Filed under: Bureaucracy, Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economy, Free Markets, Freedom, History, Law, National Security, Progressivism, Regulation, The Constitution, The United States | Tags: Control Freaks, The Administrative State, Tyranny in New Forms
You will be hearing a lot more about “the administrative state” in the coming days and weeks. The name sounds way too bureaucratty to be of interest, but phrased a little differently, more like—the Progressives are a bunch of control freaks and want to ruin your life and your freedom with a constant flow of regulation to satisfy their own egos. That’s much clearer, and unfortunately true.
This seems especially clear because I’m just back from a trip to Home Depot for lightbulbs. If you have recently faced the lightbulb display at Home Depot or any similar store, you know what I mean. The federal government decided that the fear of global warming justified banning our dependable, cheap, incandescent bulbs and thrusting upon us all sorts of unsatisfactory junk from China—twisty bulbs, 40 watt bulbs that are now supposed to light as well as 75 watt but don’t use up so much energy and so on. What was once a simple shopping trip has turned into a confusing nightmare. Besides, I personally believe that this has nothing to do with “saving energy” and everything to do with the fact that the lighting companies would make a lot more money if they could force us to use the noxious new bulbs made in China, that being why they have all those lobbyists in D.C. (crony capitalism).
Conservatives talk a lot about Liberty and the Constitution, but I’m afraid that that just passes millennials by. Our founding fathers were only recently subjects of England, and they had revolted and fought a war to escape what they considered tyranny and a far too administrative state. When they were writing a new constitution for the country, Liberty was paramount in their minds. How could they insure that generations hence would not lightly lose all that they had fought for? They were deeply familiar with ambition and greed, power-seeking, and all the other flaws of humanity. So they devised a system of three equal branches, so that no one branch could exert control over the others—and in general, it has worked pretty well.
When the European Union was being devised to prevent the continual wars that had plagued the continent, Valery Giscard d’ Estang, a former French President, was elected to the commission to devise a constitution for the EU. The commission looked at the U.S. Constitution, but could not imagine devolving so much power to the people. So the EU became the unaccountable body to which much of Europe is revolting and considering leaving, as Britain is now doing.
Here’s an example of how the modern administrative state tramples all over the separation of powers from Steven Hayward’s new book: Patriotism Is Not Enough. A classic paragraph from Boston University law professor Gary Lawson, in his 1994 Harvard Law Review article “The Rise and Rise of the Administrative State.”
The [Federal Trade] Commission promulgates substantive rules of conduct. The Commission then considers whether to authorize investigations into whether the Commission’s rules have been violated. If the Commission authorizes an investigation, the investigation is conducted by the Commission, which reports its findings to the Commission. If the Commission thinks that the Commission’s findings warrant an enforcement action, the Commission issues a complaint. The Commission’s complaint that a Commission rule has been violated is then prosecuted by the Commission and adjudicated by the Commission. This Commission adjudication can either take place before the full Commission or before a semi-autonomous Commission administrative law judge. If the Commission chooses to adjudicate before an administrative law judge rather than before the Commission and the decision is adverse to the Commission, the Commission can appeal to the Commission. If the Commission ultimately finds a violation, then, and only then, the affected private party can appeal to an Article III court. But the agency decision, even before the bona fide Article III tribunal, possesses a very strong presumption of correctness on matters both of fact and of law.
It’s only funny until they start coming after you. We’ve reported on Gibson Guitars, and the Sacketts case in Northern Idaho, and rancher Andy Johnson building a stock pond (above) on his property, but those are only a few of the big ones. Notable because they were so outrageous and so stupid. But excellent examples of the administrative state at work. How do you fight fines of $35,000 a day? How about telling all the school kids in the country what they have to eat for lunch? Or how about ordering all the bathrooms and locker rooms to be open to anyone who wants to come in?
Filed under: Politics | Tags: Control Freaks, Economic Damage, Progressives, Regulation
“Last week, 65 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, the same number as the previous week. That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 35 minutes.”
The American people send $1.4 trillion to Washington D.C. every year in individual income taxes. Big numbers are inclined to leave us somewhat numb. It’s very big, but we can’t really relate. Yet we send even more to Washington for another obligation that never shows up on our tax returns. The annual cost that is imposed on us by federal rules and regulations adds up to nearly $1.9 trillion. That burden works out to a staggering $14,976 per household per year. It’s hidden in the costs you pay for the goods and services you use.
Nobody objects to the ruling about a railing at the edge of the stairs so you aren’t apt to fall, but when the federal government decides that the calorie count of each ingredient in your pizza must be posted in your favorite pizza parlor—think of the cost when every restaurant in a chain must now make and post a sign with who knows how many ingredients. And then all Americans must be policed to be sure you are following the rules. The cost of American rules now exceeds the Gross Domestic Product of Canada.
President Obama has racked up the two highest annual totals in U.S. history, exceeding 81,000 pages in 2010 and 2011. A “major rule” is one that has an economic impact of $100 million or more. Mr. Obama has averaged 81 major rules a year so far. Regulations are more burdensome for small employers than big companies, but regulations can even put small businesses out of business. If you wonder why the economy is doing so poorly, or why there is still so much unemployment, there you go.
It all sounds very abstract, and it’s hard to understand how it relates to us. Those who are so sure of their own superiority cannot resist the urge to try to fix the American people. In their demand for equality for everyone, they find it impossible to stop meddling. Republicans celebrate the free market, recognizing that millions of decisions about buying and selling, coveting and hating work out to different language — the wisdom of crowds. That’s why Progressives hate the free market. They can’t control it. Who knows what the stupid people might do.
Filed under: Energy, Freedom, Law, Liberalism | Tags: Control Freaks, Regulating America's Bathrooms, Zealotry and Tyranny
In National Review Online yesterday, Rob Long described his introduction to “the world’s most complicated toilet” in a Japanese hotel. He described it delicately in an essay called “Dim Idea:”
There were hoses and nozzles where hoses and nozzles probably shouldn’t be, and along the side there was an alarming set of buttons and switches, which made the entire contraption look like a neat freak’s electric chair.
He was impressed, found an American dealer, and had one installed. It uses a lot of water, which turned his mind to the nanny government’s problem with our lightbulbs, and of course the low flush or low flow toilets that you have to flush several times, erasing the whole intent of saving water, and low-flow shower heads. Remember when they sent you the little metal washer-thingy to put in your showerhead to restrict the flow, and of course nobody did, so they ordered manufacturers to build a restrictor in? People were going to Canada to buy a decent toilet.
Unless you have stood in the aisle in Home Depot where they have the fancy showerheads, and dreamed of having one of the big ones, or the multiple nozzle versions, you may not appreciate the potential loss to us all. With those, the nannies did not go after consumers, but after the manufacturers. A big shower rose, like the Raindance Imperial 500 AIR may sell for as much as $5,457. It has a 24-inch spray face, 358 no-clog channels and a triple-massage option. Wow.
In May, the DOE turned on the plumbing-products industry, and said that it would adopt a strict definition of the term “showerhead” in enforcing standards that have been on the books, mostly unenforced, for nearly 20 years.
The industry responded quickly. “It was not the legislative intent of Congress to authorize the DOE to regulate the bathing habits of Americans,” the VP of California Faucets wrote to the DOE in June.
A 1992 federal law says a showerhead can deliver no more than 2.5 gallons per minute at a flowing water pressure of 80 pounds per square inch. For years the term “showerhead ” was deemed to refer to a nozzle. In May, the DOE decided that all nozzles were considered to be a “showerhead.”
In May, the DOE’s general counsel fined four showerhead makers $165,104 in civil penalties.
The DOE’s lawyer says that of course Congress limited consumer choice. “When you waste water, you waste energy.” Each multi-head shower fixture uses an extra 4o to 80 thermal units of energy per year, equivalent to 50 gallons of gasoline, or one barrel of oil, he says.
For a while, some time ago, I was following some of the insane regulations that were flowing out of European Union bureaucracies to control the intricacies of perfection of food in European markets. They ordered toys for pigs, they controlled the size and curvature of bananas, the shape of other fruits. The lists were endless.
A family had made a marmalade for years from apricots (if I remember correctly) but the EU said it could not be produced, for marmalade was made only from oranges. The ultimate, to me, was when they ordered farmers who sold eggs to label each egg with the name and address of the hen — in case there were complaints?
It is apparently in the nature of Lefties, that they must control the most minute details of the lives of others. We have pretty much established that they do not willingly allow others to disagree with them (see my many rants), but this drive for control of everything is just plain sick. It is not their business. Are their lives so shallow and so empty that they must fill the hours by controlling others?
There are many multi-millionaires among the Democrat leadership. I strongly suspect that most of them do not have small stall showers with water-restrictive shower heads. Lefties have never been bothered by being hypocrites, they just like to call other people that.
The sick controlling impulse of these control-freaks is way out of line. They tell themselves that they are doing it “for the children” or “to save the planet” which makes them feel good and important. They are doing it to feed their own egos, and they are neither good nor important. They are zealots. We have a long and very ugly history with zealots who cannot control their impulses. November can’t come soon enough.
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Economy, Freedom, Statism | Tags: Big Government Intrusion, Control Freaks, Transportation
Transportation Secretary Ray La Hood recently issued a memorandum of understanding. The federal government will no longer favor motorized methods of transportation. What?
For short distances, people should walk, or ride a bike. For longer distances, they should rely on public transportation. The family car is apparently passé. I wonder how Secretary La Hood gets to work? What about Government Motors? So many questions!