How much regulation will U.S. citizens tolerate?
Despising bureaucrats is an American tradition. Back in 1773, tossing King George’s tea into Boston Harbor wasn’t just a protest against taxes. It was a statement about how much interference in our daily lives our ancestors would put up with.
In 1794, the first real test of the authority of the federal government came during the Whiskey Rebellion, when Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton tried to fund the national debt by taxing homemade whiskey.
Today, the Obama Administration seems intent on testing whether that same backbone still exists. The list of grievances that Americans hold against their government seems to grow by the half-hour as bureaucrats add new volumes of regulations.
Some of the new federal rules seem preposterous
After all, do we really need bureaucrats telling us that we must switch from incandescent lights to fluorescent? Or that we must maintain a certain Body Mass Index – basically making it against the law to be overweight?
Will Americans put up with government "experts" telling them that it is unhealthy for school children to have a best friend? That it promotes "unhealthy" individuality and keeps kids from adhering to "healthy" social pressures?
Do Americans really want the government to make it illegal to buy or sell raw milk –that has not been pasteurized? Do they back Food & Drug Administration policies that are now forcing small and organic farms to use high-tech equipment that they cannot afford and do not need?
What about reported proposals such as Senator Christopher Dodd’s "Livable Communities Act" that would empty out America’s rural areas, giving government incentives for everybody to leave the low-crime countryside and move to big cities?
And will Americans tolerate threats from Obama Administration bureaucrats that anyone making false or misleading statements about the government can be prosecuted? A letter has been circulated nationwide from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius threatening "zero tolerance" for "misinformation."
And who says that Washington, D.C., has the authority to decide what appliances Americans can have in their kitchen?
"In mid-September, Cathy Zoi, an Assistant Secretary of Energy, said that the U.S. Department of Energy has a ‘mandate’ to issue regulations about what household appliances should be available to Americans in the future," reports author Alan Caruba.
"While speaking at the inaugural meeting of the recently reestablished Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, Zoi pointed to four tactics the Obama administration intended to use to advance the ‘deployment of clean energy.’ The first three were government subsidies, special tax incentives, and low-interest government-backed loans for green energy projects.’
"We’re going to make people save money for themselves," said Zoi. "Among the projects is ‘harvesting/dewatering technology for algal biofuels,’ money devoted to algae as a source of power."
"I have a great idea how to save billions," writes Caruba. Shut down the Department of Energy."
"Corporate leaders are slamming the president over taxes and the uncertain effects of his policies, and the executives’ siege mentality is holding back the economy," according to Michael Brush, writing for MSN Money. "Is fear of President Barack Obama one reason we’re stuck with sluggish economic growth?"
Are U.S. business leaders afraid?
"That’s the message the CEOs of several major companies are sending out. In unusually vitriolic attacks on a sitting president, including references to Communist Russia and Adolf Hitler, CEOs have complained they can’t predict what Obama will do next – and how his new regulations and taxes might hit their companies.
"We don’t know what the latest great idea from Obama will be.
"Therefore, we are hunkering down," says Cypress Semiconductor Chief Executive Officer T.J. Rodgers, echoing public comments over the summer from CEOs at companies such as Intel and Verizon.
"He said that because of Obama, CEOs are focusing on their core businesses and hiring less, to control costs and risks. ‘CEOs are uncertain, so they don’t want to have the liability of adding a lot of employees,’ Rodgers said.
"There’s certainly a lot of uncertainty out there as we approach November’s midterm elections. Next year’s tax rules are in limbo.
"The effects of health care and financial reform have yet to be seen. And then there’s what many perceive as an anti-CEO message in Obama’s rhetoric – aimed mostly at chiefs of big banks and health insurers but also at hunkered-down execs in general."
"Obama uses political rhetoric to demean me and my motives, but the fact is, I am completely happy with my motives and the morality of my decisions," Rodgers said. "My moral responsibility is to protect and grow the investment of shareholders."
Intel CEO Paul Otellini, referring to the Obama administration, said in an August speech to the Technology Policy Institute’s Aspen Forum, "I think this group does not understand what it takes to create jobs."
Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg, in a June speech at the Economic Club of Washington, accused Obama of creating an "increasingly hostile environment for investment and job creation."
‘It’s amateur hour in Washington’
Rodgers said he had "started out happy with Obama because we had broken through the white male barrier" and made "a step forward for equality." But Rodgers added: "I have become deeply disappointed with him. It is amateur hour in Washington. The guy hasn’t got a clue about the economy, how jobs are created, how wealth is created. It reminds me of the Jimmy Carter years, only worse."
Blackstone Group CEO Steven Schwarzman seemed to compare the Obama administration to Hitler by saying in a recent private meeting that Washington’s push to increase taxes on private-equity firms is war, "like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939," according to Newsweek.
"I don’t remember corporate leaders speaking out this vehemently in the past," said investment advisor Gary Shilling. "People in these positions don’t get there unless they know how to keep their mouths shut when they need to."
Shilling speculated that CEOs need a scapegoat for the poor economy and that the administration ‘has mishandled things to the point where it has volunteered itself’ for the job.
"Much more than any time that I have seen in my career, business is concerned about specific policies and ideas coming out of Washington," said Fred Fraenkel, the chairman of the investment policy committee at Beacon Trust and former director of global research at Lehman Brothers.
Meanwhile, is it true the Obama administration has banned incandescent light bulbs?
No more light bulbs?
"Beginning January 1, 2012," writes Caruba, "government rules will make it impossible to purchase a 100-watt incandescent light bulb. After that, in time, all such light bulbs will be phased out leaving Americans with only dim, over-priced, mercury-filled light bulbs. And they will be made overseas, primarily in China."
Congress has banned traditional light bulbs, citing the need to reduce "greenhouse gas emissions" to reduce global warming.
"It’s the same Congress that had already determined how much water your toilet can use to flush," writes Caruba. "It’s the same Congress that determined rules that determine how many miles per gallon your automobile must achieve. It’s the same government that requires ethanol be added to gasoline, thus reducing the mileage a gallon of adulterated gasoline can produce, while also driving up the cost of gasoline as well as of corn, a food product, used to produce ethanol.
"It’s the same Congress that has blessed a Renewable Electricity Standard that requires utilities to use electricity produced by wind and solar power even though both sources also require 24/7 backup by traditional coal-fired, natural gas, or nuclear plants because they cannot be relied upon to generate electricity in a predictable fashion or during periods of peak capacity.
Who decided bureaucrats know more than you or me?
"It’s the same Congress," writes Caruba, "that initiated Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two ‘government entities’ that purchased the sub-prime mortgage loans that banks and mortgage loan firms were required to make to people who clearly could not afford to repay them. The result is the financial crisis that occurred when those ‘bundled’ mortgages turned out to be ‘toxic,’ worthless paper sold to investment firms and banks as assets."
In early September, the Washington Post, published an article, "Light bulb factory closes; End of era for U.S. means more jobs overseas." It reported that "The last major General Electric factory making ordinary incandescent light bulbs in the United States is closing this month. The remaining 200 workers at the plant will lose their jobs.’
"In June," writes Caruba, "the Washington Times reported that the Federal Trade Commission released 91 pages of regulations that will force manufacturers to revise their packaging and make costly compact fluorescent bulbs appear more appealing to consumers."
In what may be the most absurd intrusion yet, a mandate is in the works making it politically incorrect for children to have a best friend.
Who said they can interfere in children’s friendships?
Nationwide, the Department of Education has wreaked havoc on kindergartens throughout America by handing down new rules to government-run Headstart pre-school programs.
Headstart rules require that pre-schools receiving government funding "provide an environment of acceptance that supports and respects gender, culture, language, ethnicity and family composition.
The rules also stipulate that programs must "provide a balanced daily program of child-initiated and adult-directed activities, including individual and small group activities; and planning for routines and transitions so that they occur in a timely, predictable and unrushed manner according to each child’s needs, supporting each child’s learning, using various strategies including experimentation, inquiry, observation, play and exploration."
In a number of states, Headstart programs have interpreted these rules in such a way that structured teaching has been banned. Instead, the three- and four-year-olds are allowed to roam the facility at will, deciding for themselves if and when they wish to visit a station where teaching the alphabet or colors is offered. The teacher sits at the station and instructs the students only when they choose to sit and learn rather than play with toys or climb on playground equipment.
Bureaucrats are ruining Headstart
The result is that kindergarten teachers dread the arrival of Headstart students. The initial mandate that the program was to give low-income and underprivileged pre-schoolers a "head start" helping them to be ready for kindergarten. Instead, Headstart kids think they can roam the kindergarten classroom at will and take part in lessons only when they feel like it.
And now these same "experts" are declaring that teachers and principals should prohibit public school children from having best friends.
For the last decade, the federal government has launched numerous initiatives intended to ban bullying – with questionable effectiveness.
But now, "I think it is kids’ preference to pair up and have that one best friend. As adults – teachers and counselors – we try to encourage them not to do that," says Christine Laycob, speaking to the New York Times about why "best friends" are a bad thing.
"Parents sometimes say Johnny needs that one special friend. We say he doesn’t need a best friend," says Laycob.
"By ‘we’," writes author Mark Steyn in the National Review magazine, "she means the expert opinion of ‘educators.’
"Granted that ‘educators’ seem to have minimal interest in education, and that therefore it would be unreasonable to expect them to regard, say, American students’ under-performance in everything from math to music as a priority, one is still impressed by their ability to conjure hitherto unknown crises to obsess over.
"The tone of the Times piece is faintly creepy – not least in its acceptance of the totalitarian proposition that it’s appropriate for ‘experts’ to re-engineer one of the most building blocks of our humanity: the right to choose our friends.
"We conservatives have been wasting our energy arguing the difference between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome," writes Steyn. "The statists have moved on, and are now demanding equality of basic human relationships, and starting in nursery school.
"Much of the contemporary scene owes its origins to silly little fads among ‘educators’ that seemed too laughable to credit only the day before yesterday.
"The lessons we learn in childhood stay with us. The Battle of Waterloo, they used to say, was won on the playing fields of Eton.
"But in British schools today competitive sports have been all but abolished. It was recently reported that in one children’s soccer league in Ottawa any team that racked up a five-goal lead would be deemed to have lost, and the losing team declared the winners, to spare their feelings."
"In an essay on democracy for the New Criterion," writes Steyn, "Kenneth Minogue began by ‘observing the remarkable fact that, while democracy means a government accountable to the electorate, our rulers now make us accountable to them. Most Western governments hate me smoking, or eating the wrong kind of food, or hunting foxes, or drinking too much.’"
The distribution of our friends does not always correspond, as governments think that it ought, to the cultural diversity of our society. We must face up to the grim fact that the rulers we elect are losing patience with us.’
Whatever happened to limited government?
"What to do?" asks Steyn. "Give me a boy till seven, said the Jesuits, and I will show you the man. Give me a boy till seventh grade, say today’s educators, and we can eliminate the man problem entirely."
"Americans know how to solve their problems through initiative, limited government and hard work, not through the nanny state," says American Spectator editor R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.
"We’ve all heard the comment: ‘I’m from the Government and I’m here to help you,’" writes radio host Derry Brownfield. "I can think of very few instances where the government actually helped me.
"In fact, most of their help has turned into government interference that only hinders an individual from using common sense.
"There is no doubt we all want clean air, clean water and nutritious food; but when government becomes involved we seem to get the exact opposite.
"The FDA wants to control everything we eat and has produced a ‘legal brief’ stating that we have no right to consume or to feed our children any particular food. The brief reads: ‘There is no deeply rooted historical tradition of unfettered access to food of all kinds. To the contrary, society’s long history of food regulation stretches back to the dietary laws of biblical times.
"Modern food safety regulation in the United States has its roots in the early food laws of the American colonies.’ The FDA then sites a Virginia law passed in 1873, saying farmers are not allowed to skim the cream off milk before selling it."
However, writes Brownfield, things have gotten ridiculously out of hand
Bureaucrats don’t care, they just enforce their rules
"I consider John Munsell a friend," writes Brownfield. "He was a guest on my radio program in 2003.
"John ran a small meat processing plant in Montana where he had his problems with government authorities in 2003, when he realized he was purchasing contaminated meat from ConAgra. As soon as John realized the meat he had purchased was contaminated with E. coli, he called the USDA’s Food Safety & Inspection Service.
"Instead of tracing the meat back to the seller, the inspectors found John guilty of having contaminated meat in his possession and took action against him.
"John explained that he had purchased the meat from the large multinational corporation, ConAgra, and it arrived in that condition. The inspector insisted that since the problem was in his cooler, he was the person to be blamed.
"The bureaucrats at FSIS refused to trace the meat back to ConAgra. John stated that FSIS only performs trace-back when there are illnesses. Unless people get sick from consuming the ground beef the FSIS will not trace it back to the original source, even if they have a positive test sample, even if it avoids illness."
"When we study what is really taking place within the bureaucratic agencies of our federal government, the question arises: Do these agencies care?"
"Step by step, no leap by leap, we are being observed, watched, analyzed, sold out and tracked," writes columnist Dr. Laurie Roth. "We all must do our small part in getting back our country and freedom."
Back toward the end of the Vietnam war, Cambodian madman Pol Pot enforced his insane vision that the country of Cambodia would be better off if its cities were emptied of people. Hundreds of thousands of Cambodians were forced at gunpoint to vacate all the country’s urban areas, including the capital, Phnom Penh.
What followed was mass starvation and genocide.
Now, liberals in Congress are debating legislation that would empty America’s rural areas, forcing the population to move to the big cities.
"A social engineering bill to restrict residence in the suburbs and rural areas and force Americans into city centers has passed the United States Senate Banking Committee and is on the fast track to passage in the Senate," reports author Bob Livingston.
"The bill is called the Livable Communities Act and it was introduced by outgoing Senator Christopher Dodd. It seeks to fulfill the United Nation’s plan Agenda 21, adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
"This bill is designed to destroy your community," warns Livingston.
According to the non-profit American Policy Center the bill:
nIs a blueprint for the transformation of our society into total Federal control.
nWill enforce Federal Sustainable Development zoning and control of local communities.
nWill create a massive new "development’ bureaucracy.
nWill drive up the cost of energy to heat and cool your home.
nWill drive up the cost of gasoline as a way to get you out of your car.
nWill force you to spend thousands of dollars on your home in order to comply.
"The idea of these social engineering initiatives," writes Livingston, "is to force people to live in a congested area in high rise buildings with housing on the upper floors and stores on the bottom. The whole area will be linked by mass transit creating the ‘utopian’ communities loved by socialists.
"Obama is – not surprisingly – an advocate of this type of nonsense. And his cabinet is populated by elitists who think they know better than you how you should live."
Such politicians have "turned the California Dream into a nightmare," writes columnist Joel Kotkin.
"California has long been a destination for those seeking a better place to live. For most of its history, the state enacted sensible policies that created one of the wealthiest and most innovative economies in human history.
"California realized the American dream but better, fostering a huge middle class that, for the most part, owned their homes, sent their kids to public schools, and found meaningful work connected to the state’s amazingly diverse, innovative economy.
"Recently, though, the dream has been evaporating.
"What went so wrong? The answer lies in a change in the nature of progressive politics in California.
Just look at how government is ruining the state
During the second half of the twentieth century, the state shifted from an older progressivism, which emphasized infrastructure investment and business growth, to a newer version, which views the private sector much the way the Huns viewed a city – as something to be sacked and plundered.
"The result is two separate California realities: a lucrative one for the wealthy and for government workers, who are largely insulated from economic decline; and a grim one for the private-sector middle and working classes, who are fleeing the state.
"California did an enviable job in traditional approaches to conservation – protecting its coastline, preserving water and air resources, and turning large tracts of land into state parks.
"But California’s environmental movement has become so powerful that it feels free to push its agenda without regard for collateral damage done to the state’s economy and people. With productive industry in decline and the business community in disarray, even the harshest regulatory policies often meet little resistance in Sacramento.
"Business leaders need to get back in the game and remind voters and politicians alike of the truth that they have forgotten: only sustained, broadly based economic growth can restore the state’s promise."
"All nations must evolve," writes Caruba, "but America is moving toward less freedom of choice, more control over the choices that a free market requires. It is rejecting its founding principles and it is doing so based on lies."
And we see the decline of our nation all around us.