American Elephants


Farm Kids v. Labor Department. Kids Won. by The Elephant's Child

An article appeared in the Daily Caller about the Obama administration proposal to prevent farm children from doing anything that might be dangerous, like doing farm chores. That had been revised down to not doing chores anywhere but on their parent’s property. City newspapers didn’t notice, but the proposal, in all its variations, struck a sour note in farm country. The general response could be described as — “Are they nuts?”

The best thing for the children of America would be to spend some time on American farms and doing farm chores. When I was growing up rural, we often got a high school age kid from a disgruntled city parent, with the request to place him on a ranch to work for the summer, so he could learn some life lessons.

Child labor laws were passed in the U.S. starting in 1916, but were not firmly established until the Great Depression. The Fair Labor Standards Act placed limits on many forms of child labor. According to Wikipedia, Human Rights Watch in a 2009 petition claimed:

Hundreds of thousands of children are employed as farmworkers in the United States, often working 10 or more hours a day. They are often exposed to dangerous pesticides, experience high rates of injury, and suffer fatalities at five times the rate of other working youth. Their long hours contribute to alarming drop-out rates. Government statistics show that barely half ever finish high school. According to the National Safety Council, agriculture is the second most dangerous occupation in the United States. However, current US child labor laws allow child farmworkers to work longer hours, at younger ages, and under more hazardous conditions than other working youths. While children in other sectors must be 12 to be employed and cannot work more than 3 hours on a school day, in agriculture, children can work at age 12 for unlimited hours before and after school.”

This may be true for migrant farm workers, but applied to all rural children on all American farms — it is ridiculous. It may have helped some children who were forced to work, but was tough on thousands of children who no longer got to pick berries or apples.

But the Daily Caller piece was this morning. This afternoon, the Labor Department withdrew their “proposed rule dealing with children who work in agricultural vocations. The withdrawal statement was interesting as well. AllahPundit at Hot Air contributed an alternate headline:

Obama administration decides against picking pointless, hugely politically perilous fight in election year.

The Obama administration is firmly committed to promoting family farmers and respecting the rural way of life, especially the role that parents and other family members play in passing those traditions down through the generations. The Obama administration is also deeply committed to listening and responding to what Americans across the country have to say about proposed rules and regulations.

As a result, the Department of Labor is announcing today the withdrawal of the proposed rule dealing with children under the age of 16 who work in agricultural vocations.

The decision to withdraw this rule,  including provisions to define the ‘parental exemption,’ was made in response to thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect of the proposed rules on small family-owned farms. To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration.

Instead, the Departments of Labor and Agriculture will work with rural stakeholders such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union, the Future Farmers of America, and 4-H  to develop an educational program to reduce accidents to young workers and promote safer agricultural working practices.

The press release apparently said: “To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration.” (translation,Hot Air added: please forget this).



The Environmentalist War on Rural America by The Elephant's Child

Oh, Oh! EPA Official Explains His Totalarian Philosophy of Enforcement. Crucify Them! by The Elephant's Child

Every once in a while. a government official blurts out the truth about departmental activities in a way that gets picked up by the media, and it goes viral. Ans so it was when EPA Regional Administrator Al Armendariz confirmed the widespread suspicion that the EPA is at war with the oil and gas industries.

Oil and gas is an enforcement priority. It’s one of seven, so we are going to spend a fair amount of time looking at oil and gas production.

The top-ranking EPA official goes on to explain his philosophy of policy enforcement:

I was in a meeting once and I gave an analogy to my staff…the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean.  They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they would crucify them. And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.

Ans so you make examples of people who are in this case not compliant with the law. Find people who are not compliant with the law, and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them, and there is a deterrent effect there.

And companies that are smart see that they don’t want to play that game and they decide at that point that it’s time to clean up.

And, that won’t happen unless you have somebody out there making examples of people. So you go out, you look at an industry, you find people violating the law, you go aggressively after them. And we do have some pretty effective enforcement tools. Compliance can get very high, very, very quickly.

That’s what these companies respond to is both their public image but also financial pressure. So you put some financial pressure on a company, you get other people in that industry to clean up very quickly.

“So, that’s our general philosophy,” he adds.

Exactly. And it isn’t just the Romans, the SS used to do that too. It’s how totalitarians act. And it’s why we’ve been calling the EPA an out-of-control agency that needs to be abolished. We have the examples of the Sacketts who were going to build their dream home with a view of the lake— and the EPA descended on them calling their suburban lot a “wetland” and fining them $75,000 a day until they had returned their graded lot to its natural state, and $37.500 a day for violating the law, and another $37,500 for something or other. The Supreme Court put an end to that.

And then there is Gibson Guitars who were shut down because the wood they imported with the full approval of Madagascar for frets didn’t comply with the American interpretation of Madagascar law. And the threat endangered every guitarist with a Gibson guitar.

EPA Administrator Armendariz took on Texas’ Range Resources with an emergency order issued by EPA Region 6 which it justified by making unfounded claims that because of fracking “houses could explode.” Interviews with the EPA warned  repeatedly of the “danger of fires and explosions.” That case was another legal embarrassment for the EPA.

In attempting to shut down coal-fired power plants, the EPA has claimed that their efforts to cut sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions would yield $290 billion in health and welfare benefits in 2014, and that it would prevent up to 36,000 premature deaths, 26,000 hospital and emergency-room visits and 240,000 cased of aggravated asthma. This is absolute hooey. Physicians don’t know the cause of asthma, and giving a number of “premature” deaths to be prevented is absurd.

This is the way the EPA operates, with lies and made up statistics and enormous fines. They intend to scare their victims into instant compliance with the EPA grab for power. They need to be stopped.  Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) has launched an investigation into the Obama-EPA tactics towards domestic energy production in the light of their recent efforts to frighten the public about safe hydraulic fracturing.

 




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