American Elephants

Obama’s Regulations Add $14,768 to Your Family Budget! by The Elephant's Child

For twenty years, Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute has tracked the growth of new regulations. In the 20th anniversary edition this week, the latest annual Index of Federal Rules shows that — Team Obama is now the red tape record holder. Are you surprised?

The pages in the Code of Federal Regulation hit an all-time high of 174,545 pages in 2012, an increase of more than 21% in the last decade. Mr Crews estimates that in 2012 the cost of  federal rules exceeded $1.8 trillion, roughly equal to the GDP of Canada. This is what American business has to cope with. The costs are embedded in nearly everything Americans buy. Mr. Crews calculates the costs to add up to about $14,768 per household. After housing, red tape costs are the second largest item in the family budget.

It’s not just the cost of the regulatory burden, there are that many regulations that must be obeyed, or the over-regulation will lead to over-criminalization. You won’t know what rule you broke until the swat-team comes to get you.

Every so often some member of Congress will gather up a selection of silly regulations and make speeches, or perhaps even write a bill. But there is no regular avenue for disposing of unnecessary regulation. If you remember, there was a fuss raised a while back, over business’s protests about excessive regulation. President Obama said he’d assign all his cabinet officers to find regulations that they could get rid of to save money. Mr. Obama got considerable mileage out of the farm rule that treated spilled milk as a hazardous oil spill (butterfat, I guess).  Since he used that one example several times, I assume that there really weren’t any others removed from the Federal Register.

Last year, 4,062 regulations were at various stages of implementation in the nation’s capitol. The government completed work on 1,172, an increase of 16% over the previous year, which was a 40% increase in the year before that. President Obama ‘s record 78,961 pages churned out in 2012 mean that he has posted three of the four greatest paperwork years on record.

“Economically significant” rules are those that will cost at least $100 million each. The current administration is in a class by itself. The bureaucracy finished up 57 such rules in 2012 and another 167 are in the pipeline.  They come from ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank and the EPA’s effort to use regulation to impose an anti-carbon-fuels agenda that Congress would not pass.

It’s the pure totalitarian impulse, of course. Nothing so frightens the Left as individual freedom. Give the people an inch and there’s no telling what they might do. Control is the goal. How can they enforce equality, social justice and make sure that” everyone gets a fair shot, does their fair share, and plays by the same rules,” if they don’t carefully spell out just what the rules are.

What we need is a mechanism to get rid of useless rules, outdated rules, unneeded rules, and intrusive, damaging rules. Much-needed housekeeping. The underlying problem is that Congress likes to dispose of problems with massive bills that include all sorts of unrelated amendments, things that couldn’t have been passed alone, and the old ‘nobody’s read the whole thing’ problem. They say that this agency will and that department shall, but they don’t actually make laws themselves — they distribute it to the bureaucracy who will make the rules that fill up the Federal Register. It’s how we get Big Government and why it keeps getting Bigger.

You Incompetent People Cannot Manage Your Lives Without Government Regulation.. by The Elephant's Child

Last week, 1,571 new pages of regulations were published in the 2012 Federal Register. That brings the total for this year to more than 55,300 pages. In those pages, 76 new final rules were approved.

That figure is equivalent to a new regulation every 2 hours and 13 minutes — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  That is absurd.

So far, 2708 final rules have been published in the Federal Register this year. At its current pace the 2012 Federal Register will run to 79,463 pages.

President Obama is out on the campaign trail, telling his listeners that Republicans’ only answer to anything — is to cut taxes, and to cut regulation — on Wall Street so they can do it all over again. He expects applause and a big laugh. Stupid Republicans!

Republicans have been attempting to tell the President and Congress for the last 4 years (well, longer than that) that one of the big reasons that businesses are not hiring, is the burden of regulation. The National Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations have tried to lobby the government, to make them understand that excessive regulation is a big problem. They will not listen, because they know better. There are just so many things that annoy the perpetually discontented, and now that they are in charge, they must fix things. The people must conform to their ideas, however dumb.

There are rules and there are economically significant regulations. If they have costs of $100 million or more a year. Most businesses or kinds of businesses would consider that to be significant. The 36 economically significant rules published so far in 2012 have compliance costs of at least $17.4 billion. So far, 521 final rules affect small business. 72 of them are significant rules. Why would anyone think this might be a problem? Only small businessmen who must consider the risk of investment and the chances of earning a profit. (For Democrats, if there’s no profit, they go out of business entirely).

— Last week’s economically significant rule comes from— the EPA. It has set new performance standards for oil refineries under five years old. Estimated compliance costs are $79 million, but EPA estimates range from $200 million to $1.9 billion. Translation: they have no clue.

— The EPA also published a rule on paper mill emissions. They estimate $5.9 million in capital costs and $2.1 million in annually recurring costs. They declined to quantify benefits because they “were unable to quantify the emissions reductions associated with the new requirements in the final rule.”  Translation: they don’t know if there are any benefits, but they love making rules — the Clean Air Act is a great catch-all. They are truly zealous, constantly grasping for more power and issuing more useless rules. The agency should be abolished.

— Alpha Natural Resources announced today it would be laying off 1,200 workers and closing eight coal mines to face two new challenges: cheap natural gas and “a regulatory environment that’s aggressively aimed at constraining the use of coal.” Coal supplies nearly half of the energy that supplies our economy, and cheap energy has propelled private enterprise to success. President Obama, at the urging of his Big Green supporters, doesn’t like coal. He likes windmills and solar cells (which he buys from China with Stimulus dollars). In July 175 goal-fired generators, or 8.5 % of total coal-fired capacity was expected to be closed in 2012.

— PBS Coals and RoxCoal Inc. laid off 225 workers, citing aggressive regulations. Ohio American Energy announced layoffs in Ohio and 50 employees would be affected. Patriot Coal filed for bankruptcy in July, which will impact 250 jobs in Southern West Virginia. Just subtract these out-of-work citizens from the approximately 300,000 jobs that Obama can possibly claim the economy created.

The 4.5 million jobs he claims to have created were always fantasy.

Bureaucrats Know Better How a Job Should Be Done. Really? by The Elephant's Child

A bipartisan group of sixty House members has called on the Department of Transportation to reverse the regulatory guidance that was issued in June, limiting the ability of supply trucks to service oil and gas fields.

They not only argued that the guidance reversed 50 years of established practice without warning to the industry. The regulatory guidance will harm not just the oil and gas industry, but related industries that also contribute to job growth. “Such a change significantly restricts the operations of individuals and businesses engaged in hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ operations, increasing their costs and restricting their ability to provide good-paying jobs to American citizens and low-cost energy to U.S. consumers” they said in a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. There they go with the job-killing regulations again.

Th Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released regulatory guidance in June. It is often necessary for drivers servicing oil and gas fields to stay on duty beyond 11 hours because fields may be in remote areas accessible only by unpaved roads. In addition, once trucks get to the oil or gas field, they are often forced to wait to load or unload, based on the activity going on at the site. Other drivers would be capped at 11 hours. This makes it hard for sites to coordinate its operations, would require more trucks and drivers, increase costs and produce more vehicle traffic.

The FMCSA is holding “listening sessions” around the country.

“A Child’s First Book of Government Regulations” by The Elephant's Child

You really must see “A Child’s First Book of Government Regulations“at the Doug Ross Journal.  An excellent survey of wretched government excess.  Not all of it, of course — all of it would take volumes and volumes.

The Democrats’ Insatiable Demand to Regulate Other People’s Lives by The Elephant's Child

Nanny government strikes again.  Or should we call them the Food Police? The Food Police raided an Amish farm in Pennsylvania,at 5 o’clock in the morning.  The raid was the result of a yearlong sting operation including aliases and surreptitious purchases, which concluded this week with the federal government’s announcement that it has gone to court to stop Rainbow Acres Farm from selling its contraband to willing customers.  The contraband in question— unpasteurized milk.

This is a battle that has been going on behind the scenes for years.  Natural foods advocates argue that raw milk is healthier than the pasteurized product.  The Food and Drug Administration says that raw milk may carry harmful bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli and listeria. (So does the raw chicken you bring home from the store, but most people learn to cook the chicken).

Tamara Ward, FDA spokesman said “It is the FDA’s position that raw milk should never be consumed.” They filed a 10-page complaint in federal court seeking an order to stop the farm from shipping across state lines any more raw milk or dairy products made from it.

This  federal government has become noted for all the violations of law that they choose to ignore, but drinking raw milk is beyond the pale.  Raw-milk devotees are furious.

Raw-milk devotees say pasteurization, the process of heating food to kill harmful organisms, eliminates good bacteria as well, and changes the taste and health benefits of the milk. Many raw-milk drinkers say they feel much healthier after changing over to it, and insist they should have the freedom of choice regarding their food.

One defense group says there are as many as 10 million raw-milk consumers in the country. Sales are perfectly legal in 10 states but illegal in 11 states and the District, with the other states having varying restrictions on purchase or consumption.

Congress has joined the nanny state regulation.  They are forcing vendors to post the calorie counts of vending machine items. Thus we will pick the ancient apples instead of potato chips or heaven forbid — a Snickers bar.

Last year, President Obama signed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act which grants the FDA all sorts of new regulatory authority. ($1.4 billion in new spending— did you think regulation is free?)

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act would authorize the FDA to dictate how farmers grow fruits and vegetables, including rules governing soil, water, hygiene, packing, temperatures, and even what animals may roam which fields and when. It would also increase inspections of food “facilities” and tax them to do so. And, fulfilling the dream of a long line of agency officials, the bill grants the FDA unilateral authority to order recalls.

There’s more.  The USDA, the Department of Agriculture, has declared war on potatoes. The tuber itself contains no fat, is low in calories, and supplies about the same nutrition as a banana.  It adapts itself deliciously to being fried, topped with sour cream, butter, bacon and cheese. Bananas only get topped with ice cream and chocolate sauce.

The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine recently recommended that the potato should be blacklisted from the variety of starchy vegetables to be included in the federally funded, state-provided WIC (Women, Infants ,Children) program.  That is now trickling down into the school lunch program.

This is idiocy. A very large percentage of school lunches end up in the garbage can, as anyone who has visited a school during lunch period can attest. The elimination of salt has spoiled flavor, and contra Mrs. Obama, parents are better judges of what their children should eat than the federal government.

The federal government is intruding into areas where it does not belong.  Big Time! Neither the FDA nor the Department of Agriculture nor any of their assorted bureaus have any business telling the American people what they may or may not eat. But the Nannies desire to tell other people what to do is insatiable.

The Obama Administration’s Regulatory Nightmare by The Elephant's Child

It’s hard to keep up with the regulatory proposals coming from government agencies. The Foundry, a Heritage Foundation blog, is trying to keep track of the more noxious ones. Today, they are pointing out the excesses of the U.S. Department of Energy.

They already regulate the design of air conditioners, battery chargers, boilers, ceiling fans, dehumidifiers, dishwashers, dryers, freezers, furnaces, heat pumps, light bulbs, refrigerators, toilets and washers. We now have washing machines that are several times more expensive and literally do not clean your clothes. Dishwashers no longer clean your dishes, and after the Volt fires in Connecticut, the regulations for battery chargers may need a second look.

The addition for today concerns a return to the shower.  The Energy {Policy Conservation Act of 1992 prescribed a measly 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) at 80 pounds per square inch of water pressure.  This was quite a dramatic reduction in showering pleasure from the 5 gpm or even 10 gpm of previous showerheads. The Department stated that: “It has always been the Department’s view that when Congress used the term ‘any shower head’ it actually meant ‘any shower head’.”

Now they want to make it clear that the regulation applies to the total from multiple shower heads in any one shower. The department recently fined 4 showerhead makers $165,104 for failing to demonstrate compliance with the shower head mandate.

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 prohibits even minute levels of lead in any product intended for children 12 years of age or younger. That includes millions of children’s books printed with leaded ink.  Lead in ink was phased out in the late 1970s, but the CPSC deems any children’s book printed prior to 1986 to be potentially toxic and thus unfit for library circulation , the Goodwill store, or your neighbor’s garage sale.

The EPA is now hard at work increasing fleet-wide fuel efficiency standards for cars, and at the same time expanding the amount of ethanol in gasoline from 10% to 15%, (an amount damaging to the engines of all but the newest cars) which will dramatically decrease fuel efficiency.  Corn-based ethanol has been shown to nearly double greenhouse gas emissions over 30 years.  The spike in food prices from more ethanol will increase government spending by $1 billion a year, according to studies.

Obama policies are destroying jobs as fast as new jobs are created. Regulations accomplish nothing but unnecessary interference in peoples lives, and often simply make things worse.  There are always consequences, often unintended ones, and they seldom improve anything.

April, 2010’s Nanny of the Month Award. by The Elephant's Child
April 30, 2010, 8:04 pm
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Law, Politics, Progressivism | Tags: , ,

I yield to no one in my distaste for bureaucrats who think they must regulate everything.   But there is a serious side to all this nit-picky nannyism.  Excessive regulation leads to disrespect for the laws,  When regulations are silly, and unnecessary, people lose respect for both the regulations and for the regulators.

It seems strange for a government to outlaw incandescent lightbulbs because of a false idea that we are short of energy, as government officials build themselves multiple homes of ridiculous size, and demand private plane service.

The regulators seldom have any intent of being regulated themselves, nor of obeying any regulations.  The regulations are meant to apply only to the distasteful masses — us.

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