American Elephants

Regulators’ Hubris Kills Free Market Innovation. Dumb Idea. by The Elephant's Child

Somewhere along the way, Congress got lazy and decided it would be better if they palmed off the annoying business of writing laws and regulations on the myriad federal agencies, and then they wouldn’t get so much disagreement from ordinary citizens, and they could do more important things like make speeches and fund raise.

Delegating such tasks to unelected bureaucrats has meant not only the vast expansion of am alphabet soup of agencies, but laws that sound as if they are written by faceless, unelected bureaucrats. Nobody understands the laws, every t may be crossed and i dotted, and every possible dereliction from the law may have its penalty and every regulation may attempt to control ever more of the actions of the public., but it’s not working and it should be stopped.

Agencies are working at cross purposes, regulations are based on inadequate understanding of economics, and caught between the proverbial rock and hard place, businesses close or decline to open, jobs are lost or are never created but the regulatory machine churns on unabated. The regulators remain completely unconcerned about their vast hubris, for they are convinced that they know better than the rest of us what is good for us.

Consider the 20,000 pages of the ObamaCare act which has not managed to be intelligible to anyone after 3½ years. Contrast that with the clean simple law of the Homestead Act of 1862: simple, clear language, 21,296 words that transformed the United States and populated the country. We could do with a lot more clear language and a lot less regulation.

A small company called 23andMe offers a genetic-testing kit. It consists of a tube into which the customer spits and returns to the company. The actual test is conducted at a lab that is regulated by another agency. The FDA has chosen to go after 23andMe aggressively for marketing a “medical device” even though the only “device” is a plastic tube, and the client cannot cannot undertake further action on the test result without  consulting a health care provider. This kind of device is part of the new economy, favoring the free flow of information. It is completely at odds with the old paternalistic model, in which regulators and the medical establishment control what patients may learn. Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute said there are sound legal reasons for the FDA to have refrained from acting in this case. But you can’t fight city hall, or a federal regulator. They will perhaps move offshore, jobs will not be created, and regulatory excess trumps citizen health.

The EPA decided that the Renewable Fuel Standards, which would require the use of 35 million gallons of alternative fuels by 2017, would promote clean energy. Unfortunately the technology for producing some kinds of biofuel did not exist. The goals failed to take into account the difficulty of turning that much corn into fuel, scientific studies demonstrated that engines in older care would be damaged by the new fuels. And government agencies and the military are required to buy significant amounts of a fuel that does not exist.

Hubris reigns, common sense evaporates, and citizen’s respect for government goes a glimmering. They brought it upon themselves.  As somebody remarked the other day, when the government refuses to obey the laws, rewrites them to suit themselves, and imposes silly regulations that destroy businesses and lives, pretty soon the people will act on the example, and decide that they don’t need to follow the regulations or the laws, and then where are we? Innovation goes where it is appreciated. Job growth will go where it is wanted.


Health Care Insurers Will Get HIT With More Taxes Next Year, Which Will Be Passed On To You. by The Elephant's Child

Is it fairly clear out there that people really aren’t very enthusiastic about ObamaCare? So is it a popular idea to increase the damage the failed law is doing? One would think not. Silly me. Over the Thanksgiving weekend the administration finalized the ObamaCare Tax ( the Health Insurance Tax (HIT) Love the acronym). This is a provision in ObamaCare that will cost nearly $60 billion over the next five years and raise health care premiums by 3 percent.

The final rule, published on November 27, imposes a fee beginning in 2014 for health insurers with premium revenues over $25 million per year. Can’t have any of the dreaded insurance companies making too much money. The tax is levied for “United States health risks,” and is hidden from consumers since it is directly levied on health insurance companies.

But of course the insurance companies don’t pay the tax, you do. It will be added to the cost that you are already shocked by. It will disproportionately fall on small companies. The American Action Forum found that premiums for small businesses and household will increase as much as 3 percent over the next ten years or roughly $5,000 per family over the next decade. That’s all you need — another $5,000 added to your bill. The taxes don’t even go to fund new health care benefits, but goes right into the Treasury.

They can’t help themselves. More control, more regulations, more taxes and then they simply cannot understand why the unemployment rate stays so high. They are unable to grasp that there is a relationship between increased regulation and taxes and control and employers’ reluctance to hire. They are cheering the unemployment rate’s move from 7.3 % all the way down to 7 %. That it should be around 3 % by now never seems to occur to them.

Nevermind the Law. Just Go Ahead and Kill the Birds! by The Elephant's Child


The Justice Department announced a couple of weeks ago that “a subsidiary of Duke Energy has agreed to pay $1 million for killing golden eagles and other federally protected birds at two of the company’s wind projects in Wyoming. The guilty plea was long overdue victory for the rule of law and a sign that green energy might be going out of vogue.”

“As Justice noted in its news release, this is the first time a case has been brought against a wind company for violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The 1918 law makes it a federal crime to kill any bird of more than 1,000 different species. Over the past few decades, federal authorities have brought hundreds of cases against oil and gas companies for killing birds, while the wind industry has enjoyed a de facto exemption. By bringing criminal charges against Duke for killing 14 golden eagles and 149 other protected birds, Justice has ended the legal double standard on enforcement.”

Triumph of hope over Obama priorities. The Obama administration is about to approve a rule that will ensure the death of golden and bald eagles for the next 30 more years. Hundreds of thousands of birds die each year flying into the deadly turbine blades atop the towers of a wind farm. Many wind farms are built in mountain passes where wind is more likely, but that is the birds migrating course as well. The birds that are not chopped up by turbines are often fried by solar arrays.

It gets to be a real problem when you divide everything up into political interest groups, according to how much cash they donate. The Keystone XL Pipeline proved that Greens trump Unions. Unions trump Hispanics, and Hispanics trump Blacks. Where women fit into the priority line, I don’t know, or Gays. The good of the country, or the rule of law, are nowhere to be found. Politics trumps all.

The renewable energy business is also losing its lustre, as the public discovers how expensive “green jobs” are. In January Texas Comptroller Susan Combs reported that each wind related job in Texas, the top wind energy state in the union, cost taxpayers $1.75 million. People are also discovering that they don’t much like wind turbines that ruin scenic countryside, reduce property values and create excessive noise. Chris Clarke of KCET reported that the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, a new solar-thermal project in the Mojave Desert killed 52 birds just in October, killed by the intense heat generated by the project’s mirrors.

The President does not change his mind. If he believed that Infrastructure was the key to economic growth in 2008, he still believes that today. Unfortunately, the world is changing its mind. Global warming is no longer a threat, the climate has been cooling for 17 years, and “alternative energy” is way too expensive, and in light of our new wealth in oil and gas from fracking and shale-oil projects on course to make us the Saudi Arabia of the world, maybe it’s not worth it to kill all those birds so carelessly.

And the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 is just an old law. The President can just wave his hand and say that it doesn’t apply to his administration because he likes wind and solar energy better.

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