American Elephants

The EPA May Have Gone Too Far This Time! by The Elephant's Child

The out-of-control EPA may have gone a step too far. Unphased by slap-downs from the Supreme Court, the rogue agency continues their grab for power under the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. Everybody wants clean air and clean water, the problems arise when it comes to defining “clean.”

The EPA wants all fine particles removed from the air — which is impossible. They have tried to regulate farm dust, and made outrageous claims their program is expected to save a specific large number of American children from contracting asthma. Unfortunately, the medical profession does not know the cause of asthma — but the EPA claims to.

When Congress passed laws allowing the EPA to protect clean air and clean water, they were unfortunately vague because they didn’t know what scientifically defined”clean” air. When it came to water, they gave the EPA some jurisdiction over the “navigable waters” of the country, which the EPA has assumed means any moving or still water anywhere.

Their latest gambit is to use the Clean Water Act (CWA) to control land alongside ditches, gullies, and temporary water sources caused by rain or snowmelt by claiming that they are part of navigable waterways. A spring leads to a trickle that enlarges to a creek that becomes a stream that  flows into a river and eventually you do get to a navigable waterway, except they are trying to trace every raindrop back to its source. Which is absurd. But such action would make it harder for private property owners to build in their own backyards, grow crops, raise livestock and conduct activities on their own land.

“Never in the history of the CWA has federal regulation defined ditches and other upland features as ‘waters of the United States,’” said Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), the ranking committee member, and Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), chairman of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment.

“This is without a doubt an expansion of federal jurisdiction,” the lawmakers said in a May 31 letter to House colleagues.

This unusual alliance of powerful House Republicans and Democrats to jointly sponsor legislation to overturn the new guidelines signals a willingness on Capitol Hill to rein in the rogue agency.

The Obama administration is doing everything in its power to increase costs and regulatory burdens for American businesses, farmers and individual property owners,” Mica said in a statement to Human Events. “This federal jurisdiction grab has been opposed by Congress for years, and now the administration and its agencies are ignoring law and rulemaking procedures in order to tighten their regulatory grip over every water body in the country.”

“But this administration needs to realize it is not above the law,” Mica said.

The measure in the House has 64 cosponsors and was passed in committee last week. A companion speech is being studied in the Senate and is cosponsored by 26 Republicans. Key Supreme Court decisions against the federal government in cases involving the Clean Water Act have prompted a new round of guidelines by the agencies involved to define what they want to consider waterways.

“President Obama’s EPA continues to act as if it is above the law. It is using this overreaching guidance to pre-empt state and local governments, farmers and ranchers, small business owners and homeowners from making local land and water use decisions,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said in announcing their measure in March. “Our bill will stop this unprecedented Washington power grab and restore Americans’ property rights.”

“It’s time to get EPA lawyers out of Americans’ backyards,” Barrasso said.

Austerity or Stimulus? A Conversation. by The Elephant's Child

Keith Hennessey, who always explains matters economic in easy-to-understand terms, has written an imaginary conversation between Righty and Lefty explaining, over a cup of coffee, their diagnosis of the problems of the economy and what they think should be done about it.

It is an enlightening read, fun too, and helps to clarify where we are and why. You may want to read it more than once and share it as well.  Worth your time!

A Tipping Point — Twenty Five Years Ago. by The Elephant's Child

It was twenty-five years ago today in front of the Brandenburg Gate. It was by definition a tipping point. One of those rare moments when everything changes. I’ve been thinking a lot about tipping points lately, so you will hear more about that.

Here is Peter Robinson, who wrote the speech and came up with the famous line. He includes a facsimile of the speech with President Reagan’s markings.


The Destruction of American Wealth, 2007 —2010 by The Elephant's Child

The Federal Reserve has just issued its survey of American family finances from January 2007 to January 2010. The recent recession has wiped out nearly 20 years of Americans savings. Both income and wealth were hit hard during the period covered by the study. Median real income fell by 7.7%, with the decline affecting all income groups except “retirees and other nonworking families.”

Family wealth —median net worth — declined by 40%, erasing 18 years of savings and investment for the average family. A good percentage of that, but not all, was related to home prices. For middle class Americans,  home value represents a big chunk, if not all of their real savings. The drop puts Americans back about where they were in 1992.The value of assets such as their homes, automobiles and stocks minus any debt suffered the biggest drop.

Americans have tried to rebalance the family budget, fewer are carrying credit card balances and those who do have less debt. The median balance has dropped 16% and  quarter of families have no debt, an increase. There are vast differences in home prices in different parts of the country. There is a lot to see if you go over the data, but published data always lag events. The big story, of course is the pathetically sluggish recovery from the recession. Things may have gotten a little better since 2010, but not much.

The destruction of private wealth and recycling the cash into the federal system is a disastrous business. The hard left and their Big Government Project not only have a lot to answer for, but they seem not to understand what they have done and the perilous position of the American people. The study is available at the link, and there is lots of data to peruse.

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