American Elephants


Obama Offers Welfare to the Miners and Power Plant Workers He Threw Out of Work With His EPA Regulations by The Elephant's Child
May 15, 2015, 10:19 pm
Filed under: Politics | Tags: , , ,

Ever wonder why the economy isn’t improving and columnists are wondering if we are entering another recession? Obama’s plans to create jobs don’t measure up to his efforts to throw people out of work. Agencies churn out regulations to better control the economy, without any realization that there is a cost for every regulation, either in lost jobs or in higher prices. The U.S. economy reported a 1.9% drop in productivity in the first quarter of the year.

Money that might have contributed to wealth-creating innovations has gone instead to financial deal-making. With fewer opportunities for growth, but plenty of available credit, mergers are often the most sensible way for a company to expand.

The Kauffman Foundation tracks new businesses, and its data show that 2013 was the second consecutive year to show an entrepreneurial activity decline in the United States. Becoming an entrepreneur takes a special kind of courage. It takes even more during an administration that has twice set a record by turning out more than 81,000 pages of regulations.

Senator Elizabeth Warren and others on the left want to blame this on corporations, but it is a perfectly rational response to the heavy burden of the Obama regulatory machine.The Left would like to demand that business make more investments, but when there is opportunity people are ready to exploit it. Even near-zero interest rates which make borrowing easy have not been able to offset ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank, the EPA, and the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world.

Thousands of coal miners and coal-fired power plant workers have been laid off since Obama took office, due to federal regulations. Kentucky has lost 644 power plant jobs from 2008 to 2013. More to come with the “Clean Power Plan.”

Now the Obama administration is happy to announce $35 million in grants:to help workers and communities to successfully adapt to changes in the coal industry and power sector.” The Power+Plan is to develop truly cohesive relationships at the federal level to create real economic opportunities for families throughout the region: In other words now that our dumb regulations have put you out of work, you can go on welfare.

The government is far more careful with their language. They will “take a comprehensive approach towards economic diversification and worker advancement in implementing their economic development strategic plans. Experience shows that projects which integrate both economic development and workforce development solutions with broad community partnerships are more successful than when independent solutions are pursued.”

There you go. Sounds better in bureaucratese. How about green energy jobs, or teaching people how to insulate houses? But that didn’t work last time either, did it? Infrastructure, that’s it. Those crumbling roads and bridges.



Overregulation Matters! Here’s Why, And How It Affects You. by The Elephant's Child
May 12, 2015, 6:34 am
Filed under: Politics | Tags: , , ,

016251-caa3ea9c-59a7-11e4-bb41-d2d878d2a380

“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.



The Regulatory State Gone Amok. A Free People No More! by The Elephant's Child
May 9, 2015, 11:28 pm
Filed under: Politics | Tags: , ,

Americans generally take great pride in being a free people. That was at least partly the essence of American exceptionalism, an idea largely rejected by the President of the United States. At least as he has described it — everybody probably thinks their country is exceptional, and we’re just one nation among many. Did Americans stand up and say Whoa there, or just pay no attention to an odd verbal gaffe?

We always thought that in America, unlike most other countries, you could live your life as you saw fit as long as you assumed the same liberty applied to everyone else. Charles Murray, writing in today’s Wall Street Journal, quoted Thomas Jefferson’s first inaugural address:

The “sum of good government” was one “which shall restrain men from injuring one another” and “shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement.” Americans were to live under a presumption of freedom.

The federal government remained remarkably true to that ideal—for white male Americans, at any rate—for the first 150 years of our history. Then, with FDR’s New Deal and the rise of the modern regulatory state, our founding principle was subordinated to other priorities and agendas. What made America unique first blurred, then faded, and today is almost gone.

We now live under a presumption of constraint. Put aside all the ways in which city and state governments require us to march to their drummers and consider just the federal government. The number of federal crimes you could commit as of 2007 (the last year they were tallied) was about 4,450, a 50% increase since just 1980. A comparative handful of those crimes are “malum in se”—bad in themselves. The rest are “malum prohibitum”—crimes because the government disapproves.

What has happened? Joe and Nicole Naugler of Breckenridge County, Kentucky own 26 acres in a remote area of Breckenridge County, and on May 6th Kentucky police raided their home and took their ten children away. The police arrived, acting on “an anonymous tip,” entered their property and home without a warrant or probable cause. Nicole was home with the two oldest boys. She got in the car to leave, but got only a short way down the driveway when officers pulled her over, took the two boys in custody, offering neither justification nor documentation. Nicole, 5-months pregnant, was slammed belly first into the police car, and taken into custody. Joe was driven to the location by a friend, was ordered to turn the remaining eight children over to the County Sheriff’s deputies by 10:00 a.m. and threatened with felony charges if he did not comply. Officials have placed the kids among families in four separate counties, that the Nauglers do not know.

Child Protective Services have never visited the home, but it is believed the arrests took place because of the parents choice of “unschooling” for their children. which the family calls a “back to basics life” centered on raising animals and gardening. The children are well treated and extremely happy, their needs are being met. But the children have been taken away because someone considers their lifestyle to be “backwards.”

In New Jersey, Christopher Zimmer and his wife were interrogated by a CPS caseworker on their son’s homeschooled education to questions about vaccination and guns in the home. She demanded to enter the home, called police who allowed the CPS worker to enter the home before conducting a warrantless search. The Zimmers are suing CPS for $60 million in a case before the U.S. District Court in Trenton.

In 2013, the Code of Federal Regulations numbered over 175,000 pages. Only a fraction involved something spelled out in legislation. Since the early 1940s, Congress has been permitted by the Supreme Court to tell regulatory agencies to make rules that are “generally fair and equitable” or “just and reasonable” or that prohibit “unfair methods of competition” or “excessive profits” and leave the rest up to the regulators. Big mistake!

If a regulatory agency comes after you the “administrative courts” through which they operate are run by the agencies themselves, and there are no juries, proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, disinterested judges. Think of the EPA and the Sacketts. There are regulations that mandate a certain kind of latch for a bakery’s flour bins, for the registration form to be attached to a toddler’s folding chair, A Florida lifeguard was fired for rescuing a person who was drowning just outside the lifeguard’s assigned zone.

Charles Murray advocates systematic civil disobedience—if the government prosecutes someone for ignoring a designated regulation even though no harm has occurred, ordinary citizens will be overwhelmingly on the side of the defendant. Ignore regulations that meet the criteria for being pointless, stupid or tyrannical. Ignore them and go on about your lives as if they didn’t exist.

He advocates insurance that reimburses us for any fine the government levies and automatically triggers a proactive, tenacious legal defense against the government’s allegation even if we are technically guilty. He suggests a legal foundation whose money comes from private donors, an altruistic endeavor operating on behalf of the homeowner of small business. Or in addition, occupational defense funds that take advantage of professional expertise and drive standards of best practice.

Federal courts are already empowered to overturn agency actions that are “arbitrary,,” “capricious” or ‘an abuse of discretion,” The agencies usually win, gut the Supreme Court has a history of responding to an emerging social consensus.

One hundred and seventy-five thousand pages of federal regulations in 2013, How many more pages have been added in the last year and a half? I shudder to think. The stories of those who have fallen affray of the regulatory agencies would fill volumes. I’ve written of quite a few myself, and experienced a few as the regulatee.

Republicans do not hope to change the world. They are too mindful of the catastrophes brought about by those who dream of a better world created if they can just fix the American people and rearrange the future to fit their Progressive vision. The world has tried that and it never, never works, but ends in tyranny and poverty. Jefferson’s ideas of simply restraining men from injuring one another and leaving them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement worked pretty well for our first one hundred and fifty years. We might fortuitously try it once again.

Mr.Murray’s essay was adapted from his new book, “By the People” Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission,” published on May 12th by Crown Forum. Charles Murray is a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.



The Department of Justice Wants to Shut Down Your Swimming Pool. by The Elephant's Child

The heavy hand of Big Government has descended upon swimming pools. The Justice Department has deemed to regulate all pools in the mindless effort to be “fair” — this time to the disabled, to make sure they have access, even to those things to which they have no wish to have access. The DOJ says this will cost $ 1 billion over each of the next 15 years. Here’s Heritage’s brief description.

The new rules require (for the first time) that swimming pools, wading pools, and spas—some 300,000 of them—be made “accessible” for the disabled. But the folks who actually own the pools have no say in how to comply. On the contrary, the government dictates every detail (e.g., “A transfer space of 60 inches minimum by 60 inches minimum with a slope not steeper than 1:48 shall be provided at the base of the transfer platform surface and shall be centered along a 24 inch minimum side of the transfer platform.”)

These regulations were published on September 15, 2010, after a rulemaking that stretched six years. Shortly thereafter, manufacturers began furious production of the various components needed to retrofit pools. Hotels and the like were racing to meet the compliance deadline despite lacking clarity on key elements of the regulation.

The regulators clearly have no comprehension of the nature of swimming pools.  Your typical municipal pool serves many purposes. Swim lessons for kids, and for all ages. Competition swimming for swim teams, competition diving. Lap swimming for swimmers who want exercise. Water exercise classes. Red Cross safety swimming lessons from beginner through life saving. Water ballet. All that before you get down to ordinary swimming which involves exercise, play, cooling off, teaching babies to swim.

The city where I live in the Pacific Northwest has a population of just over 122,000, lots of parks, nestled between two lakes. It has one indoor city swimming pool that serves multiple populations, including all of the above. It is usually crowded, busy, and heavily chlorinated. The times that you can use it depend on your particular need.

A number of years ago, a group of citizens who had disabled members requested facilities for the disabled. The building housing the pool was enlarged to accommodate another pool, and a special pool was built with gentle ramps. The pool is shallow, probably 4 feet in the deep part, with good  hand rails. The water is kept at a warmer temperature than the active pool. Cost was high with the new building. redesigned facilities and redesigned parking lot.

The city also has a YMCA, a number of private swim clubs, and in recent years a proliferation of health clubs, many of which have pools for members. There is some pressure on the city to build another city pool, as the existing one is really too busy.

Even the pool specially built for the disabled serves many purposes: there’s a baby swim class for mothers and babies, and a water movement class, aside from whatever classes they have for the disabled. It is a nice pool, and well designed for its uses. The rules would require the city to retrofit the other pool, unused by the disabled.

The disabled can move more easily in warm water, and can move in ways that they cannot outside the pool. Regular use is therapeutic. What they do not need is to be in a crowded swimming pool with all sorts of swimmers and splashers. My grandmother was badly crippled with arthritis, but could swim (slowly with a gentle side stroke of sorts) in warm water and it was very beneficial.

Some 120 regulations taking effect in the past year require enhanced accommodations for disabled individuals at 65 different types of public and private facilities—encompassing 7 million privately owned sites and 80,000 units of state and local government—including stadiums; convention centers; auditoriums; airport terminals; public parking facilities; theaters and concert halls; jails; prisons; bowling alleys; fishing piers; amusement parks; hotels, motels, and spas; restaurants; stores; health care clinics; and office buildings (to name a few).

Pools were required to be in compliance by March 12, 2012. But the DOJ came up with another rule about how lifts were to be attached to pool decks that meant that many pools that had retrofitted had to do it over, so they got a 60 day extension.

There are hot spring pools throughout the Rocky Mountain West that are were open to the public. Retrofitting as the DOJ demands is probably more than they can afford.There are several books available listing hot springs in the West with pictures and facilities described. The vast majority will probably have to shut down. The vast majority have probably never had a disabled customer — because they are not “disabled accessible” or because there is no interest? I don’t know the answer to that.

I do know that the kind of facilities that truly serve the needs of a disabled person require more than a lift. They require a little intelligence from the rulemakers. and some understanding of the nature of swimming pools. One rule for all may be “fair” from the view of the rulemakers, and devastating to the people.



Government Takeover Continues: Internet, News, Health Care, Energy, Transportation, Housing, Finance, Food Supply. by The Elephant's Child

The Obama administration’s drive to control or regulate every sector of the economy continues apace.  Yesterday it was “Food Safety” which slapped unneeded regulation on a food industry with a record of significantly declining problems of food safety.  It is, after all, very much in the food sector’s self-interest to police themselves very carefully. They have the example of the phony Alar scare promoted by  Fenton Communications, to remind them.

Now Julian Genachowski, Federal Communications Commission Chairman, has announced plans to adopt net neutrality regulations over the objections of lawmakers and in spite of a federal court ruling in April that said the FCC lacked the authority  from Congress to restrict how Internet service providers manage traffic on their networks.

Only two weeks ago, Mr. Genachowski was telling state utility regulators in a speech that “the economy and jobs” would be the “primary focus” of the FCC.  “We’re focused on seizing the opportunities of communication technologies to catalyze private investment, foster job creation, compete globally and create broad opportunity in the United States,” he said.. “Our sector — the information technologies and communications sector — can play a big role in driving economic success for the U.S. in the near-term and the long-term.” Uh huh.

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell said the five-member commission, which is controlled by Democrats, will soon vote to “upend three decades of bipartisan and international consensus that the internet is best able to thrive in the absence of regulation.  By choosing this highly interventionist course, the Commission is ignoring the will” of Congress. (emphasis added)

Last year internet service providers spent nearly $60 billion to deploy next-generation networks to customers across the country. Sticking the telecom industry with new rules to hamper capital investment would lead to years of litigation and regulatory uncertainty —another set of the kind of job killing in which the Obama administration specializes. This is also an indication that Obama plans to circumvent Congress by using his administrative agencies to accomplish his plans.

Another FCC Commissioner, Michael  Copps, has suggested that news broadcasters should be subject to a new “public values test” every four years. He suggested that a broadcaster’s license renewal should be contingent on proof that they meet a prospective set of federal criteria.  They should prove they have made a meaningful commitment to public affairs and news programming (for instance by showing they depict women and minorities) report more to the government about which shows they plan to air, offer more disclosure on who funds political ads and devote 25 percent of their time to local news.  Rep Joe Barton (R-TX) responded “I hope…that you do not mean to suggest that it is the job of the federal government, through the [FCC] to determine the content that is available for Americans to consume.”

We know that Obama hates Fox News, but these efforts to exert control over every segment of the American economy are completely out of line.  The Left has always believed that things are more efficiently done by the government, an idea that is belied by the results achieved by government.  There’s not much that couldn’t be done more efficiently and cheaper by private enterprise.

These efforts at control and regulation exceed anything I’ve seen before, and would seem more at home in a banana republic.  Oil prices are climbing sharply as the price of crude has gone up — to some extent due to taking American oil from the Gulf of Mexico off the market.

Electricity from wind farms is many times more expensive than that from ordinary coal or natural gas-fired plants.  And due to the intermittent nature of both wind and solar they cannot produce electricity in any significant amount.  Obama’s efforts to force Americans to accept his fantasy of a clean green economy will fail completely if our experience is the same as that of the other nations that have tried it.

Efforts to transform the transportation sector have bogged down in  the unwanted Volt,  the failure of ethanol, Obama’s missing “shovel-ready” projects, high-speed trains to nowhere, cash for clunkers, and the auto bailout that mostly enriched the unions.

The housing sector is a mystery shrouded in the books of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac which are unavailable. Nobody seems to know what has happened to all the “toxic assets” that were causing the problems, nor to what extent the inventory of foreclosed homes is being sold.

The Dodd/Frank financial bill does not address the very major problem of businesses deemed “Too Big To Fail.”  They all apparently remain too big to fail.  The bill is full of pages and pages of regulations, but whether any actually fix problems is unknown.  Many large corporations have chosen to improve their bottom lines by rent seeking, which seems to be welcomed by the government.

ObamaCare is designed to gradually funnel everyone into single-payer government-controlled health care. It will cost far more than the health care that they claimed was too expensive, there will not be enough doctors to serve the newly insured, and quality and service will deteriorate as wait-times and costs increase.

Those are the sectors of the economy over which I see the Obama administration attempting to exert ever more control — and in most cases the real regulation has not yet been issued.  We have only the broad generalities outlined by Congress, which then go to new offices of government employees which will develop the regulations in all their particular detail.



The Ministry of Truth Wants Your Help!! by The Elephant's Child

Do you have any doubt that Washington bureaucrats were completely out of touch with ordinary Americans?  If you do, the Environmental Protection Agency is standing right up to reassure you — they are!.

With Americans across the country suffering from unemployment, worried about their jobs, government spending, the national debt and reeling under a wave of new taxes, fees and regulations, the EPA has offered — a contest.  And not just any old contest.  The EPA wants YOU to make a short video — just 60-90 seconds — explaining just how useful and important government regulations are.  Yes, they are completely out of touch.

The introductory video from the EPA  explains the contest, and to explain the sheer wonderfulness of regulations offers, as an example — “cash for clunkers.” Really!  Better known as the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS).  (A good acronym is important).  Don’t get too excited, the contest ends Monday, so if you haven’t submitted your video, you’re probably too late.

The video above was submitted by the Heritage Foundation, in the interest of providing a slightly different perspective.  They thought it was worthwhile to point out Washington’s habit of promoting job-killing expansive and useless regulation.  The first comment on the EPA announcement video was clear and simple:

November 2010.  Vote the bums out.

The second comment was more detailed:

Disgusting.
From the site: “When Congress writes a statute and the President signs it, it usually doesn’t have enough detail for it to be put into effect. So, federal agencies fill in the details by issuing regulations.”
Doesn’t the U.S. Constitution entrust the Legislative Branch for writing, ahem, legislation? Why is the executive branch writing rules that have the force of law, including fines and imprisonment?
The system is totally corrupt. And they’re asking us to say how nice it is.



Great Moments in the Green Bureaucracy’s Regulatory Adventures. by The Elephant's Child
May 7, 2010, 7:30 am
Filed under: Environment, Humor, Junk Science, Law | Tags: , ,

Henry Payne recounted this delightful classic —  reprinted by the Mackinac Center —  in Planet Gore at National Review.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, a hapless bureaucracy in Michigan’s capital city, with careful attention to the rules and regulations of  Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994.  Here is the DEQ letter to a private landowner reprinted in all its indignant, bureaucratic fury.

DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY
LANSING MI 48909-7973
December 17, 1997
CERTIFIED

Mr. Ryan DeVries
2088 Dagget
Pierson, MI 49339

Dear Mr. DeVries:

SUBJECT: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023-1 T11N, R10W, Sec. 20, Montcalm County

It has come to the attention of the Department of Environmental Quality that there has been recent unauthorized activity on the above referenced parcel of property.  You have been certified as the legal landowner and/or contractor who did the following unauthorized activity: Construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet stream of Spring Pond.

A permit must be issued prior to the start of this type of activity. A review of the Department’s files show that no permits have been issued. Therefore, the Department has determined that this activity is in violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws annotated.

The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially failed during a recent rain event, causing debris dams and flooding at downstream locations.  We find that dams of this nature are inherently hazardous and cannot be permitted. The Department therefore orders you to cease and desist all unauthorized activities at this location, and to restore the stream to a free-flow condition by removing all wood and brush forming the dams from the stream channel.  All restoration work shall be completed no later than January 31, 1998.  Please notify this office when the restoration has been completed so that a follow-up site inspection may be scheduled by our staff.

Failure to comply with this request, or any further unauthorized activity on the site, may result in this case being referred for elevated enforcement action.

We anticipate and would appreciate your full cooperation in this matter.  Please feel free to contact me at this office if you have any questions.

Sincerely,
David L. Price
District Representative
Land and Water Management Division


The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s infamous regulatory war against beaver dams — the clueless, indignant bureaucrats had probably never seen a beaver.  They’re really kind of cute.  And they will never, never live this one down.




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,104 other followers

%d bloggers like this: