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Veronique de Rugy: Taming the Tyranny of the Agency

These members of the ‘government within the government,’ as The New York Times‘ John Tierney describes them, produce one freedom-restricting, economy-hindering rule after another without much oversight.

Veronique de Rugy writes: The tyranny of the administrative state is real and hard to tame. Americans would be horrified if they knew how much power thousands of unelected bureaucrats employed by federal agencies wield. These members of the “government within the government,” as The New York Times‘ John Tierney describes them, produce one freedom-restricting, economy-hindering rule after another without much oversight. These rules take many forms, and few even realize they’re in the making — until, that is, they hit you square in the face.

Take the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s rule that effectively banned car dealers from giving auto loan discounts to customers on the claim that they might lead to racial discrimination (a dubious conclusion reached using flawed statistical models). Dodd-Frank, the legislation that created the CFPB, prohibited it from regulating auto dealers — so the CFPB quietly put out a “guidance” document to circumvent due process and congressional oversight.

[Read the full story here, at Creators Syndicate]

Thankfully, this time around, someone noticed. In recent weeks, the Senate passed a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act — a streamlined procedure for Congress to repeal regulations issued by various federal government agencies. The House is expected to follow suit soon and send the bill to the president’s desk, if it hasn’t already by the time you read this. Read the rest of this entry »

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Victor Davis Hanson: Counterfeit Elitism

“Elite” is now an overused smear. But it is a fair pejorative when denoting a cadre that is not a natural or truly meritocratic top echelon, but is instead a group distinguished merely by schooling, associations, residence, connections and open disdain. If this is supposed to translate into some sort of received wisdom and acknowledged excellence, ordinary Americans may be pardoned for missing it.

victor-davis-hVictor Davis Hanson writes: Those damn dairy farmers. Why do they insist on trying to govern? Or, put another way:

Why are Republicans trusting Devin Nunes to be their oracle of truth!? A former dairy farmer who House intel staffers refer to as Secret Agent Man because he has no idea what’s going on.

Thus spoke MSNBC panelist, Yale graduate, former Republican “strategist,” and Bush administration speechwriter Elise Jordan.

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Elise Jordan

Jordan likely knows little about San Joaquin Valley family dairy farmers and little notion of the sort of skills, savvy, and work ethic necessary to survive in an increasingly corporate-dominated industry. Whereas dairy farmer Nunes has excelled in politics, it would be hard to imagine Jordan running a family dairy farm, at least given the evidence of her televised skill sets and sobriety.

Republicans “trust” Devin Nunes, because without his dogged efforts it is unlikely that we would know about the Fusion GPS dossier or the questionable premises on which FISA court surveillance was ordered. Neither would we have known about the machinations of an array of Obama Administration, Justice Department and FBI officials who, in addition to having possibly violated the law in monitoring a political campaign and unmasking and leaking names of Americans to the press, may have colluded with people in the Clinton campaign who funded the Steele dossier.

[Read the more here, at American Greatness]

“Elite” is now an overused smear. But it is a fair pejorative when denoting a cadre that is not a natural or truly meritocratic top echelon, but is instead a group distinguished merely by schooling, associations, residence, connections and open disdain. If this is supposed to translate into some sort of received wisdom and acknowledged excellence, ordinary Americans may be pardoned for missing it.

The frustration with chronic elite incompetence was a theme in the 2016 election. “Expert” pollsters assured us of a Clinton landslide. The media could not follow undergraduate rules of decorum and truthfulness. “Brilliant” Ivy League trained pundits preached that the Trump administration’s first year would be disastrous and without accomplishment. Televised legal eagles insisted that Robert Mueller by now would have indicted Team Trump on charges of Russian collusion.

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Half the country no longer believes these self-appointed authorities, largely because there is no visible connection between what the self-congratulatory say and do and any commensurate discernable accomplishment.

After a half-century of “whiz kids,” “the best and the brightest,” and “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” Americans finally yawned and are moving on.

Deplorables, Clingers, and Those Not Worthy of Worry

One symptom of such a played-out elite is its blanket condemnation of the supposed blinkered middle-class—usually evident in their virtue-signaling outrage and in their inclination to contrast their own supposed enlightenment to the supposed ignorance of everyone else.

You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? They’re racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic—Islamophobic—you name it. And unfortunately, there are people like that… Now, some of those folks—they are irredeemable, but thankfully, they are not America.

So said Yale law graduate Hillary Clinton, in an incoherent, factually unsubstantiated, and politically disastrous rant that may have lost her the 2016 election.

Clinton all but wrote off 25 percent of America as “not America”—this from the 2008 primary challenger to Barack Obama who was blasted by progressives for pandering to just such a white gun-owning consistency.

[Read the full story here, at American Greatness]

Or as Barack Obama once said, Hillary Clinton is “talking like she’s Annie Oakley . . . Hillary Clinton is out there like she’s on the duck blind every Sunday. She’s packing a six-shooter. Come on, she knows better.”

Or as Clinton herself once put it, “[I’ve] found how Senator Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me . . . There’s a pattern emerging here.”

It is hard to image the Yalie feminist Clinton having any sort of political career without attachment to president emeritus and spouse Bill Clinton, whose serial sexual harassment and assault she not only contextualized over four decades, but by serial defense fueled. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] ‘Administrative State is THE Leading Threat to Civil Liberties of Our Era’

Professor of Law at Columbia University Law School Philip Hamburger discusses the rise of the administrative state and what, if anything, can be done to reduce its power.

“The administrative state is the leading threat to civil liberties of our era,” says Philip Hamburger, the Maurice and Hilda Friedman Professor of Law at Columbia Law School and author of the recent books, Is Administrative Law Unlawful? (2015) and The Administrative Threat (2017).

“We have a system of government in which our laws are made by the folks that we elect, and these laws are enforced by judges and juries in the courts, but we have within that an administrative state, a state that acts really by mere command and not through law.” Hamburger argues that by reducing the role of elected officials to set policy, the administrative state, which has grown rapidly since World War II, disempowers blacks, women, and other minorities who have only recently gained full voting rights and political power.

[Order Philip Hamburger’s influential book Is Administrative Law Unlawful? from Amazon.com

Before he left the Trump administration, former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon famously vowed to “deconstruct” the administrative state—the collection of bureaucrats, agencies, and unelected rule-making bodies who decrees and diktats govern more and more of our lives. And many of the president’s picks at places such as the FCC, the FDA, the EPA, and the Department of Education seem to be doing just that: cutting regulations and policies that come not directly from Congress but from administrators who decide, say, that the FCC has the ability to regulate the internet as a public utility, and that so-called net neutrality is a good idea. Read the rest of this entry »


End of an Era: Failure Fondly Remembered

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TRANSFORMATION COMPLETE! Government Workers Now Outnumber Manufacturing Workers by 9,977,000

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(CNSNews.com) – Terence P. Jeffrey reports: The United States lost 9,000 manufacturing jobs in October while gaining 19,000 jobs in government, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Government employment grew from 22,216,000 in September to 22,235,000 in October, according to BLS, while manufacturing jobs dropped from 12,267,000 to 12,258,000.

President Barack Obama speaks at Copper Mountain Solar 1 Facility in Boulder City, Nev.,Wednesday, March, 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The 22,235,000 employed by government in the United States now outnumber the 12,258,000 employed in manufacturing by 9,977,000.

Over the past year—from October 2015 to October 2016—manufacturing employment fell by 53,000, declining from 12,311,000 to 12,258,000. During the same period, government employment climbed 208,000, rising from 22,027,000 to 22,235,000.

The BLS has published seasonally-adjusted month-by-month employment data for both government and manufacturing going back to January 1939. According to this data, manufacturing employees in the United States of America outnumbered government employees every month for more than half a century.

[Read the full story here, at cnsnews.com]

Then, in August 1989, government employees slipped ahead of manufacturing employees for the first time—taking a slim lead of 17,989,000 to 17,964,000.

Since then, government has pulled dramatically ahead of manufacturing as an employer in the United States. Read the rest of this entry »


The FDA’s Cigar Fascism

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Consider this sequence of events.

During the Cold War, the Cuban government becomes communist and aligns with the Soviet Union, and many of that country’s productive citizens flee to the United States where property rights are more secure and government is more constrained. Cuba’s economy predictably fails and is kept afloat for years by foreign aid provided mostly by the Soviets. Meanwhile, Cuban businesses first take root, then flourish in the US, particularly in Miami, including a cigar industry based in Little Havana.

“The FDA’s policies — fascist in the sense that they allow for private ownership but government control — mean that, at the end of the day, the portion of the US cigar industry that escaped Cuba simply traded one repressive regime for another.”

Ironically, many of these cigar manufacturers succeed due to government intervention in the form of the Cuban trade embargo, enforced by the US government. Meanwhile, American demand for Cuban-grown and rolled cigars remains high, and many purchase them in extra-legal markets or on trips abroad — often when “abroad” translates to Mexico or Canada. I once met a man who smoked a Cuban cigar in the 1980s. It was such a profoundly pleasurable experience that he vowed to never smoke another cigar again.

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So it went until the Cuban embargo was lifted by the US government last year and questions arose about whether Miami-based cigar manufacturers would survive competition from los cigarros cubanos. Unfortunately, a threat bigger than competition emerged in the form of new rules for cigar manufacturers announced last week by the Food and Drug Administration.

[Read the full story here, at Mises Wire]

Based on the “duty to protect public health,” the FDA is requiring cigar manufacturers to comply with rules drawn up last year for the electronic cigarette market. These include the requirement of so-called “pre-authorization” applications and fees before being allowed to sell their product. These aren’t one-time tariffs either, as any decision to change tobacco blends in the future — a common practice in a premium cigar market responsive to consumer tastes and preferences — requires FDA permission involving new rounds of applications and fees.

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The costs are enormous and they especially affect the small business, as explained in a recent Miami Herald article:

“I mean I get it — you have to do what Uncle Sam says,” said Sandy Cobas, owner of El Titan, one of the 119 Miami businesses that Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado says depend on hand-rolled cigars. “But how are we going to be able to afford this?”

She isn’t alone, say industry experts like Marvin Shanken, founder, editor and publisher of Cigar Aficionado magazine.

“Miami, and South Florida in general, is the heart of the cigar industry,” Shanken said. “The impact will be most visible there, without a doubt.”

The FDA estimates that small businesses like El Titan, which produces 250,000 to 300,000 cigars per year, will pay $278,000 to $397,000 in application fees and other costs during the initial compliance period. While El Titan will be able to pass some of those fees on to the companies that hire it to make private-label smokes, it will still need to raise prices.

The new rules will have the greatest impact on companies less than a decade old, which will be required to apply for pre-market approval at an average cost of $6,560 per application, according to FDA estimates.

Fourth generation cigar roller, Jose Blanco, who opened Los Cumbres Tabaco in Doral in 2014, figures he will have to submit between 25 and 30 applications, which likely will cost more than $100,000. “For companies starting off in this business, you’re lucky to be breaking even like we are,” Blanco said.

Cigars sold prior to Feb. 15, 2007 — an estimated 60 percent of all cigars sold in the U.S., according to the FDA — are grandfathered in.

Though Tamarac-based Gurkha Cigars was incorporated in 1989 (the brand was first established in 1887), the company estimates it will pay $500,000 in legal costs on top of fees for 800 individual applications.

It’s a lot of money that harms small manufacturers to benefit large ones. In fact, it’s likely the large ones championed the FDA rules to provide them with more market power in a post-embargo world. It also reflects the first rule of government regulation of business, that regulation always causes secondary effects that are sometimes anticipated, and sometimes not. Read the rest of this entry »


Supreme Court Resigns Duties, Tortures English Language to Save Obamacare

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“If only there was some branch of government designed to review legislative actions, thwarting the intentions of Congress if they conflict with the law… oh, wait, that branch does exist…”

 writes: In his 1946 essay, Politics and the English Language, George Orwell observed that “the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” Today is Orwell’s birthday; it’s also the day the Supreme Court released its 6-3 decision in King v. Burwell, which preserves the Affordable Care Act at the expense of plain English.

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“The majority opinion explains away this blatant contradiction by expressing confidence that architects of the law intended something other than what they wrote—the opposite of it, in fact.”

The majority, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, ruled that the provision of the law mandating an “Exchange established by the State” should be interpreted to include an Exchange not established by any state, but instead by an agency of the federal government, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.

[More – In Upholding Obamacare’s Subsidies, Justice Roberts Rewrites the Law—Again]

In his spot-on dissent, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia explains why this is an “impossible possibility”:

Justice Scalia testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington

The Court holds that when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says “Exchange established by the State” it means “Exchange established by the State or the Federal
Government.” That is of course quite absurd, and the Court’s 21 pages of explanation make it no less so.…

[Read the full text here, at Reason.com]

Faced with overwhelming confirmation that “Exchange established by the State” means what it looks like it means, the Court comes up with argument after feeble argument to support its contrary interpretation. None of its tries comes close to establishing the implausible conclusion that Congress used “by the State” to mean “by the State or not by the State.”

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The majority opinion explains away this blatant contradiction by expressing confidence that architects of the law intended something other than what they wrote—the opposite of it, in fact. Intent should trump plain English—even when the two directly oppose each other—writes Roberts, because the Court’s job is to defer to the will of lawmakers, and even contort logic to assist them, “if at all possible”: Read the rest of this entry »