American Elephants

Exit Stage Left: Whiny, Self-Justifying, With Elaborate Excuses by The Elephant's Child

obama-olderIn Juno of 2008, a younger Barack Obama spoke eloquently about his future role as a transformative president.

I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.

The caring for the sick part didn’t work out so well, The Obama bureaucrats could not conceive of a plan where the decisions were left to physicians, and wrapped the medical establishment in a cocoon of regulations; for example, an encounter with a patient was supposed to last just 7½ minutes. Keep an eye on your watch and think that one through.

Young Emily Smith has an unexplained itchy rash, prescription written easily within the time limit. Mrs. Grundy, however, has been having chest pains and is running a fever, is about 40 pounds overweight, and may well have heart disease. 7½ minutes? The failures of ObamaCare, Medicaid, Medicare, the Indian Health Service and VA hospitals have a lot in common. The administrative state, over-regulation, silly rules, and the inability to hold bureaucrats to account adds up. There’s a reason why so many doctors will not accept patients with these versions of government insurance.

The good jobs that were promised have also gone a glimmering. Obama has proudly enumerated all the new jobs created each month, but it turns out that almost all the new jobs created during the Obama administration were part time or temporary jobs. The administration’s conviction that they are smarter than the ordinary people out there has meant an overweening impulse to control and regulate. In 2016, the lame duck administration has added 3,853 regulations, 18 for every law — a record 97,110 pages of red tape. Small business is drowning in them. Three of my favorite small businesses have given up the ghost, and I’ll bet that several of your favorites have too.  All too often, bureaucrats invent new regulations with no idea of how they affect business in the real world. This description of “the Administrative State.” shows clearly how it all happens.

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. (this comes from Steven Hayward, quoting Boston University Law Professor Gary Lawson in an article for the Harvard Law Review)

The Obama Administration has put forth 25 “midnight regulations” rules that are published between Election Day and before the next president in inaugurated on January 20. According to the American Action For4um, they will cost the economy $44.1 billion. Obama’s eight years in office did not include even one year of economic growth at the normal 3% historical average.

Obama has ordered the EPA to proceed with its controversial Stream Protection Rule—which would make mining so difficult it would make 85 percent of the nation’s coal reserves unrecoverable. On Tuesday he designated most federally owned land in the Arctic Ocean and large swaths off the Atlantic Coast closed to drilling, which would prevent any production of huge reserves of oil and gas.

George W.Bush went to great lengths to make the transition easy for the incoming Obama administration, recognized that his time in the spotlight was over, and refused to comment on his successors failures and mistakes. And even in spite of being blamed for everything that didn’t work out, Mr. Bush remained a gentleman. Mr. Obama learned nothing from his predecessor, and will exit—whiny, self-justifying and full of excuses. In his “exit interview” on CNN with his former advisor David Axlerod, Obama pledged he would abide by tradition and retire with dignity as ex-president. We’ll see about that.

The Obama Administration Has Imposed 75,000 Pages of New Regulations on the People This Year.. by The Elephant's Child

Regulations cannot be written to adequately cover all situations. Rules and regulations are making it harder to do the right thing.

Philip K. Howard explained in a column  on Saturday how red tape is strangling good Samaritans:

In January 2014, a lifelong District of Columbia parks employee, Medric Mills, collapsed while walking with his grown daughter. They were across the street from a fire station, close enough for his daughter to yell for help. Mills was lying on the sidewalk, dying, right in front of people trained to save him. But they refused to cross the street to help because, they told bystanders, the rules required them instead to call 911. By the time the ambulance arrived, over 10 minutes later, it was too late—Mills died soon after arriving at the hospital.

This is how many public safety officers are trained nowadays. In 2011, firemen in Alameda County refused to rescue a suicidal man who had swum out to sea because they hadn’t yet been re-certified for “land-based water rescues.” Therefore, they explained to passers-by, it would be illegal for them to try to save the man’s life. Later that day, when the fire chief was asked by a reporter what he would have done if it had been a drowning child, he said, “Well, if I was off duty I would know what I would do, but I think you’re asking me my on-duty response and I would have to stay within our policies and procedures because that’s what’s required by our department to do.”

Law is essential to freedom because it safeguards citizens against misconduct and abuse. By drawing boundaries against wrongful conduct, law provides a protective zone of freedom within those boundaries. …

Modern law goes a giant step backwards — it often bars people from doing what’s right. Law’s proper role is now seen as instructing people how to make daily choices. Instead of providing the framework for freedom, law has replaced it, creating a legal minefield rather than an open field for free choice

If you have had a doctor’s appointment this past year, or even a hospital stay, you nay have noticed the complexities arising from a batch of new rules and regulations imposed by ObamaCare.

We  have all seen dozen of stories about school principals slavish adherence to zero tolerance policies, resulting in the utmost stupidity and punishing or expelling a child for behavior that is just being a normal kid.

When regulations don’t work, they are ‘fixed’ by adding another regulation on top. Slowly, slowly it becomes impossible for government to do anything.

We have a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) which theoretically forces government agencies to release needed information on a timely basis, yet FOIA requests sit moldering in inboxes for years. We are told that we desperately need a new electric grid, and even more urgently we need to harden off the grid from a potential EMP attack — yet Howard says in his book The Rule of Nobody, that it simply cannot be done. There are too many jurisdictions with differing laws, there is nobody in charge who can override the restrictions already enacted into law.

The situation as it is — deteriorating — is made far worse by the Liberal belief that the job of the Washington elite is to fix things by regulating bad behavior, which is often defined as anything with which they do not agree. They really, really don’t like disagreement.

There are no signs that eliminating bad law and foolish regulation is high on anyone’s To Do list.

“The Obama administration has proposed or imposed over 1,200 new  regulations on the American people that will add even more to the already crushing $2 trillion  per year cost burden of the federal regulatory machine. …In all the Obama administration foisted more than 75,000 pages of regulations on the United States in 2014, costing over $200 billion, on the low-end if new proposed rules are taken into account.”

Is The Era of Big Regulation Over? Don’t Bet On It! by The Elephant's Child

President Obama has written an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal editorial page.  He announced a new executive order to restore “balance” to federal regulation and search out rules that impede job creation and economic growth.

Not his regulations, mind you; but for example, he mentioned the defunct EPA rule that treated saccharin as hazardous waste. After a political voter rebuke largely based on regulatory overkill, he needs to show some willingness to take his foot off the gas.  He is, he says, willing to concede that he dimly hears the screams of anguish from the business community.

Liberals have refused for years to hear the complaints from the business community that their agenda created uncertainty and harmed the economy. Today, they woke up to discover their leader on the hated editorial page of the Wall Street Journal — saying that there might be “unreasonable burdens on business — burdens that have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs.”

President Obama goes on to tell us how effective all his regulation for the auto industry was.

The EPA and the Department of Transportation worked with auto makers, labor unions, states like California, and environmental advocates this past spring to turn a tangle of conflicting rules into one aggressive new standard [on the fuel-economy standards for cars and trucks].  It was a victory for car companies that wanted regulatory certainty, for consumers who will pay less at the pump, for our security, as we save 1.8 billion barrels of oil, and for the environment as we reduce pollution.

There is so much wrong with that statement that it is breathtaking. Singling the EPA out as an example of “smart” regulation is telling.  There is no agency of government that is more busily issuing useless regulations that do incalculable damage.  But it helps to make it clear that any moves toward reform of regulation will be tactical and cosmetic, rather than substantive.

President Obama believes in regulation. He believes in lots of regulation.  You simply cannot have ordinary people and businesses acting without the heavy hand of wise government to keep them from making foolish decisions and taking unfortunate actions.  Government knows best.  Obama is demonstrating a measured cosmetic move to the center, and a new cosmetic civility. Pay no attention to his words — pay attention to his actions when Congress tries to temper the administration’s regulatory overreach.

The Regulatory State Wraps You in a Network of Red Tape. by The Elephant's Child

The bigger and more intrusive government becomes, the less that it can do effectively.

Fredrich Hayek, the Austrian-American economist and Nobel Laureate, devoted much of his brilliant career to describing how rationalism could never work.  How can anything good happen.  Hayek asked, if individuals cannot think and act for themselves?  Rules preclude initiative.  Regimentation precludes evolution.  Letting accidents happen, mistakes be made, results in new ideas.  Trial and error is the key to all progress.  The Soviet system of rules and central planning is doomed to failure,  Hayek stated fifty years ago, because it kills the human faculty that makes things work.

ADDENDUM: Alexandria, Virginia residents soon will have to pay for larger home recycling bins featuring  monitoring devices. Also a mandatory $9 charge added to the waste collection fee.  The new recycling carts will be equipped with microchips which will allow the city to keep track of its bins and track residents’ participation in the city’s recycling program.

“If you know who’s participating in the programs, you can focus your education and outreach to those who are not participating.” New bin sizes range from 25 to 65 gallons, replacing the old 18 gallon bins.  Apparently the larger the bin, the more people recycle.  But you will notice that nobody mentions whether the recycled goods are sold, or go straight to the landfill.  Aluminum cans are always recyclable, but other things depend on the market, and there is often no market. Alexandria hopes to raise its current recycling rate from 29 percent to 35 percent.

I recycle.  The yard waste makes good compost which I get to buy back at an exorbitant price after paying to have it taken away.  I hate Nanny Government, and I just learned that the recycling truck drivers (unionized) here, make $125,000, and were striking for higher wages.

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