Mark Steyn on government regulation…of milk:

Stand well back, that Holstein’s about to blow.

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You’ll have to read it yourself…

Oh, and I noticed that the USDA is where the Rutland Free Libray is getting money for its renovations. Who knee that the U.S. Department of Agriculture was in the business of renovating city libraries.

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With gasoline prices at a two-year high, President Barack Obama today called for a crackdown on “price gouging” at the pump. Some consumers may feel relief to hear that the White House intends to protect them from supposedly unscrupulous suppliers. But the President’s energy policies are a lot more to blame for the current high prices than any market manipulation. And to the extent his “price gouging” rhetoric persists, the rise in oil prices could worsen.

No one person can “control” gas prices, but the president of the United States certainly has a lot of potential influence, for better or worse, in that department.

The record shows that government price controls have consistently proven to be disastrous. In the 1970s, for example, artificially low prices imposed by the Carter Administration resulted in shortages that caused gas lines a la Eastern Europe.

Quotes are from the Diane Katz at the Heritage Foundation

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Love the headline: Obama Bats Back Criticism of Health Care Effort – Roll Call.  It conjures up images of Ted Williams effortlessly batting over .400 in the 1941 season.

This is the first paragraph of the Roll Call article:

President Barack Obama sought to turn every argument against a health care overhaul on its head Wednesday night, describing his initiative as one that would reduce the deficit, make it more likely people can keep their insurance, promote more choice of insurers, help insurers provide better coverage, and even get the government out of decisions about care.

This should be so easy for the Republicans to dismantle it almost isn’t fair.  Of course, Obama and the Left have done a very nice job of framing the debate so as to make the perceived lack of proposals from the Republicans expose Republican congressmen as being “political” or against things that matter to the average American.

Let’s see…

Reduce the deficit. How could this be possible?  Even for the government to “get in” to the health-care business (as if they weren’t already, i.e. Medicare and Medicaid) it would cost an enormous amount just to set up all of the protocols and plans.  After you’ve set all that up you’ll have to implement the protocols which will rely heavily on manpower that will cost a lot of money.  Monitoring compliance and/or fraud will be a huge expense, too.  There is no way that a government plan could possibly reduce the deficit.

Keep your own insurance. Again, logic dictates that this will not likely be the case for the average American.  Once the government is providing a health insurance plan many companies will end up dumping their own insurance plans and tell their employees to buy the government plan because it will be cheaper for them and allow them to stay in business.  The only people who get to keep their plans are those that can afford it and the members of the U.S. Congress.

Promote choice of insurers. If choice is really that important, then the Democrats should be writing a bill that promotes portability without saddling the treasury with another entitlement program.  If it doesn’t work, only then should we talk about adding a government plan.

Help insurers provide better coverage. How is this possible?  Are they going to mandate better coverage?  If so, then they will definitely chase private insurance companies right out of business.

Get the government out of decisions about care. This is the most laughable part of the whole paragraph.  The government has already meddled so much in the private medical affairs of individuals that it is not funny.  The very fact that government regulates and licenses hospitals and clinics makes them paramount in decisions about care.  I’m not suggesting a deregulation of the health care industry (although I’m not convinced it wouldn’t make things worse), but insurance companies and providers already shell out huge amount of money just to be in compliance with government regulations.  I imagine what Obama will safely say is that he himself will not personally phone in an order for your physician to follow.  Phew.

Of course, what hovers above any discussion of the government being involved in health-care is the fact that the government makes the rules.  How long will private insurance companies last against a competitor who also gets to make up the rules of the game?

Terrorism (a.k.a. The War on Terror or World War IV)

Terrorists are real and so are the people who sponsor them. Fighting them will not be easy and President-Elect Obama has not really given a good indication that he will treat this threat seriously. In fact, I have not heard whether or not Obama has articulated a clear policy, or theory, on how he views the terrorists and our struggle against them. With this lack of vision, the pressure of Washington DC foreign policy realists, and the extremely unreliable public opinion polls, I fear that Obama will be guided by whichever wind is blowing the strongest. If it’s the realists in DC and on college campuses, then we will likely stand down in our current efforts to bring the battle to the terrorists in favor of diplomacy which could have a hugely negative impact in the form of more, and more serious, attacks on our soil. If it’s the public opinion polls that guide him, then the same outcome is likely in the form of an attack on our soil with the added caveat of an ill-planned (maybe even disproportionate) response. Who knows what other factions will have influence on how Obama meets this very real threat to our national security.

I hope that Obama is more in the mold of George W. Bush than Bill Clinton when it comes to foreign policy (specifically as it relates to terrorism). After an uneventful beginning to his presidency, Bush changed his approach to dealing with terrorism. Conversely, Clinton basically abdicated our national security matters to international police investigations while ignoring the broader implications of the terrorist’s objective of destroying America. For more in depth thoughts on the war against terrorists, I’d suggest reading Norman Podhoretz’s, Word War IV and Natan Sharansky’s, The Case for Democracy.

Taxes (or the Economy)

Obama says that he is going to give 95% of us a tax cut. I’m not an economist, but that sounds like we’re being sold a bridge in Brooklyn. He also says he wants to give people the same type of health insurance that Senators and Representatives have. Let’s see, what else? Pay teachers more. Fix the nation’s infrastructure. That’s all I can remember right now, but I’m sure there’s more. How is he going to pay for all of his hopes and dreams in addition to giving 95% of us a tax cut? (Oh and how is he going to fund our struggle against people who want to destroy us?)

Soak the rich. Redistribute wealth. Create a centrally planned economy. Take your pick, but his programs are going to cost the America taxpayer a lot of money and someone has to pay for it. By putting the burden of the exorbitant spending spree on the backs of the so-called rich (anyone making over $250,000 or is it $150,000?) the drive and energy behind most of our economic growth will be dried up. Thanks to the convoluted tax code many of those rich folks will find ways of sheltering their money in order to keep more of it themselves and give less of it to the government. Once they do that, no tax rate will be high enough to make up the lost tax revenue and guess which taxpayer will have to make up the difference because they make up the most significant portion of the population: the middle-class. Are we still going to get that tax cut?

Tyranny (or Big Brother, Big Government)

I know that tyranny seems like too strong a word to use in describing the United States when bona fide tyrants are roaming the earth (Kim Jong Il, Ahmadinejad, Chavez, Castro, Mugabe to name just a few). However, what else would you call a government that wants to control what you eat? Or what you wear? Or what you can drive? The list is long, albeit not all of the things that the government wants to tell you what to do are as exciting as being told what you can or can’t eat.

Shouldn’t I be allowed to determine whether or not I can eat trans fatty acids in my French fries? Shouldn’t I decide whether or not to wear a helmet when I ride a bicycle? Or how many miles per gallon I’m willing to tolerate in my vehicle? These may seem like small things when taken individually, but small steps toward a more intrusive government happen every day in the form of a minor regulation here and a minor regulation there. These steps on their own don’t amount to much, but added up they begin to add girth to a government that has already grown too big for its britches.

First, a regulation, no matter how small, costs money. Whether it’s in the form of enforcement or compliance, these regulations add up and can dramatically affect the bottom line of both private business and government alike. There may be some legitimate cost benefits from enacting some regulations, but it would be best to make regulating a difficult process in order to help ensure that laws are made that will not impede progress. Second, once a regulation becomes a part of the periphery of the culture then law makers are free to start squeezing money out of the regulations in the form of increased fines and worse, they can begin their grand proselytizing about the evils of whatever sin of pursuing happiness is the latest target of their ire. Third, because elected government officials make the laws and regulations, there is little or nothing that an individual or private business can do in defense. Worse, the bureaucrats who surround the politicians in the halls of government have a disproportionate level of influence on how these regulations are crafted (or which ones are even make it to a vote). These same bureaucrats are often the beneficiaries of the regulations that are enacted and they protect their jobs fiercely. And they aren’t accountable to anyone!

I am not a strict libertarian, but I do think it’s important to keep a close eye on the government so that they don’t get too slap happy in their effort to keep us all safe from ourselves. With Democrats in control of both houses of Congress and the White House (and liberals far too prominent in the judicial branch) it is entirely possible that we will see an increase in the creeping regulatory tyranny. You could call it tyranny with a smile.