The Regulatory Gray Goo Nightmare
Paul Bedard reports: The new implementation of EPA rules on heavy trucks has boosted the 10-year regulatory burden on America past $1 trillion, 75 percent of which have been imposed by the Obama administration.
That amounts to a one-time charge of $3,080 per person, or an annual cost of $540, according to a new analysis from American Action Forum.
“In other words, each year every person, regardless of age, in the nation is responsible for paying roughly $540 in regulatory costs. These burdens might take the form of higher prices, fewer jobs, or reduced wages,” said AAF’s Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy at the watchdog group.
The staggering amount is likely to surge even higher as President Obama scrambles to lock in several environmental regulations before leaving office. He has already broken records for new regulations and added red tape this year and still has 50 days in office.
Incoming President-elect Trump has promised to kill two current regulations for every new one he adds.
The new high in regulatory costs, said Batkins, came after new fuel standards for trucks were implemented. Read the rest of this entry »
Federalism is supposed to undergird America’s system of handling disasters, particularly natural disasters. State, local, and private organizations should play the dominant role. Today, however, growing federal intervention is undermining the role of private institutions and the states in handling disasters.
In a new paper, Cato’s Director of Tax Policy Studies, Chris Edwards looks at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA)’s response to major disasters, and argues that policymakers should reverse course and begin cutting FEMA.
In The Federal Emergency Management Agency: Floods, Failures, and Federalism, Edwards argues that Congress should cut FEMA’s multi-billion dollar budget to end the agency’s long-running record of disorganized and wasteful spending. Edwards determines the agency’s large and growing budget consists mainly of counterproductive and inefficient aid programs that should be eliminated. Instead, he argues that state and local governments, and the private sector, should fund disaster preparedness and relief.
“Ultimately,” says Edwards, “the agency should be closed down by ending aid programs for disaster preparedness and relief and privatizing flood insurance.”
FEMA’s performance in disaster response is historically plagued by poor decision-making, wasteful spending, and excessive bureaucracy. FEMA spends roughly $2.5 billion a year on grants to state and local governments for disaster preparedness but these funds are often wasted on low-value activities. Cities have used preparedness grants to buy hovercrafts, underwater robots, and other fancy equipment that are rarely used. Read the rest of this entry »
Will Saletan writes: To believe that the US government planned or deliberately allowed the 9/11 attacks, you’d have to posit that President Bush intentionally sacrificed 3,000 Americans. To believe that explosives, not planes, brought down the buildings, you’d have to imagine an operation large enough to plant the devices without anyone getting caught.
To insist that the truth remains hidden, you’d have to assume that everyone who has reviewed the attacks and the events leading up to them – the CIA, the Justice Department, the Federal Aviation Administration, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, scientific organisations, peer-reviewed journals, news organisations, the airlines, and local law enforcement agencies in three states – was incompetent, deceived or part of the cover-up.
And yet, as Slate’s Jeremy Stahl points out, millions of Americans hold these beliefs. In a Zogby poll taken six years ago, only 64 per cent of US adults agreed that the attacks “caught US intelligence and military forces off guard”. More than 30 per cent chose a different conclusion: that “certain elements in the US government knew the attacks were coming but consciously let them proceed for various political, military, and economic motives”, or that these government elements “actively planned or assisted some aspects of the attacks”.
How can this be? How can so many people, in the name of scepticism, promote so many absurdities?
The answer is that people who suspect conspiracies aren’t really sceptics. Like the rest of us, they’re selective doubters. They favour a world view, which they uncritically defend. But their worldview isn’t about God, values, freedom, or equality. It’s about the omnipotence of elites.
Katrina or Sandy? Late warnings, confused and inadequate responses, FEMA foul-ups and suffering refugees
Is the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy turning into Katrina-on-the-Hudson? Pretty much, and that tells us some things about Sandy, and Katrina, and the press.
One parallel: A late evacuation order. Even before the storm struck, weatherblogger Brendan Loy — famous for calling for early evacuation of New Orleans before Katrina struck — criticizing Mayor Bloomberg for not ordering early or extensive enough evacuations in New York, and for making the “ignorant” statement that Sandy wouldn’t be as bad as a hurricane.
What Bloomberg said was, “Although we’re expecting a large surge of water, it is not expected to be a tropical storm or hurricane-type surge. With this storm, we’ll likely see a slow pileup of water rather than a sudden surge…So it will be less dangerous.” Ignorant at the time, this turned out to be dangerously wrong when Sandy struck and the sea surged.
After Sandy struck, some areas did worse than others, and FEMA — as with Katrina — got bad press. Manhattan was hit hard, but the outer boroughssuffered more. Staten Island residents say they wereforgotten by relief efforts and one press report called the island “a giant mud puddle of dead dreams.” Adding insult to injury, when another nor’easter approached the area FEMA closed its Staten Island office “due to weather.” Time called it “the island that New York City forgot.” Rudy Giuliani called FEMA’s performance “as bad as Katrina.”
Meanwhile, in New Jersey, refugees suffer in bitterly cold tent cities, while officials try to keep criticism quiet: “As Brian Sotelo tells it, when it became clear that the residents were less than enamored with their new accommodations last Wednesday night and were letting the outside world know about it, officials tried to stop them from taking pictures, turned off the WiFi and said they couldn’t charge their smart phones because there wasn’t enough power,” Bill Boman writes in the Asbury Park Press.
Then there are the gas shortages. These are primarily the result of storm damage. But they’ve been made worse by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s effort — joined by New York Attorney General Eric Scheiderman — to crack down on “price gouging.” This politics hurts victims. It’s elementary economics that holding prices down depresses supply. If you could sell gasoline for $15 a gallon, lots of people would load pickup trucks with gas cans and drive to the storm area, alleviating shortages. (And at that price, people wouldn’t buy more than they needed.) If doing that risks arrest, they won’t. Political posturing over “gouging” leads to gas lines, further economic disruption and possibly lost lives.
So: late warnings, confused and inadequate responses, FEMA foul-ups and suffering refugees. In this regard, Sandy is looking a lot like Katrina on the Hudson. Well, things go wrong in disasters. That’s why they’re called disasters. But there is one difference.
Under Katrina, the national press credulously reported all sorts of horror stories: rapes, children with slit throats, even cannibalism. These stories were pretty much all false. Worse, as Lou Dolinar cataloged later, the press also ignored many very real stories of heroism and competence. We haven’t seen such one-sided coverage of Sandy, where the press coverage of problems, though somewhat muted before the election, hasn’t been marked by absurd rumors or ham-handed efforts to push a particular narrative.
That, I suspect, is because Sandy happened in an area that reporters know. Media folks found it easy to believe stories about New Orleans that they wouldn’t believe about their own area. New Orleans is full of black people and southerners, two groups underrepresented in the national media. Manhattan, on the other hand, is familiar turf. Count on the press to give its own milieu a fairer shake.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds is professor of law at the University of Tennessee. He blogs at InstaPundit.com.
- 11-10-12 Midland Beach, New Dorp Beach, Staten Island – Post Sandy/ Post Athena (quotidianhudsonriver.com)
- All Hands Fire Equipment Announces Hurricane Sandy Assistance, Volunteer and Donation Resources (prweb.com)
- Disturbing Update from Staten Island & Queens (2012thebigpicture.wordpress.com)
- All NYC FEMA Centers Closed Due To Weather (sweetness-light.com)
- Sandy’s Wrath Stirs Painful Katrina Memories (houston.cbslocal.com)