Sunday, May 29, 2011

Regulation Watch - 05-29-2011

Written ahead of the weekend, so weekend news will be included in next weeks post.

The biggest news this week is that the TSA and Department of Justice managed the bully the Texas legislature into withdrawing its bill to make groping genitalia without probable cause illegal. In related news Rand Paul managed to single handedly delay the extension of the 'Patriot' Act and its surveillance without court orders to the last minute but not past expiration. Does this mean Rand Paul has bigger balls than the entire Texas legislature?

Note that there are dozens of stories of how Obama is going to reduce regulation and streamline agencies. Frankly I think its a big lie and I won't link to those stories here until something good actually comes of it. So far their main accomplishment seems to have been figuring out that spilled milk is not the same as an oil spill.

Following Bill Clinton's lead, White House adds Minister of TRUTH to monitor internet criticism
More on Unfavorable Online Media Czar
Good article on Obama's defiance of the law, misses drilling ban and Obamacare ruling defiance though

Alabama: Cordova tornado victims can't use FEMA trailers because regulations forbid single-wides
ATF: GOP McConnell turns against Rand Paul on exempting gun records from 'Patriot' surveillance
ATF: Unions lied about Obama's gun control ambitions, Obama pledged to do it 'under the radar'
California: NYT tries to put a good face on CA cap&trade ruling
California: Authorities save Californians from the menace of good homemade yogurt
California: Surfers are for the environment, unless it means losing a nice wave
DHS: Because they've done such a bangup job with airport security, Lieberman backs White House proposal for expanded DHS role in cybersecurity
Energy: Rising costs intentional result of government action (Issa report, pdf)
Energy: increased regulatory costs for coal industry
Energy: $737 million loan guarantee to solar energy project
Energy: T. Boone Pickens on rent seeking, then and now. Big Business rent-seekers threat to freedom
EPA: halts industrial boiler rules
FBI: Kill the Un-American Patriot Act
FBI: Rand Paul stalls 'Patriot' Act extension, solo, gets votes on amendments, but act passes
FBI: U.S. Senator hints at massive secret Patriot act surveillance and data collection 
FBI: Patriotism requires we repeal the 'Patriot' Act 
FBI: (video) Rand Paul's excellent speech on Patriot act
FCC: lobbying Congress for a takeover of broadband
FCC: trying to convince us to nationalize broadband, but missing the point
FCC: what a mess. broadcasters, distributors debate retransmission rules
FDA: process hampers medical device innovation
FDA: couple fights FDA over removing Avastin's approval 
Fed: What regulation of currency leads to and what currency collapse looks like - Belarus
France: Sarkozy 'You can't escape' internet regulation
France: Sarkozy calls for internet regulation, internet fights back 
HHS: Obamacare appeal semantics and Hamilton 
IRS: wants small businesses' electronic tax records, quickbooks etc.
Justice: notifies Arizona they can't use execution drug because it was obtained 'illegally'
Labor: businesses not hiring because of regulation uncertainty
Labor: How much did the department spend on its broken iPhone app?
Labor: Conservative group hits dept. with FOIA request over cost of app
NHTSA: to propose a requirement for 'black box' tracking devices on all vehicles
NLRB: Unionization by regulation
NLRB: to workers, drop dead 
NLRB: requires a list of home addresses given to the union when they vote to decertify, what could go wrong?
SEC: Dodd-Frank rules pay whistle-blowers $1 million, what could go wrong? 
SEC: congress exempt from SEC, not illegal to do insider trading, but frowned upon
Texas: (Video) El Paso abolishes food vending trucks, vendors and IJ fight back
Treasury: and IRS propose new regulation to require reporting names of foreign account holders to their governments
TSA: pats down sisters at prom dance
TSA: Fed Bullying halts groping bill
TSA: Touching Texas' Junk (IBD)
TSA: Texans lack testicles
TSA: Napolitano lies, 'very, very, very few' pat downs = 10+ million per year
TSA: patted down child, little old lady, ignored man in arab garb
TSA: deprives us of freedom and places innocent Americans in constant fear
TSA: United States for Travel Freedom Caucus plans to stop TSA abuses
TSA: I guess that's something: House Republicans oppose more airport scanners
USDA: Big Government crushes small business. rabbits, chickens and yogurt

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Texas Caves on Anti-TSA Grope Bill

The Texas legislature was on track to pass a bill challenging the constitutionality of the TSA 'pat-downs', asserting that they violated the 4th Amendment's protection against search without probable cause. The Texas Tribune writes:
House Bill 1937, which was passed by the House earlier this month, would make it a misdemeanor offense for a federal security agent to “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly [touch] the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of the other person, including touching through clothing, or touching the other person in a manner that would be offensive to a reasonable person.”
The Texas House of Representatives passed it by a unanimous voice vote (currently 49 Democrats and 101 Republicans). In the Senate it passed out of committee unanimously. Shortly before the Texas Senate debated the bill, its author, Dan Patrick R-Houston, was visited by two representatives of the TSA. Similarly, the speaker of the House and Lt. Governor (president of the Senate) were sent a letter by U.S. District Attorney John E. Murphy. The message delivered was that all air travel in Texas would be shut down should the bill become law. Despite this, Senator Patrick still thought he had the votes he needed and the bill was brought up for debate. At this point 12 former supporters buckled, buying the argument that the bill contradicted federal law.
Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, who voted for the bill in committee, said he still agreed with Patrick’s intent but could not vote for the bill because it preempts federal law. “The bill makes it a crime for a [federal TSA employee] … to perform a federal screening that he or she is required by federal law to perform.”
A defiant Patrick withdrew the bill. The next day (yesterday) Alex Jones led a small protest against the TSA and spineless senators. Karl Denninger has lambasted the Texas legislators and called for a boycott of Texan products.

I was inspired by the Texas attempt to defend our Constitutional rights and am very disappointed by this latest turn. The U.S. Attorney's argument was that because Congress has empowered the TSA to "take necessary actions to improve domestic air transportation security" and to provide for the screening of passengers, the state of Texas cannot pass a law reaffirming the 4th Amendment rights of its citizens. By this logic, any screening procedure the TSA decides, without expert or legislative review, is necessary to security is ok, no matter how many of our rights it violates. How about strip searches? Cavity searches? Multi-day confiscation of all luggage? How about passenger-by-passenger 1 hour interviews with cross-checking of fellow travelers "stories." If a TSA bureaucrat decides that's what's "necessary", I guess its law and shame on any state legislature for having the temerity to speak up.

The Texas legislature should have stuck to their guns. Its unlikely that the TSA would have shut down air travel, they wouldn't withstand the subsequent outrage. Then the TSA could have asked for an injunction and the whole issue could be decided in the courts, preferably the Supreme Court. That the U.S. Attorneys didn't want this kind of legal clarification, but instead preferred bullying the Texas Senate is unconscionable. Are they not Americans? Are they not angry at the subjecting of 8-year-olds, grandmas and nuns to genital groping? Does our Department of Justice no longer care about Constitutional protections against search and seizure without just cause? I guess its fitting, in an Orwellian sense, that the Department of Justice should be the one, in a pinch, to uphold the INjustice of government agents literally sticking their hands into the underwear of innocent Americans. Let us hope that Texas has some fight left and will regroup.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Regulation Watch - 05-23-2011

The mentality of the uber regulators. Masters and slaves.
(Video) Congress talking again about taking over management of your 401k
(Video) The Donald blocked from eminent domain taking for a casino

Agriculture: Crushing entrepreneurship. Family fined $90k by USDA for selling bunnies
ATF: Feds refuse to help Texas with fire damage, but ok to ignore local laws and set a fire torching 150 acres
California: LOL state needs permission from Coastal Commission to close parks
California: Judge puts carbon market on hold while analysis of alternative plans conducted
California: subsidies to install solar panels on auto dealership
California: Chavez gets a ship, farmworkers get shafted.
California: Coastal Commission remaking Marina del Rey to rid small boats
Calfironia: Coastal Commission to decide how much Navy can use helicopters
CDC: be ready for the zombie hordes!
DHS: both parties pledge to extend (anti-)Patriot act 4 years
DHS: third-highest ranking DHS policeman (who knew?) charged with faking time and misusing databases
DHS: citizen spy program very successful
Energy: T. Boone Pickens, back for more subsidies
Energy: Stossel on fracking
Energy: mandatory $50 lightbulbs coming soon
EPA: Unions realize EPA is a job killer, request more time
EPA: PLF calls attention to EPA's past of vetoing flood-control projects around Mississippi river
EPA: small respite from new rule on industrial emissions
FBI: tea partiers are terrorists, but muslim synagogue bombers are just making mischief
FCC: FCC and DHS have to be drooling over the possibility of tracking your every move
FCC: Verizon (my new hero) suing FCC over being forced to allow competitors coverage on its network
FDA: congress asking FDA to investigate hair treatment, time well spent
FEC: Stephen Colbert's Free Speech Problem
Fed: Overregulation cased the subprime bubble, Dodd-Frank more of the same
Hawaii: Ultralights need more regulation
HHS: shocker, Obamacare implementing insurance price controls (prepare for shortages)
HHS: healthcare rationing in england and here
HHS: Michelle Malkin on Waivermania
HHS: Pelosi cronies inhale waivers
HHS: Nevada third state to get a waiver
HHS: Wielding wavers as weapons
HHS: WOLF: Obamacare waiver corruption must stop
HHS: AARP, another Obamacare supporter, gets a waiver from obeying the provisions of Obamacare
HHS: National Doctors Tea Party, several great talks. Esp. Sally Pipes, Yaron Brooks 
Labor: Why affirmative action should stop
NLRB: 's attack on the secret ballot
SS: Galveston opted out of Social Security when it was legal and they're doing just fine!
SS: Senator calls for investigation of adult playing a baby, he throws tantrum and threatens suicide
TSA: School worried about security handling students inappropriately, so it brings in the TSA?!?
TSA: dissappointed at low interest in school bus threat assessment
TSA: scientists letter to Holdren re scanners

Friday, May 20, 2011

Book Review: The Dirty Dozen by Robert A. Levy and William Mellor

The Dirty Dozen: How Twelve Supreme Court Cases Radically Expanded Government and Eroded Freedom by Robert A. Levy and William Mellor (2008)

In just over 200 pages this book covers many of the most important threats to our freedom and Constitution. After an introduction covering the motivation and structure of the book, it lays out twelve chapters, each a complete story of an individual or corporation who sought to appeal to the Constitution to protect his rights and was denied. The first four chapters cover cases that greatly expanded the power of the government, i.e. unleashed the government from different Constitutional constraints. The last eight cover cases that eroded individual rights.

In Helvering v. Davis (1937) the Supreme Court used the General Welfare clause to rule that the federal government's powers are not limited to those enumerated and that wealth distribution in the form of Social Security is Constitutional. In Wickard v. Filburn (1942) the court used the Interstate Commerce Clause to rule that locally produced goods not intended for interstate sale could be subject to caps (farmer Filburn had planted 23 acres of wheat instead of his government alloted 11).  Chapter 3 describes how the court sanctioned government invalidation of private contracts (a Minnesota moratorium on foreclosures) and discusses the invalidation of inflation protecting gold clauses.  

Whitman v. American Trucking Associations, Inc. (2001) tested the legitimacy of laws being made by agencies that are not the Congress, i.e. the regulatory agencies.  In conflict with the Constitution these agencies pass more than five times the laws (called regulations) that Congress does. Some of these unelected agencies, like the FDA, not only create extra-Congressional laws, but try and sentence offenders. How's that for separation of powers that protects individuals? In Whitman the court ruled for the government on the pretense that Congress hadn't delegated its legislative power, it had only delegated a "certain degree of discretion." As the authors point out, the Federal Register, which records regulations, contained 77,000 pages by mid-2006. That's a lot of discretion.

In each chapter the author discuss the legal and historical background, closely related preceding cases, and the details of the 'dirty dozen' case. Then they cover the decision, its reasoning and dissenting opinions that indicate how the court should have ruled. The chapters are then closed with the implications, usually a deluge of similarly unconstitutional laws that follow and the harmful effects on individuals and the economy.

Chapters 5 through 12 cover the campaign finance reform laws and free speech, gun owner's rights, Japanese internment during World War II, asset forfeiture without due process, eminent domain for private use, regulatory takings, unenumerated rights and equal protection/racial preferences.

Chapter 6, on gun rights is one of the best in the book. Through example after example it builds a powerful case for the importance of the right to bear arms. It starts with contrasting restaurant hold-ups. Anniston, Alabama, December 1991, at a Shoney's restaurant: hold-up men discover Thomas Terry hidden under a table and one pulls a gun on Terry. Terry uses his legal .45 pistol, kills one and critically injures the other. No one else is injured. New York, New York, May 2000: gunmen round up customers at a Wendy's, bind them, gag them, force them into a walk-in refrigerator and then shut them in the head. Five died. Its illegal in New York to carry a weapon. There's also the case of Suzanna Gratia Hupp, who got to watch her father and mother killed by a gunman in Texas because the law prevented her from bringing her gun (150 feet away in her car) into a restaurant that served alcohol. The gunman reloaded five times. Fifteen women and eight men were killed and another nineteen injured. This massacre was topped only in 2007 at Virginia Tech. A bill that would have allowed students and teachers the right to carry firearms was shelved 15 months earlier in the Virginia General Assembly. Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker at the time was sure "this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus." Chapter 6 then goes on to discuss United States v. Miller (1939) in which the court ruled that special registration of firearms was Constitutional. The defendants were not present, nor was their lawyer to argue the case. The court did nothing to appoint other counsel or reschedule. The ruling has been used since to argue that the Constitution doesn't protect individuals right to bear arms, only militia members.

Chapter 11 describes the case in which the court ruled that the unenumerated rights of individuals (like travel, work, property) were deemed less important than the actually enumerated rights. I found this chapter especially interesting as I haven't thought much about the rights that aren't enumerated but which are still described and protected by the ninth amendment.

The only criticism I have for the book is that in the chapter on racial preferences, it does not make the distinction between equal protection in the use of force, i.e. in the application and machinery of law and in voluntary agreements. It does not distinguish between government hiring practices, Jim Crowe laws, and admissions policies at state run schools versus racial preferences at private schools or in cafes. In the former there should be no tolerance for racism. In the later, individuals and businessmen have a right, protected by the Constitution, to contract with whom the would no matter how despicable their tastes.

If you are interested in Constitutional issues and protecting freedom and understanding the ways our Constitution has been undermined, I highly recommend this book. It's wide ranging, well-written, very logical. If you're only interested in particular issues, I still recommend reading individual chapters.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Free Education

I've been listening to the Mike Slater show the last few mornings to discussions of education reform with regard to the latino education gap. For the most part I agree with his point that it doesn't make sense to hire more latino teachers, which is racist, and makes more sense to separate non-English speakers into immersion English classes. Two additional points are worth making. One on the content of reform and one on the method of reform.

First the biggest problem with the American education system today is that it abandoned education decades ago in favor of socialization. The goal of education should be to develop an individual child's reasoning mind. This means in part providing the student with the content of reason, the facts and concepts necessary to reason: historical facts, mathematic concepts, knowledge of reading and writing. It also means teaching the student how to organize and connect this knowledge, how to integrate it and thereby the method of acquiring new knowledge through logical thinking. Leonard Peikoff has an excellent course on education describing this. The central subjects of education should be those essential to understanding the world and functioning as a rational adult: reading, writing, mathematics, history, some basic science especially biology. Instead what we have, thanks to Dewey's primitivism and collectivism, is socialization and numerous fadish anti-rational teaching methods, like whole word reading, whole language, student invented mathematics (aka Chicago method), group projects, community work and environmentalist propaganda (i.e. science inaccessible to students being taught as dogma since it is too complex for them to understand). According to Dewey and his followers, the role of the educator is teach the student to give up his mind and merge with the classroom. They also hold that teaching itself is presumptuous since educators have no more knowledge than their students, they are just 'facilitators' who should let kids attempt to rebuild the knowledge of western civilization on their own, through trial and error and group discussions.

I'm not sure exactly what the most rational approach to teaching English to immigrant children, but I'd bet money that problem is not being approached rationally, because modern educators distrust reason, logic and science.

Second, the entire presumption of the debate is wrong. 'We' do not need to solve the problems of education. The problems of education can be solved by the individuals involved. And that should be the parents and teachers themselves, not bureaucrats and not even the general public in some public discussion. It doesn't take a public discussion including all the 'stakeholders' to solve the problem of energy production, or producing automobiles or making computers. In fact that's exactly the way NOT to solve any problem. The only result of that presumption, that the public has to solve the problem and force that solution on the producers and consumers of education by force of law, is a continual war between pressure groups advocating different approaches and at best a hodge-podge of the least offensive approaches with the hints of the best and dollups of the worst. If on the other hand education were set free, then individual teachers and schools could develop their methods and parents could decide which schools they think are best. The Dewey-ite 'socialization' experiments would lose out to more rational schools and teachers, as has happened in pre-school education which is largely free and dominated by Montessori schools.

Speaking of education gaps, did you know that Maria Montessori's first school was for 'special needs' children? Her rational approach, respecting the needs of the child's conceptual reasoning mind, was so successful that her mentally retarded children were outperforming non-disabled children. Marva Collins has also done wonderful things with inner city kids in Chicago. There are no similar examples in the American public school system, dominated by unions and Dewey educated teachers.

How to free education? Tax credits. This completely removes the power of the state to control or influence education (as ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court). Much better than a voucher system, which still leaves a lot of strings attached to government, though either tax credits or vouchers are light years better than charter schools. Ultimately the education system needs to be completely free and uninfluenced even by tax code. But even with tax credits, schools could innovate free of the corruption of unions and teachers colleges. The best schools, whether they were national chains of large schools, or small schools run by a visionary teachers in their basements, would dominate. It is insanity that our education system is failing and bankrupt in the face of millions of unemployed people and especially recent graduates who would be willing and happy to educate their neighbors children for a tenth of what it costs to educate them in the public system.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Regulation Watch - 05-16-2011

Starting today, I'll be posting my Regulation Watch on Monday mornings.

Bill Clinton advises creation of Ministry of Truth, new agency to correct misinformation and rumors on the internet (more at LCR)
Whitehouse recommends new cybersecurity laws without killswitch
Fascinating. China responds to food safety violations with more freedom, press freedom
U2's The Edge buys off environmentalists with $750,000.
If you want a federal contract, better be nice to Obama
"Better at expanding bureaucracies than manufacturing cars, better at making rules and regulations than producing clothes or oil"
Obama's latest bad idea, price controls on drugs

ATF: need background check and permit to use firecrackers to scare off seagulls
California: Neighbors oppose strawberry farms fumigant use
California: drought over but state controlled water flowing no more freely
California: degraded sidewalk covered with soil and grass qualifies as 'wetland' and requires $92,500 footbridge to protect it
California: CalEPA declares worm poop a 'pesticide', water probably a 'pesticide' too
California: GOP supports redevelopment agencies and eminent domain abuse
California: lifeguards (unionized with firefighters) make as much as $200,000 per year
California: Bill seeks to restore valley water supplies. How about privatizing water in california?
California: If you thought NLRB vs. Boeing was bad. Congresswoman vows to make life 'living hell' for moving a few hours away within the state
DHS: Let the patriot act expire
DHS: Republicans push for patriot act extension
DHS: Bruce Fein on his patriot act testimony
DHS: NAGR letter against patriot act extension
DHS: In Atlas Shrugged all the big decisions were made off the record in bars and restaurants
Energy: American Lung Association joins primitavists, opposes internal combustion engine
Energy: maintains radioactive waste ban until 2022. safest form of energy dying in the U.S.
Energy: Another gov't promise. $25,000, 350 mile per charge electric car reality by 2017
EPA: New regulations will shut down several plants
EPA: clean water act injustices
EPA: Cost to clean up river on $7 a month per chicagoan OR death by a thousand cuts
EPA: regulation cannot control malignant melanoma (S. Fred Singer)
FBI: doesn't want you to know which ISPs are surveilling you because you might switch providers
FCC: Outgoing FCC member joins company regulated by FCC
FCC: to launch disaster alert system for cell phones
FCC: no one can opt out of presidential alerts, speculation that they'll track your location when received
FCC: What's with the chip that'll be in all our cell phones for 'presidental alerts'?
FDA: continues its attacks on off label use of safe drugs
Fed: why no investigations of the government's role in subprime scandal 
Fed: Yaron Brook advocates repeal of dodd-frank
HHS: (Video) Rand Paul shows how a 'right to healthcare' is the enslavement of doctors
HHS: Arguments re Obamacare in florida
Interior: Utah suing Salazar over designation of six million acres as "wild lands" without congressional approval
Interior: Great news! Interior to make decisions on 251 species over next six years.
Interior: If you ask me, let the lizard and grouse go extinct
Justice: Revised legislation empowers U.S. to shut down piracy sites and others that link to them
Justice: UNBELIEVABLE. Justice department after banks again for not making subprime loans in bad neighborhoods. Remember what happened last time, i.e. a massive bubble we're still recovering from?
Justice: back to preventing banks from discriminating against people that can't pay them back 
Justice: wants to require wireless carriers to keep records on users locations and sites visited from smartphones
Justice: Justice freezes death penalties by confiscating execution drug
Labor: minimum wage hurts those it pretends to help
Labor: releases smartphone app to independently track hours and dispute employers numbers
Labor: Obama withdraws nominee who advocated non-citizens voting in U.S. elections
Oregon: considers anti-virtual charter school bill
SEC: former regulators subject of criminal inquiry for protecting Stanford's Ponzi scheme
TSA: Screener charged in distributing child pronography
TSA: It's now easier to enter the US than to leave
TSA: Texas in the process of abolishing TSA gropes as violations of 4th amendment
TSA: responds to Texas bill "Constitution prevents states from regulating the federal government"
TSA: House Republicans oppose more airport scanners
TSA: screeners grope baby -- now we're safe!
TSA: to serve, protect and ... steal
TSA: states with legislation protecting citizens from TSA

Monday, May 9, 2011

Regulation Watch - 05-08-2011

Posted a day late.

Main theme this week was the rising tensions between states and the federal government: over the 'wild lands' designation making large swaths of the western states off-limits to recreation and business, withholding disaster relief from Texas, delays in lease approvals, and the TSA scan and grope.


(Video) Licensed to Death: How the Government Prevents You from Earning an Honest Living - PJTV
Best and worst states for business according to 500 CEOs. Texas best, California worst

ATF: gun sting is scaring people out of the gun shows
ATF: top level DOJ officials were aware of gunrunning operation
ATF: Did Obama know about gunrunning operation?
Arizona: GOP governor Brewer vetos bill that would allow buying insurance across state lines
California: California's secret government, the Redevelopment Agencies. Eminent Domain abuse
California: pressure group warfare in the carpool lane, Prius to be evicted
California: SF's law requiring cell phone radiation labels put on hold
California: favorite SoCal fishing spots to be closed down by years end
Chile: privatizes retirement, signs free trade agreements, GDP growth 15%
Energy: GE's Immelt claims to give up cap-and-trade lobbying 
Energy: seeks fracking guidelines
FCC: From the horses mouth, Genachowski wants 'net neutrality' because existing law kicks in only after 'damage is done', has he heard of due process and the 4th amendment?
FDA: new rules give more power to block unsafe food, prepare for new invented scares
DHS: Mozilla fights DHS over domains seized without due process by MPAA, RIAA
HHS: (Audio) AAPS Director Jane Orient advocates replacing medicare bureaucracy immediately with individual health savings accounts. Good listen.
HHS: contra the HHS, Healthcare is not a right
Interior: Energy producers sue BLM, Interior over unlawful delays in lease issuance
Interior: States fighting back on 'wild lands' designation landgrab. Utah, Alaska file suit 
Interior: Utah goes to court over 'wild lands'
IRS: made 7.1 billion disclosures of tax return information to federal and state agencies
Justice: Seriously? DOJ questioning NCAA for antitrust violations. When gov't starts picking winners and losers in sports, watch Tea Party membership soar!
Labor: Yuma doughnut shop owner indicted for failing to pay over time and the ever elastic "making false statements"
Michigan: senate approves limiting state regulations to be no more onerous than federal
NLRB: The unions in collusion with NLRB turn a deeper shade of red
NLRB: Nurses union threatens strike against steelworkers union
NLRB: Why legislate when you can regulate?
NLRB: voids employees decertification of union over employer handbook (good links)
Texas: Obama uses arbitrary and unconstitutional powers to punish Texas in wake of disasters 
Texas: Dept of Labor withholding other federal funds from Texas. When will Texans be exempt from paying federal taxes? 
Transportation: Obama looking for ways to tax based on mileage and track your movements
Transportation: The difference between regulated and (mostly) unregulated air travel
TSA: picking out the cute girls
TSA: double pat downs in Corpus Christi
TSA: can you hear the next click in the ratchet? TSA says double pat downs are appropriate 
TSA: Texas bill would make invasive pat-downs a felony
TSA: in case you didn't realize, the war on a method (terrorism) as opposed to an enemy will never end

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Nature of Government Regulation

Regulation pretends to improve our lives by forbidding, taxing and monitoring activities among individuals who are capable of making mistakes, falling victim to accidents and being dishonest. This is supposed to be managed by bureaucrats who are also capable of making mistakes and being dishonest yet incapable of preventing accidents. Giving a gun to human bureaucrat does not change the nature of life or the fallibility of humans.

Furthermore in an unregulated market the self interest of the actors incentivizes producers to make good, safe, innovative products and consumers to buy good, safe products.

A regulated market, on the other hand, promotes conformity to regulations on the part of the producers. It promotes ignorance on the part of consumers whose interests are supposedly protected by regulators. And the regulators? Their interest is not that the products are good, safe or innovative, but that their bosses, politicians, can get re-elected and that no disaster happens that they can't blame on someone else.

Am I missing something here? How does putting an armed bureaucrat between yourself and the person you want to do business with improve your life?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Regulation Watch - 05-01-2011

The news that Osama Bin Laden is dead is the good news of the day. Hopefully it has the ramifications to be the good news of the year or decade.

In regulatory news the FDA's year long sting operation against a dairy farmer who was selling unpasteurized milk to willing customers about sums it up. Here's a farmer offering a product he thinks is good, to a customer who also thinks it is good and is highly desirous of it. And in comes the Feds, not just to stop the deal, but to secretly monitor the farmer over the course of a year in order to bust him. "Hah! Caught you red handed! Selling milk the way it was sold for thousands of years to customers who wanted it that way! You ought to be ashamed!" The presumptuousness of the nanny state regulators just blows the mind. When will freedom reign again?

My second favorite from the week was the Interior's Ken Salazar telling the pro-environmentalist Washingtonians that he only regulates with "local support", while in the same week is more news of how he's giving the shaft to states that like humans to be able to use public lands. See Utah's suit vs. the feds over the "wild lands" designation that threatens to prohibit human use of federal lands.

Tea Party targets big businesses that support big government
Don't reform regulation, abolish it
The nanny state kills the lemonade stand. Teaching children no one can be trusted to make their own decisions.
Walter Williams' Race and Economics promises to obliterate the idea that regulations help minorities
California: At least they're talking about it. Bill to kill Air Resources Board rejected in Assembly
California: Medical marijuana advocates push back against regulations in San Diego. (Coastal Commission bizarrely involved.)
CFPB: All the GOP really wants to do is make regulation more 'efficient'. Capito (R-WVa) promises to make CFPB more accountable by implementing panel instead of a director. Because that's working so well with the NLRB....
DHS: trying to create more 'public-private' alliances, for cyber security. watch for more camel noses
Education: Indiana passes sweeping school choice bill
Education: a disturbing new threat to freedom in education. unions working to organize charter schools
Energy: Because businessmen are just too stupid to realize the precariousness of rare earths, DOE announces $30 million in grants for rare earth free 'green' technologies
EPA: proposes to treat rain 'where it lands'. Is the EPA declaring war on the water cycle?  
EPA: suspends 79 surface mining permits in the name of 'clean water'
EPA: from the pages of Atlas Shrugged. EPA chief's education paid for by Shell Oil
EPA: blocks oil drilling in Alaska, didn't take into account boat fumes effect on village 70 miles away
EPA: more on oil drilling shutdown
FCC: ignores law while blindly increasing regulation
FCC: opens AT&T/T-Mobile merger to public comment. Does it make the FCC more or less accountable?
FDA: to regulate food supplements more closely. writer assures us it won't be too onerous. anyone notice how well the drug industry has been doing under the FDA's thumb?
FDA: about to clamp down on genetic testing, last chance to comment to the FDA 
FDA: year long sting operation to punish farmers selling raw milk to satisfied customers
FDA: contact regarding unpasteurized milk sting operation
Fed: (video) Fight of the Century: Keynes vs. Hayek Round Two
Fed: (video) John Allison on the financial crisis
Fish&Wildlife: Gray Wolf delisted, environmentalists angered 
Fish&Wildlife: three inch lizard used to make you pay more for gas
Fish&Wildlife: sagebrush lizard protection to threaten oil and gas industryHHS: don't replace Obamacare with Gingrichcare
HHS: unlmiited Obamacare implementation slush fund discovered (section 1311(a))
HHS: when the government becomes a customer, it threatens liberties in other ways
Interior: Utah sues over Salazar's 3310 "wild lands" order, complains the dept sought no input from locals
Interior: Protection of San Juan Islands. Salazar "will act only with strong [local] support". Interviewer doesn't laugh. Maybe he hasn't heard of wild lands regulation.
NHTSA: Finally a Government Motors recall. Faulty gas gauges. 
NLRB: attempts to obfuscate its attack on Boeing's right to move plant to South Carolina 
NLRB: 8 states attorney generals sign letter declaring Boeing complaint unconstitutional
NLRB: will sue Arizona, South Dakota over secret ballot amendments
NLRB: South Dakota's Sen. Thune and Rep Noem blast NLRB's decision to sue state
NLRB: Laughable. Teamsters, likely after contributing to the demise of company, hope for new sucker, i.e. 'white knight' to feed the beast
NLRB: Communism is back in vogue in the labor movement. was it ever gone?
North Dakota: passes law declaring Obamacare unconstitutional
SEC: How regulations empower witch hunts and scape goating. The example of Bill Ackman
SEC: Does this administration implement any regulations w/o immediately granting exemptions?
TSA: stupidity. forces gun carrying officer to relinquish knife
TSA: judge prefers to kick anti-TSA case into Appeals where no discovery is possible
TSA: Naked body scanners becoming primary screen in some airports
TSA: More train station TSA operations
TSA: Pregnant teacher deemed threat by TSA, traumatized