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Archive for the ‘regulation’ Category

Random Connections

Posted by Dan Draney on March 22, 2012

We can’t look at the news without seeing examples of What’s Wrong with the World Today. Face Palm Example 1, entitled “FDA Accepts Public Comments on Emergency Shortages Data Collection System” reads in part:

Many medical devices are essential products to the patients who use them. If the supply of these devices were interrupted—in the case of a natural disaster such as a hurricane or earth quake, for example—lives would be at stake. To prevent such scenarios from becoming reality, FDA created the Emergency Medical Device Shortages Program Survey. Developed after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the survey is intended to allow FDA to collect data on domestic inventory, manufacturing capabilities, distribution plans, and raw material constraints for medical devices that would be in high demand or vulnerable to shortages if a disaster or emergency would strike or certain regulatory actions were taken.

via FDA Accepts Public Comments on Emergency Shortages Data Collection System | MDDI Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry News Products and Suppliers.

Because in a crisis, obviously we could all rest easier knowing that a massive, slow-moving, inflexible federal bureaucracy is ready to take total control of all aspects of the supply chain for everything important.

The only better way to assure that shortages will occur would be to establish price controls to prevent “gouging.” Gouging occurs when anyone pays what something in short supply is actually worth. Don’t worry, though, price controls will be the natural, first response of the FDA.

Closing question: What do you suppose they mean by “if … certain regulatory actions were taken” in that quote?

Meanwhile, over at The Nation, Jeff Madrick provides Example 2, as he wonders, “Can Americans Trust Government Again?

Contrary to what we hear from Republicans, America did not lose its way in the past few years. It lost its way a generation ago when it abandoned its faith in government.

Conventional wisdom has it that come November the 2012 presidential election will be determined by the state of the economy. Actually, the real battle will be over a much older fundamental ideological issue in American politics: what role government should play in shaping our future. This special issue of The Nation is dedicated to bringing the debate about government front and center as the presidential race heats up.

Because in his view, it’s not that the government consistently fails the basic tests of competency in practically everything it attempts. It’s not that appetite for new government programs, regulations, and rules is boundless. The problem is that people growing disgusted with the overreach and looking at the results have lost faith. If we just give the government more control over every private decision, we’ll reach Utopia. You Gotta Believe!

Nonetheless we wish them well in bringing this issue to the forefront of the presidential race. I sincerely hope these two competing visions are a major part of the debate, because they are the root of our political disagreements.

Posted in Economics, regulation | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Obama’s Anti-Democratic MO

Posted by Dan Draney on March 17, 2010

I’m not a big fan of Americans for Prosperity. Like some other groups, they seem to want to muscle their way to the front of the TEA Party parade so they can claim to be leading it. They got this one right, though, with this diagram via ObamaChart.Com showing how regularly the administration goes around Congress to get what it can’t get by normal processes.

Whether it’s CapnTrade, the Healthcare Takeover, regulating the internet, or the Orwellian-named “Employee Free Choice Act,” Obama is more than willing to impose through the regulatory bureaucracy that which he can’t get through Congress. The ability of these regulatory agencies to write new law, enforce it, and adjudicate cases all within the Executive Branch has always held the potential for tyranny. President Obama is not the kind of guy to let that potential go untapped.

Posted in healthcare, Obama, regulation | Leave a Comment »

When $3.7 Billion Dollars Is Not A Lot of Money. No, Really!

Posted by Ryne McClaren on February 23, 2010

DrewM at the delightfully tacky Ace of Spades blog details the semi-annual MSM “ZOMG, we spend so much money on political campaigns!” news season.

Drew’s post highlights a Center for Responsive Politics post that says:

With Democrats battling to keep control of both chambers of Congress and Republicans eager to make gains, the money race is fast underway for 2010’s federal midterm elections.

By the time that every dollar is spent and every check is cashed, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics estimates the cost of the Nov. 2 contests will be more than $3.7 billion.

$3.7 billion dollars is, quite frankly, chump change in this era of Obama/SEIU/Soros/ACORN monkey business, considering what’s at stake in the 2010 midterms: Massive Government vs. Even More Massive Government.

The post at AoS is full of illustrations as to how $3.7B isn’t a lot in the era of Hope ‘n Change and blowout sports contracts.  Below, Drew presents us with the takeaway quote that’s worth repeating:

If you really want to see less money spent on politics, shrink the size and influence of government.

While that would be a novel approach, one that would make your humble author’s heart swell with gladness… well, I forgot what I was going to say.

Imagine if we lived in some Byzantine era, one in which every vote cast didn’t influence the selling price and production cost of, well, everything. The mind practically balks at the consideration.

By the time that Barack Obama and the Chicago Machine roll into 2012, $3.7 billion probably won’t even keep a mid-sized Florida bank afloat.  So what we need is perspective, people!

Posted in general nuttiness, Obama, regulation | 1 Comment »

None Dare Call Them Golf Carts

Posted by Ryne McClaren on February 22, 2010

LeRoy Louden of Ellsworth (proudly representing my district) has named his priority bill: LB1004.

Nebraskans would be able to drive their golf cars down residential city streets, just like the old folks do in Florida and California, under a bill that carries priority designation.

Golf cars and other slow-moving vehicles would be allowed on streets with speed limits of 35 mph or less and could cross other higher speed roads, under a bill (LB1004), named by Sen. LeRoy Louden of Ellsworth as his priority bill.

That’s golf cars, not carts.

If you’re like me, you were confused at this point.  “Golf car? Wha?”

I’m so very glad you asked, because this is the important part.

And there is a difference between, said Joe Masek, president of the Masek Golf Car Co. in Gering.

A golf cart is that “little two-wheeled thing that you drag around behind you when you are un-American and walk the course,” he told senators on the Legislature’s Transportation and Telecommunications Committee on Monday.

The Legislature is looking at rules for golf cars, which “have a steering wheel and you drive,” Masek said.

Ok.  See?  I told you this was very important.  (And I’m not even going to touch his “un-American” comment).

But now let’s leave the study of motorized golf car lingo alone and get to the wacky.

Under the bill, only licensed drivers could operate a slow-moving vehicle, and owners would have to carry liability insurance.

The bill covers golf cars, which can go about 10 to 16 mph, and slow-moving vehicles, which under federal law can go 20 to 25 mph and must have seat belts, windshields and turn signals.

Around three dozen states allow these very slow moving vehicles on city streets, according to supporters.

Because they can’t be driven very fast, these vehicles are safe, they said.

The law would help a lot of elderly people in small towns who don’t want to or shouldn’t drive, Louden said.

Problem #1: You possess neither the eyesight nor the reflexes to operate one of those high speed cars that are all the rage.

Problem #2: You still possesses a valid drivers license.

Problem #3: Driving fast is unsafe; driving slow in and around fast traffic is much safer.

Solution: Golf cars.

I’m always dumbfounded why we believe that taking a slow moving vehicle and granting it access to the fast lane is a solution for anything at all, but there you go.  This might work if all of us were required to bump around town in our golf cars, but it’s absurd to think that you’re safer moving slow when the roadways are occupied by… texting teen drivers.

The golf car salesman (obviously) thinks this is a stroke of genius.

Village, towns and college campuses could used modified golf carts rather than pickup trucks to move light loads around if it were legal to drive on the streets, Masek said.

Don’t tell Masek, but lots of people are probably already doing these things anyway, and the Legislature hasn’t even said it’s ok yet. But perhaps once all of this is tied up, he can send out some brochures or something.

Ultimately, so long as these vehicles are properly insured (like I am, for when I run over them) and operated by people who are licensed and sane, I have no problem with the bill itself.  The only problem that I have is with swaddling this baby up in phony “public safety” clothes.

The text of this bill is far too long to read, and it could be condensed to its simplest form: We want to drive something besides cars, trucks, and motorcycles on the roads and streets of Nebraska.

Posted in general nuttiness, Nebraska, regulation, socialism | 2 Comments »

Obama Economic Debris

Posted by Dan Draney on November 4, 2008

Some Pittsburg plumbers describe exactly what will happen to their businesses and employees if Obama’s tax plans are enacted.

Flush go the plumbers: “By RALPH R. REILAND
I INTERVIEWED two plumbing-company owners in Pittsburgh recently about Barack Obama’s economic proposals for small businesses. One has 15 workers and 12 trucks, the other 52 and 34 trucks. It’s Joe the Plumber, writ large.

Both had the same reaction to Obama’s proposed new taxes and mandates. To not have their bottom lines reduced by government fiat, both said they’d be forced to lay off employees.”

They go into detail on exactly how much each regulatory change and tax will increase costs, and how that translates into corresponding layoffs. Anyone who has ever run a business, or even part of one, will immediately appreciate that personnel costs are the biggest chunk of the budget. Well, not every small business will have layoffs; some will just close. Peer into the future offered by TheOne.

Posted in Joe the Plumber, regulation, socialism, tax rates | Leave a Comment »

Who Should We Trust on Economics?

Posted by Dan Draney on October 26, 2008

If John McCain loses this election, chances are the chief reason will be the concerns we all have about the economy and the current financial crisis. Arguably, McCain’s instincts to return to Washington to work on the “emergency” bailout bill were noble. They’re certainly in tune with his overall perspective on every issue: Country First. However, Obama’s decision to stay as far as possible from the negotiations paid off. The press and the rest of the Democrats falsely, but successfully, laid the blame for the crisis on Pres. Bush and the markets. Obama and McCain were neck-and-neck when the crisis broke, but Obama opened and held a lead as events developed.

As much as everyone is fed up with the Bush Administration, let’s consider which party and which presidential candidate is better equipped to deal with the ongoing economic problems we face. There are essentially two ways of looking at society and the economy: from an individualistic standpoint or a collectivist one. Remarking on the Joe the Plumber phenomenon, Jonah Goldberg writes on National Review Online:

“Who knows what it will do for McCain in the end, but the Joe the Plumber phenomenon is real. At the rally, supporters carried handmade signs reading “Phil the Bricklayer” and “Rose the Teacher.” Wurzelbacher symbolizes an optimistic, individualistic vision of America sorely lacking — until recently — in McCain’s rhetoric.

Barack Obama, in contrast, has offered the most rhetorically eloquent defense of collectivism since Franklin D. Roosevelt. In his biographical video at the Democratic convention, he proclaimed that in America, “one person’s struggle is all of our struggles.” In his acceptance speech, he artfully replaced the idea of the American dream with the century-old progressive nostrum of “America’s promise.”

But the two visions are in opposition: the former individualistic, the latter collectivist. We each have our own idea of the American dream. Joe the Plumber’s is to own a small plumbing company; yours might be something else entirely. In America, that’s fine, because the pursuit of happiness is an individual, not a collective, right.”

The two parties embody these competing visions of economic policies, although imperfectly. The Republican ideals are those of individual effort, risk taking, and the freedom to win rewards or suffer failure. This is the view of the individual in control of his/her own destiny and responsible for what he/she makes of opportunities. The Democrat view is that most people are not able to fend for themselves, and it is the responsibility of society to take care of them through government actions. The individualist view leads to a desire to keep taxes down and the sphere of government actions limited. The collectivist view leads to a desire to add new government programs, expand existing ones, and seek an ever higher share of the “national wealth” to promote “fairness.”

There certainly are exceptions to the party breakdown on this point. John McCain has hardly been a staunch supporter of limited government and the individual in economic policies. It’s impossible to argue that George W. Bush has been keeping the size and role of government in check. There probably are some Democrats who support minimizing the government’s interference in markets and letting people keep what they earn, but I am unable to come up with any examples of prominent figures in the Democrat party today.

The collectivist view calls for government to “create jobs.” The individualist view sees that real jobs only come from private enterprise. The visible jobs “created” by government spending are more than matched by the less visible jobs lost or not created in the private sector.

The ultimate outcomes of these two competing visions are easy to see, if we look. Low taxes and economic freedom are always associated with growth, jobs, flexible adaptation to changes, and rising standards of living. High taxes and extensive government regulation of economic activities are always associated with slow/no growth, misallocations of resources, high unemployment, and stagnation. Taken to its limits (i.e. Marxism), the collectivist view destroys the private sector and even leads to complete breakdown of society and famine. These results are consistent, wherever they are tried: the stagnation of European socialism; the growth of tax-cutting European states; the perpetual economic failures of communist governments; and the improvements even there when markets are allowed to work.

The American economy is still the envy of the world, but that is not our birthright. It is the result of our sustained commitment to economic freedom and individualism. That system is threatened today. As a result of the bailout much of the banking system is effectively nationalized at this point. It is imperative that these companies be returned to private hands as soon as practical. Otherwise the banking system will become just another political honey pot, used to reward favored groups. Meanwhile, the main causes of the crisis, the quasi-government/quasi-private Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not dead, and the political forces that created them are still in place. We need to drive stakes through the hearts of these companies now to make sure they are never allowed to re-awaken and repeat the activities that brought us to the brink of financial ruin.

Frankly, I don’t know if we can trust John McCain to make the right economic decisions going forward. However, it is completely clear that Barack Obama and potentially large Democrat majorities in the House and Senate are sure to make the wrong decisions for our economic future. We can at least hope that McCain will counter some bad policies.

Obama’s history shows a consistent desire to ally and align himself with far left people and groups. His proposed “tax cuts” are nothing but income transfer plans, welfare checks to those who don’t work paid for with confiscatory taxes on those who do. He, like many Democrats, speak as though all private income rightfully belongs to the government. His appetite for massive, new government programs to solve all society’s ills is insatiable: national healthcare; new alternative energy schemes; new payments to the UN; a new Dept. of Peace and Non-Violence; and more. He has shown hostility toward free trade in talking of “renegotiating” NAFTA and opposing the free trade agreement with Columbia. It’s widely agreed that the Great Depression was precipitated in part by the protectionism of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act.

Free market capitalism is not just the most efficient mechanism for organizing a society and generating wealth. It is also the most moral, because if you want something from someone else you must offer something of value in return. Obama’s rhetoric is full of class warfare clichés and denunciations of “trickledown economics.” He is set to sweep into office promising only “change” with a crisis to justify whatever he defines that change to be, and a huge partisan majority to enact his visions. Based on what he tells us of his plans and what we can guess he is not telling us, this would be extremely bad.

Posted in capitalism, regulation, socialism | Leave a Comment »

Root Cause of the Financial Crisis

Posted by Dan Draney on September 29, 2008

This relatively short video is right on the money in describing what has caused the destabilization of the financial system. The problems didn’t develop overnight, and, as usual, government policies based on Good Intentions led to unintended consequences. The information content of the video is quite “dense,” so frequent use of the pause button is suggested.

Posted in capitalism, regulation | Leave a Comment »

Some Evidence This May Really Be Necessary

Posted by Dan Draney on September 25, 2008

We found it well nigh impossible to support the original Paulson “plan” for solving the current financial crisis. Giving one person the authority to handout $700 billion without oversight or even objective criteria for spending it is hardly worthy of being called a plan. It seems more likely to make a terrible situation even worse. However, there is definitely still a major crisis just below the surface, as evidenced by this article in todays’ Financial Times:

Bail-out fears hit credit markets: “Amid uncertainty about the plan’s prospects, US money market funds controlling thousands of billions of dollars in assets led a stampede to safety, buying short-term government debt, selling commercial paper and withdrawing funds from the interbank market. As a result, the rates that banks charge each other soared, while yields on Treasury bills plunged.”

It was some money market funds “breaking the buck” that got Paulson and Congress panicked into this bill, and this is what causes that. Normally, money market funds are super-safe mutual funds that buy only short term debt from high quality companies (and/or government paper). They maintain their share prices at $1/share, so the feel is “just like” a bank account. Last week was, I believe, the first time ever that any money market fund had a share price drop below a dollar. If money market funds, just about the lowest risk investment in existence, could become unsafe, widespread, catastrophic panic is at hand.

Let’s hope our government can pass a bill and run a policy that will pull us away from the abyss. Based on the failure to understand (or at least failure to admit) the root causes of the current crisis, we’re concerned.

Posted in regulation | Leave a Comment »

The Problem with Liberals

Posted by Dan Draney on September 20, 2008

Fred Thompson’s speech at the Republican National Convention was somewhat overshadowed by the blockbusters Sarah Palin and Rudy Guliani delivered, but it was excellent in its own right. Our favorite part was this one:

“We need a president who understands that you don’t make citizens prosperous by making Washington richer, and you don’t lift an economic downturn by imposing one of the largest tax increases in American history.

Now our opponents tell you not to worry about their tax increases.

They tell you they are not going to tax your family.

No, they’re just going to tax ‘businesses’! So unless you buy something from a ‘business’, like groceries or clothes or gasoline … or unless you get a paycheck from a big or a small ‘business’, don’t worry … it’s not going to affect you.

They say they are not going to take any water out of your side of the bucket, just the ‘other’ side of the bucket! That’s their idea of tax reform.”

Liberals, socialists and communists (but I repeat myself) just don’t get this fundamental aspect of reality. The private economy, that is businesses large and small, is the goose that is laying these golden eggs they are so keen to redistribute. Government itself does not create any jobs, at least no real ones that aren’t canceled out by job losses from the effects of taxation or borrowing.

The US now has one of the highest tax burdens on business of all the industrialized countries. The results are obvious, if one is willing to look and think: fewer US jobs and higher prices. Businesses don’t pay taxes, only people do. Businesses only pass along their costs from the taxes through higher prices, by employing fewer workers, and/or they go out of business.

Socialists/liberals like to make a big deal about their “compassion” and concern for The Little Guy, but their true agenda is all about punishing success. Envy of The Rich is what really motivates them. The Poor are really just a stick for liberals to use against The Rich.

Joe Biden’s miniscule charitable contributions are a recent case in point. Sen. Biden, the self-proclaimed “Joe Lunchbucket” of the Senate, averaged $369 per year in contributions in the 10 yrs of tax returns he recently released (average income: $245,000). It’s a safe bet that many conservative Nebraskans of much more modest means than Biden exceed his 10 yr contribution total every year. Apparently raising taxes is not only patriotic; it’s also an act of charity.

Posted in capitalism, regulation, tax rates | Leave a Comment »

Our Friend the Government

Posted by Dan Draney on April 13, 2008

Accompanied by cheers from those who think you can never have enough government regulation of industry, let alone too much, the FAA issued a major smackdown to American Airlines this week. There was a familiar drumbeat in the media: another Evil Corporation shoving public safety aside in pursuit of Dirty Profits. [Of course, big media companies aren’t like that; they’re the Good Guys.] Stranded passengers were seething, furious at American.

If you haven’t been paying close attention, you may have missed what all the furor was about. What critical danger required 250,000 people to be massively inconvenienced? It was all about 1/4 inch of extra separation in 2 wires: Best Route to Airline Safety::By Steve Chapman: “The agency said the wires have to be an inch apart, rather than the inch and a quarter American believed was sufficient. Executive Vice President Dan Garton said diplomatically that the FAA action suggests ‘a focus on extraordinarily strict adherence to specifics’ that was not present in the past.

The FAA was embarrassed by the Southwest episode, which drew charges of dereliction from Capitol Hill, and it reacted with an uncharacteristic display of toughness on an old directive.

As The Washington Post reported, industry officials said that in the past, ‘the agency would probably have allowed the carrier to make the fixes over a period of days or weeks. They noted that the 2006 directive on the MD-80 wiring gave airlines 18 months to comply. That means that regulators, while concerned about the wiring, didn’t believe that making the changes was a pressing safety matter.’

But all of a sudden it became one, and the result was some 250,000 stranded travelers. The mass inconvenience would be justified if it meant saving even one or two lives. But unnoticed in the furor is that during all the time these carriers were doing something supposedly dangerous, it didn’t cause any accidents. The carriers’ definition of ‘safe’ seems to have been vindicated.”

Of course, Garton and American had better be “diplomatic,” since it has just been vividly demonstrated that the FAA can run them out of business in days on a whim. When a regulatory agency is in full CYA mode, you’d better not piss them off any further by standing up for yourself and your customers. So 250,000 people had to miss flights, meetings, vacations, and homecomings and spend extra nights in hotels or airports, just so that the FAA can prove its “toughness” to grandstanding politicians.

In the end, this safety tempest was in an even smaller teapot, because only a few of the grounded planes were actually found to to have wiring outside the allowed distance, if that even matters.

UPDATE: It was not 250,000 inconvenienced passengers; it was 500,000. We apologize for the error.

You might also ask yourself, how pursuit of profits would lead rational managers to disregard safety. Unsafe airlines don’t draw any passengers and quickly go broke.

Posted in air travel, regulation | Leave a Comment »

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