Sunday, August 26, 2012

Observations From the Back Row


For August 24, 2012 from the Competitive Enterprise Institute

The latest goings-on in the world of regulation: Friends-of-CEI Susan Dudley and Jerry Brito are authors of the new second edition of their book Regulation: A Primer. I finished it yesterday, and highly recommend it to anyone interested in the topic. The book covers the different types of regulation, the rationales for regulation, and most importantly for would-be reformers, the regulatory process. You can download an unpriced PDF copy at the link North Haven, Connecticut doesn’t allow livestock to live on properties smaller than 2 acres. That’s why one overzealous zoning official wants the Lidsky family to give up their pet rabbit. Reason’s Mike Riggs with the 5 dumbest drug laws in America. In Iceland, parents must pick their child’s name from a government-approved list. One condition is that another Icelander must have had the same name. You can view the list here. An Arizona woman was told to stop handing out bottled water on a 112-degree day because she didn’t have a permit. The woman is thinking of suing. Chattanooga does not like pedicabs. Eleven pages of new regulations cap their number at six, and institute strict equipment and licensing requirements. From the news story: “When asked what he’d tell another entrepreneur considering starting a business in Chattanooga, Thoreson replied, “Stay the hell away.”  In the UK, you must have a liquor license to sell alcohol. One clever entrepreneur is giving it away for free in his “furniture store,” encouraging tipplers to browse his wares and buy £2.75 beer mats. By giving beer away, he isn’t technically selling any alcohol, so he argues that he doesn’t need a permit. Angry officials had no choice but to cede the point, but will likely amend the law.

 “Thinking of renting or selling a home or apartment?” asks the Environmental Protection Agency. “Make sure you disclose its lead-based paint history. Mr. Wolfe Landau did not and it cost him a $20,000 fine.”   Landau is one of the many landlords and realtors fined by the EPA for failing to provide an “EPA-approved” pamphlet to tenants seeking to rent or buy a house built before 1978.    And for the EPA, the non-compliance business is booming.  Juan Hernandez of Bridgeport, Conn., faces seven “Level 1” violations for failing to provide seven tenants with a copy of the “Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home” pamphlet, which was mandated by the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992……The EPA told that under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) the agency has the authority to “inspect, subpoena documents, require testimony and bring civil administrative actions in target housing (housing, schools and daycares built before 1978).”

 “Government Regulation Slowing Energy Jobs and Economic Growth“With unemployment in the United States at 8.3%, job growth is something which should be encouraged. However, it would seem that the government is only interested in jobs that support their agenda. In the field of oil and gas, for example, the government's misguided "policies are" preventing the creation of 64,805 new jobs and $15 billion in economic growth.”

By Steve Lopez
As I begin this column, it is Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 22. I have been alive 20,873 days, if my math is correct, and I hope to add to the tally. But the knees I was born with will not be joining me for the rest of the trip.  The clock ticks. The surgeon scrubs.  An editor tells me this is a good thing. After a string of columns on end-of-life issues, I'll have another way to write about the senior experience, he says…..Whatever the cause, I'm stiff, I limp, I hurt, and I have tried one remedy after another for nearly two years.

Switching my workout routine. Cortisone. Viscosupplementation injections. Acupuncture.  Each of those seemed to help for a while, and then didn't. Now, when I struggle up from a chair and hobble along, my wife says my legs are bowed, and I walk like a gorilla……Dr. Oakes told me about a recent forecast that, by the year 2030, there will not be enough joint replacement surgeons to meet the demand. In 25 years, the number of people whose activity is limited by arthritis is expected to grow by 40%, to 67 million adults…..

Reality is often stranger than fiction.  A former Justice Department lawyer, who publishes at PJ Tatler, has obtained documents from the Justice Department detailing efforts to recruit attorneys and staff . . . who have “psychiatric disabilities” or “severe intellectual disabilities.” On May 31, 2012, Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez issued a directive to affirmatively recruit people with these “targeted disabilities.”…. As “Hube,” a schoolteacher, notes at Colossus of Rhodey, “Considering some of the [bizarre] decisions to come out of the DOJ these past few years, I’d say they have quite of few of these folks already.”  (Maybe he was thinking about how the Justice Department has foolishly attacked banks for using traditional, prudent lending criteria, and how it has threatened schools with lawsuits for discouraging use of bad English, or for seeking to discipline minority students who repeatedly disrupt class and thus contribute to the minority achievement gap.

Over six frightening months, a deadly germ untreatable by most antibiotics spread in the nation's leading research hospital. Pretty soon, a patient a week was catching the bug. Scientists at the National Institutes of Health locked down patients, cleaned with bleach, even ripped out plumbing — and still the germ persisted.  By the end, 18 people harbored the dangerous germ, and six died of bloodstream infections from it. Another five made it through the outbreak only to die from the diseases that brought them to NIH's world-famous campus in the first place.  It took gene detectives teasing apart the bacteria's DNA to solve the germ's wily spread, a CSI-like saga with lessons for hospitals everywhere as they struggle to contain the growing threat of superbugs.

A Texas leader is warning of what he calls a ‘civil war' and possible invasion of United Nations troops if President Barack Obama is re-elected.  Lubbock County Judge Tom Head is convinced that Mr. Obama winning a second term would lead to a revolt by the American people and he's is pushing a tax increase for the district attorney's office and the Lubbock County Sheriff's Office. He says the money is needed to "beef up" it's resources in case President Obama wins the November election.  In the event of civil unrest Judge Head said he's concerned the President would hand over sovereignty of the

Andrew Buncombe joins Mumbai's hardy army of 44 pest controllers with the task of exterminating the city’s 88 million rats -  There is something of a swagger about Vilas Ubhare when he sets about killing a rat. His stick comes down fast, the rat is dispatched and then in a fluid, unbroken motion Mr Ubhare hooks his toe under the rodent’s tail, flips the corpse into the air and catches it neatly in a sack. It is like watching a footballer perform tricks in the park. Mr Ubhare is among a 44-strong team that represents the frontline in the battle against an estimated 88m rats besieging India’s largest metropolis. Every night he and his colleagues endure filthy conditions and the risk of disease to kill rats with nothing more than a metal-tipped stick and a torch. Should they fail to meet their quota of 30 rodents by the time the sun comes up, they have 24 hours to make up the shortfall or lose a day’s pay……Yet some activists want to stop the rat killers. Earlier this summer, the Animal Welfare Board of India, a statutory body that advises the government, wrote to the BMC asking them to stop clubbing the rats and instead catch them and euthanise them humanely.

 It's not hard to see why people seek mentors at all stages of their career (think greater earning power and more professional success). But a lot depends on the mentee. Fast Company found out how to maximize your time with a mentor.   Over the course of about 30 years, Alice Korngold, the CEO of Korngold Consulting, has mentored a lot of individuals, from students to corporate executives. One interaction stands out--and not in a good way.

 The phrase “the so-called tolerant Left” has been used so many times that it is almost hackneyed.  The Left hasn’t been tolerant for years. And in episode after episode of instances that I thought I would never see in the United States, it is increasingly becoming not just passé’ to adhere to traditional values, but illegal and in some cases downright dangerous.  Christians take note: depending on your locale, you may be in violation of the law if you do something crazy and that is contrary to the new values of 21st Century America. And by “crazy” I mean stand by the values of your faith….Take for example the case of Elane Photography v. Willock which is slated to be heard by the New Mexico Supreme Court. Bear in mind throughout this story that New Mexico, for now does not recognize same sex unions or civil marriages……Because of her faith Elaine Huguenin declined the job. The Huguenin’s did not try to prevent the civil ceremony, nor did they enlist others to do so and they did not organize any anti-gay demonstrations or publish any literature relating to the same..... it is not supposed to be a crime for a business such as Elane Photography not to take a job.

China Confronts Mounting Piles of Unsold Goods
“The severity of China's inventory overhang has been carefully masked by the blocking or adjusting of economic data by the Chinese government, all part of an effort to prop up confidence in the economy among business managers and investors.”

My Take - The Chinese Economic Tiger has always been a myth in my view.  They took advantage of good times and ignored any agreements they signed if at some point they didn't like the outcome or if they could get an inappropriate leg up on the rest of the world; and no one took them to the wood shed for it. 

However, no matter how much their economic system has loosened they are still in love with the idea of central planning.  Their central planning insights on housing and cars are back firing.  Instead of stabilizing the economy, these schemes are central to their troubles.  Then when things start to go sour it exposes the weakness of their economy and makes things worse.  I expect to see further deterioration of the Chinese economy as a result.  Their ability to produce goods (and in my opinion poorly produced goods far too often) at extermely low prices will eventually change.  Why?  Because that is what always happens. 

At this point they just want the machines to keep running and don't seem to care what they are turning out.  That will come back to haunt them, especially since they don’t have a population that can buy all they are producing.  They are building cities no one lives in, and they are spending vast amounts on expanding their military, including building an air craft carrier.   Why?  They can keep people working, they can expand their presence, they continue to intimidate their neighbors; all in hopes of keeping an expanding economy.  This must be expensive and there has been talk that the banking system may be in trouble as a result; but no one can say for sure because the central planners hide the true figures.

Worse yet, the rest of the world is now concerned about their own economies because of the crash here in America of the housing market, which caused the worldwide economic downturn; also caused by “central planning” promoted originally by Jimmy Carter by way of the Community Reinvestment Act.  True, the money people became corrupt in their dealings, but if it wasn’t for CRA the incentive wouldn’t have been there to develop their corrupt schemes that no one really understood. 

Would they become corrupt in some other way?  Who knows, but that is what government is for.  The market place can properly regulate what will work because the market place is where people choose to buy or not buy.  The government is supposed to get involved only when a crime has been committed, in other words to regulate criminal behavior, not to regulate market policy because people can do that themselves. 

Either buy or not.       

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