American Elephants


The Obama Administration’s Excessive Regulation by The Elephant's Child

I often refer to Liberals as the “perpetually discontented,” because they don’t like things the way they are, they want them better, or different, or fixed, and consider themselves just the ones to fix things.

I think they have never thought much about human nature, and what a flawed species we are. Not just in the Biblical original sin way, but we are selfish, greedy, envious, stupid, lazy, inconsiderate, lascivious, treacherous, to mention just a few characteristics.

A good knowledge of history offers guidelines — more for what not to do, but it’s the only real guidelines we have. You can tell something about the extent to which liberals have considered human nature by their recurring idea that world peace would be just around the corner if we all just thought nice thoughts.

Liberals also assume that government is full of wise platonic guardians who instinctively know what is best for the rest of us. That is why they are so eager to regulate. President Obama, following that instinct, has overseen a dramatic expansion of the regulatory state that will far outlast his time in the White House.

The executive branch has extended its reach, further authorizing the bureaucrats who churn out regulations that touch every aspect of American life and business. Some deny that rule-making has accelerated under Obama, but few would dispute that Washington is reaching deeper into the workings of society.  Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, remarked that “It would be difficult for anyone to pretend that this isn’t a high-water mark in terms of regulation.”

Federal rules are accumulating far faster than outdated ones are removed. Data collected by researchers at George Mason  University’s Mercatus Center shows that the Code of Federal Regulations, where all rules and regulations are detailed, has grown from 71,224 pages in 1975 to 174,545 pages last year.

The EPA has sought to regulate the amount of dust in the air that a farm may allow. That will sound reasonable to apartment dwellers in the city, and a joke to anyone familiar with farming.

A “major rule” is one that has an annual economic impact exceeding $100 million. More “major rules” were enacted in 2010 than in any year dating back to 1997. Over Obama’s first three years in office the Code of Federal Regulations has increased by 7.4 percent. In contrast the regulatory code grew by only 4.4 percent during Bush’s first term.

What matters is not the “intent” of the regulation, but what it actually does in practice. Broad ideas about “protecting the public” may prove to do nothing to protect and a lot to ruin businesses, or disrupt lives. The EPA has famously attempted to extend the authority it has been granted under the Clean Air Act to cover things such as the aforementioned farm dust, and it’s authority over navigable waters to include every trickle of water that eventually runs into a navigable water. As The Hill said in their article:

Supporters of aggressive federal rule-making have high hopes that Obama will act boldly during the remainder of his term.

“I think you have cases where Congress has not been able to address threats to the public,” said Katie Greenhaw, a regulatory policy analyst at the Center for Effective Government. “So if there is existing authority, agencies have obligations to use that authority to protect the public.”

There you have the nub of the problem: “supporters of aggressive federal rule-making” suggests that the need for a rule is not important, it’s about control.  Agencies have “obligations to protect the public.” um, whether or not the public needs protecting? Again, it isn’t about needing a rule, it’s about control and they want to control your life, because they know better — because they are liberals.



Fatally Flawed, Economically Illiterate, Illogical Incentives: ObamaCare by The Elephant's Child

Sowell

You really don’t have to know much about economics to understand the fatal flaws of ObamaCare. First of all, the heavy hand of government is intruding on each sector of medical care. The authorities seem to believe that all of these institutions of medicine have been behaving badly, and need instruction from bureaucrats in the federal administration.

Bureaucracies are administration of government chiefly through bureaus staffed with nonelective officials and workers. Authority is diffused among numerous offices and adheres to inflexible rules of operation, and the need to follow complex procedures impedes effective action.

This is the bureaucracy that has been added on top of our health care system to administer it. Each of these circles, squares, etc. represents an agency or bureau full of cubicles full of hundreds and thousands of people whose salaries, benefits, offices, buildings must be paid for, in addition to what health care cost before the Democrats had this bright idea.  And they insist that their program will rein in the runaway cost that made health care so expensive before the Liberals got hold of it. (Click to enlarge, and pull out the sides until you can read it.)

obamacarechart_1356x1049

Obviously, paying for all this is going to be a problem. ObamaCare is not a health care program, it is an insurance program. The biggest reason we had to have this was that there were supposed to be 30,000 people who had no health insurance, and we had to get everyone insured. The CBO says that when ObamaCare fully takes effect, there will still be at least 30,000 people who do not have health insurance.

So how do they pay for all this? They decided to tax the makers of medical equipment. The unintended consequence is that many small businesses who make something developed by a doctor to solve a medical problem have gone out of business. The cost of medical equipment from hospital beds to replacement joints will go up significantly.

To keep the cost of ObamaCare insurance for average citizens down, they must enroll young healthy adults who will pay for insurance that they seldom use. A big drive is on to encourage young healthy adults to sign up. The unintended consequence is that it’s a bad deal for young healthy adults, and the cost of ‘encouraging them’ to sign up is heavy.

Government programs always exceed their preliminary estimate, often doubling and tripling. The only known government program that did not vastly exceed estimated cost, was George W. Bush’s Medicare drug program. An incentive was added to encourage Medicare patients to watch the cost of their medications and where appropriate use generics. It worked. Liberals thought it was mean and eliminated the incentive, so costs for part D will climb dramatically.

The worst thing about ObamaCare is that it changes the incentives for the medical establishment. The bureaucracy will demand lower costs, and make regulations to that end. Brand new drugs, or brand new equipment are apt to be expensive because of the initial cost of bringing something new to market, and the bureaucracy will refuse to pay for them. The incentives for the medical establishment shift from giving the best possible care to trying to get adequately paid for their services. Time spent with a patient will be cut short with the need to see more patients in less time. Hospitals will have to find ways to cut costs, rather than improving patient care.

The biggest unintended consequence is that physicians, who went into medicine to heal patients and care for them, had no intention of doing medicine under such a regime. Doctors are retiring early, Switching to a different kind of practice that does not include health insurance. Going to Africa to practice where they are really needed and can do good. Last election there were around 45 doctors running for office. These are bright capable people who can choose to do something else. Expect your neighborhood pharmacist to take on more duties than just giving flu shots and vaccinations.



Perpetuum Jazzile Performs a Tribute to ABBA by The Elephant's Child

Time to revisit Perpetuum Jazzile, the Slovenian a capella jazz choir. Here they pay tribute to the Swedish vocal group ABBA with a medley of ABBA’s songs. We have long admired this group.




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