem modest, but economist Thomas Prusa of Rutgers tells The Salt that cutting it out could boost wholesale prices of concentrated orange juice by 20 to 45 percent.
So gas prices aren’t the only thing going up soon. And in the case of orange juice, the price increase can be tied directly to government regulation.
As orange juice goes up by 20 to 45%, who is it that will be hurt the most? That’s right – the poorest among us who now either have to find a substitute or perhaps forgo the juice altogether.
One of the claims President Obama made in his State of the Union address was that his administration was engaged in cutting the red tape and doing away with regulations that stood in the way of prosperity.
There is no question that some regulations are outdated, unnecessary, or too costly. In fact, I’ve approved fewer regulations in the first three years of my presidency than my Republican predecessor did in his. I’ve ordered every federal agency to eliminate rules that don’t make sense. We’ve already announced over 500 reforms, and just a fraction of them will save business and citizens more than $10 billion over the next five years.
Of course, like many of his claims, the devil is in the details and upon closer scrutiny, the claim has no real foundation in fact.
His first claim is a carefully constructed lie as Free Enterprise points out:
The White House admits that its rules have so far cost $25 billion, which is much more than at the same point during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.
The claim is also couched in non-specifics for a reason. The “500 reforms” are mostly regulations with little or no monetary impact on those who have to satisfy them. However, the administration has added more rules that cross the magic 100 million dollar impact line than any other administration. And, of course, those require, by law, that the monetary impact be assessed. Here’s an example of one (PDF, pg 69):
Enforcement Fairness Act (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.). This interim final rule:
a. Will have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more. This rule will affect every new well on the OCS, and every operator, both large and small must meet the same criteria for well construction regardless of company size. This rulemaking may have a significant economic effect on a substantial number of small entities and the impact on small businesses will be analyzed more thoroughly in an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis. While large companies will bear the majority of these costs, small companies as both leaseholders and contractors supporting OCS drilling operations will be affected.
Considering the new requirements for redundant barriers and new tests, we estimate that this rulemaking will add an average of about $1.42 million to each new deepwater well drilled and completed with a MODU, $170 thousand for each new deepwater well drilled with a platform rig, and $90 thousand for each new shallow water well. While not an insignificant amount, we note this extra recurring cost is less than 2 percent of the cost of drilling a well in deepwater and around 1 percent for most shallow water wells.
b. Will not cause a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual industries, Federal, State, or local government agencies, or geographic regions. The impact on domestic deepwater hydrocarbon production as a result of these regulations is expected to be negative, but the size of the impact is not expected to materially impact the world oil markets. The deepwater GOM is an oil province and the domestic crude oil prices are set by the world oil markets. Currently there is sufficient spare capacity in OPEC to offset a decrease in GOM deepwater production that could occur as a result of this rule.
Therefore, the increase in the price of hydrocarbon products to consumers from the increased cost to drill and operate on the OCS is expected to be minimal. However, more of the oil for domestic consumption may be purchased from overseas markets because the cost of OCS oil and gas production will rise relative to other sources of supply. This shift would contribute negatively to our balance of trade.
These rules were proposed in the wake of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). They clearly identify the effect of the rules. Ironically they include increased cost to consumers, more dependence on foreign oil, and a negative increase in the balance of trade – all problems the administration and most economists identify is problems to be solved if the economy is to move forward.
Now, some may argue that these rules were necessary. I’d argue that perhaps some new regulation was necessary, but it should have been a regulation which, to the best of its ability, mitigated the effects listed to the minimum, or eliminated them altogether. Instead, the regulators airily note the effects and then blow them off. In reality, regulators really don’t care if it costs consumers more, deepens our dependence on foreign oil or ups the balance of trade.
In the State of the Union address, Obama tried to grab the middle and pretend he is a friend to small business:
You see, an economy built to last is one where we encourage the talent and ingenuity of every person in this country. That means women should earn equal pay for equal work. (Applause.) It means we should support everyone who’s willing to work, and every risk-taker and entrepreneur who aspires to become the next Steve Jobs.
After all, innovation is what America has always been about. Most new jobs are created in start-ups and small businesses. So let’s pass an agenda that helps them succeed. Tear down regulations that prevent aspiring entrepreneurs from getting the financing to grow. (Applause.) Expand tax relief to small businesses that are raising wages and creating good jobs. Both parties agree on these ideas. So put them in a bill, and get it on my desk this year. (Applause.)
But again facts undermine the claim. As the Small Business Association reports, regulations disproportionately effect small businesses:
In the face of yet higher costs of federal regulations, the research shows that small businesses continue to bear a disproportionate share of the federal regulatory burden. The findings are consistent with those in Hopkins (1995), Crain and Hopkins (2001), and Crain (2005).
The research finds that the total costs of federal regulations have further increased from the level established in the 2005 study, as have the costs per employee. More specifically, the total cost of federal regulations has increased to $1.75 trillion, while the updated cost per employee for firms with fewer than 20 employees is now $10,585 (a 36 percent difference between the costs incurred by small firms when compared with their larger counterparts).
Say one thing while doing the opposite. Vintage Obama. Tomorrow’s Steve Jobs would have a very expensive uphill climb in today’s regulatory climate. The net effect? $1.75 trillion dollars of cost to small businesses, the place where “most jobs are created” per Obama.
The SBA also reports:
Environmental regulations appear to be the main cost drivers in determining the severity of the disproportionate impact on small firms. Compliance with environmental regulations costs 364 percent more in small firms than in large firms. The cost of tax compliance is 206 percent higher in small firms than the cost in large firms.
Those regulations are primarily driven by OSHA and EPA. And there’s no secret about the expansion of both regulators and regulation being pushed by Obama’s EPA focused on the environment.
The “good” news, however, this is one “shovel ready” project that seems to be creating jobs:
Large, small, global and regional — law firms are opening Washington offices at a rate not seen since before the recession, as they position themselves for work centered around the capital’s regulatory machinery.
Yes, I was being very facetious, however, when sharks smell blood in the water, they tend to gather in large numbers in anticipation of a feeding frenzy. Despite Obama’s claims to the contrary, there’s a reason this is happening, and it isn’t because the administration is lessening or cutting regulations, it is because it is imposing more and needs additional legal enforcement help (there’s also the side that will concentrate on defense).
Don’t forget, the $1.75 trillion dollar cost above applies to only small business. That means that the total cost of regulation is much higher than that. Also don’t forget, when Obama makes his claim about not passing as many regulations as previous administrations, that’s meaningless without an dollar effect numbers. As noted, in regulatory cost to the economy, he’s passed many more costly regulations at this point in his presidency than did the previous administration.
The bottom line, of course, is that A) you can’t believe a thing the man says and B) contrary to his claims, he’s imposed more cost on the economy via regulation, not less.
Finally, if you think it is bad now, wait until ObamaCare kicks in. One of the reasons law firms are beefing up their Washington DC presence is in anticipation of that law going into effect. If you think it’s a regulatory nightmare now, just wait. It’s going to get worse.
Sean Hackbarth, commenting on the increase in lawyers:
Resources spent on paperwork and re-jiggering business plans is less money going to business investment and job creation, but at least we know someone is benefiting from the regulatory pile-on.
Shovel-ready – and not in the good sense.