Posted in America, Politics, tagged 2012 Presidential Election, America, Budget Deficit, Budget-Cutting, Bureaucracy, Cutting The Federal Debt, Federal Debt, Government Regulation, Politics, President Obama, Secretary of Business on October 30, 2012 |
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President Obama wants to be seen as friendly to business. He’s recently touted the idea of creating a “Secretary of Business” — a new, Cabinet-level position that would “consolidate” different federal agencies that deal with business and trade issues and create “one-stop shopping” for regulatory oversight.
This one proposal, I think, reflects President Obama’s deeply held view of the world — and why I must conclude, regrettably, that he will never truly grapple with our soaring budget deficits and federal debt, which I believe are the two most crucial problems facing our country.
In the President’s view, if business is struggling, we need to create a new government position to address the problem and shuffle existing agencies in a bureaucratic reorganization to try to “streamline” regulations. His reflexive solution to all issues is new government positions, new government agencies, and new government initiatives. If he needs to burnish his credentials with the business world, he thinks the proper response to to create a new government regime that shows that he cares.
President Obama has been our President for four years. He’s seen our economy flounder, witnessed the loss of huge numbers of jobs and the departure of millions of disappointed job-seekers from the job market, watched our deficit and debt skyrocket, and heard complaints about excessive regulatory burdens, crony capitalism, and taxes stifling business investment and growth. The fact that he nevertheless believes that he would aid business by creating a “Secretary of Business” who would help businessmen navigate through the thicket of federal regulations, and assist companies as they seek federal loans and grants and other assistance, speaks volumes about his fundamental mindset. He’s not going to change if he’s elected to a second term.
If, like me, you believe that we need to eliminate Cabinet-level positions and federal agencies, not create them, if you believe that we need to reduce federal regulations, not hire new federal employees to assist overwhelmed businessmen in dealing with those regulations, if you believe that we need to cut spending, not maximize opportunities for people to get more federal loans and aid, how can you vote to re-elect President Obama?
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Posted in America, Food, Growing Up, tagged America, Bake Sales, Federal Government, Food, Government Regulation, Growing Up, Healthy Eating, School on May 5, 2012 |
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When I was in school, the bake sale was a fundraising staple. Whether it was for band uniforms, field trips, or a new suit for the school mascot, kids and parents turned on their ovens, got out their mixing bowls, and cooked the goodies that brought in the nickels, dimes, and quarters of which fund drives were made.
Now bake sales are becoming an endangered species. In the Montgomery County, Maryland school district, bake sales are barred. It’s just part of a growing national trend. Why? Because we’ve got lots of fat kids in school these days, and school administrators and food services kingpins think cupcakes, cookies, cakes, and pies are unhealthy. As a result, kids can’t sell “non-nutritious” food in schools anymore. Of course, as the article points out, what’s nutritious, anyway? Pop-Tarts, which are allowed, or home-baked carrot cake, which isn’t?
Even more ridiculous, the federal government will soon weigh in on this topic (pun intended). Uncle Sam will be publishing its “national school nutrition standards for food sold outside cafeterias.” Just what we need! More federal employees getting taxpayer-funded salaries to advise us about things that really should be left to parents. No doubt there are other federal employees to police compliance, and still other federal employees to administer grant programs to award money to school districts for programs to encourage healthy eating, and state and local employees who will write grant proposals and administer the federally funded efforts — all to combat the lure of the humble brownie and kids who can’t say no.
C’mon, people! Have we really reached the point where our schools are outlawing bake sales, and the federal government is giving us advice on what our kids should be eating? Is there any facet of our daily lives that is safe from the heavy hand of taxpayer-funded government regulators?
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Posted in America, tagged America, Child Endangerment, Current Events, Government Regulation, New Jersey, News, Patricia Krentcil, Tanning, Tanning Parlors on May 3, 2012 |
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When should people intervene to stop the potentially destructive behavior of another? A New Jersey situation raises that delicate question — on two levels.
The story involves a mother, Patricia Krentcil, who was arrested and charged with second-degree child endangerment. Police claim that she took her fair-skinned, red-haired five-year-old daughter to a tanning parlor, exposed her to a tanning bed, and gave the girl a sunburn as a result. Krentcil denies the charge and says the child got the sunburn playing outside on a warm day. She says she brings her daughter with her to the tanning parlor, but the girl waits nearby while only Krentcil gets into the tanning bed. She suspects that a teacher overheard her five-year-old say that she went to the tanning parlor and reached the wrong conclusion.
In my view, it’s hard to justify the state arresting and charging a mother with child endangerment under such circumstances, which apparently involves just one incident, no pattern of behavior, and a condition — a child’s sunburn — that has an entirely plausible, innocent explanation.
But look at the picture of Ms. Krentcil. She admits to excessive tanning, and judging from the grotesque, leathery appearance of her skin, perhaps she even has an addiction to it. How can the tanning parlor, to say nothing of her husband and her family, continue to allow her to expose herself to UV rays under such circumstances? Shouldn’t tanning parlor attendants, like bartenders, have an obligation to cut people off when they’ve had enough?
Businesses often complain about “unnecessary” government regulations, but businesses can be as responsible for regulatory overload as overzealous bureaucrats. If New Jersey tanning parlors are fine with taking money from misguided folks and then allowing them to tan, tan, tan until they look like an old shoe at the back of the closet, the tanning parlors shouldn’t be heard to complain when the state decides it needs to step in.
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Posted in Food, Humor, Science, tagged California, Coke, Food, Government Regulation, Humor, Pepsi, Public Health, Science on March 9, 2012 |
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California is at it again. It has determined that because the caramel coloring used in Coke and Pepsi includes a substance that a study has found causes cancer in mice, the soft drinks need to include a cancer warning label. Not surprisingly, Coke and Pepsi have decided instead to change their recipes — and because it would be more costly to just change the recipe for soda sold in California, the recipes will be changed for all Coke and Pepsi products sold in the U.S.
What’s that, you say? You haven’t noticed that the soft drink-guzzling Americans you see on the street, who have been swilling Coke and Pepsi on a daily basis for decades, have turned into tumorous monstrosities? That’s because the study on which California’s determination is based deals with tumors in mice, not people. What’s more, the Food and Drug Administration states that a human would need to drink more than a thousand cans of Coke and Pepsi a day to equal the dose administered to the mice in the study. Even the most slothful, couch-bound, Coke-addicted video game geek couldn’t approach such levels.
This latest action by California is another example of our regulatory state run amok. Studies, no doubt funded in part by tax dollars, test substances on rodents at ludicrous exposure levels and find increased incidence of cancer, which is not surprising because gross overexposure to just about anything — including water — can be harmful. Then, “consumer advocacy groups” use the study results to start the drumbeat to ban the substance, advancing the dubious argument that because absurd exposure levels are associated with increased cancer incidence in mice, any exposure at any level increases the risk of cancer in humans. Then, nanny states like California issue edicts like the one directed to Coke and Pepsi and manufacturers have to change what they are doing, thereby increasing costs and messing with products that Americans have used for years without any problem.
At some point, I hope, people will wake up to the sham nature of such “public health” findings and demand that states like California reserve their intrusive regulations for those rare cases that raise real public health issues — ones that don’t assume consumers quaff 1,000 cans of Coke a day. Until then, hands off our Coke!
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Posted in America, College, Humor, sports, tagged America, Ann Arbor, College, Government Regulation, Humor, porch couches, sports, University of Michigan on October 13, 2010 |
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Breaking news: the Ann Arbor, Michigan City Council has finally — finally! — acted to ban porch couches.
Thank God! Resolute action on this crucial issue is long overdue. For years, Americans in countless college towns have had to live with the threat of beer-soaked couches serving as the breeding grounds for new forms of bacteria and potential pestilence, of diligent students being overcome by noxious fumes emanating from the mildewed orange artificial fibers on exposed and threadbare sofa armrests, and of the traffic hazards posed by chunks of styrofoam pulled from the burst sides of cheap cushions rolling through the city like sagebrush tumbling through the dusty streets of Laredo. Now we can only hope that local government officials in college towns will turn to other weighty matters, like cracking down on the appearance of troubling garden gnomes and the sale of cheap foreign-made Che Guevara t-shirts that shrink five sizes after just one washing.
Of course, you would expect that far-sighted public servants in a town like Ann Arbor would take the lead on the pressing topic of outdoor davenport regulation. The only weird thing is that one of the big safety concerns with college porch couches is that excited students might set the furniture ablaze after a big home team sports win. Why would Ann Arbor council members have any concerns on that score?
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Posted in America, Family, The Economy, tagged America, Bank Failures, Banks, economy, Family, FDIC, Federal Government, Government Regulation, Great Depression, It's A Wonderful Life on November 14, 2009 |
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Yesterday the FDIC announced the failure of three more banks, bringing the total number of bank failures this year to 123. The 123 failures this year compare to 25 failures last year and three failures in 2007; there have been more bank failures this year than in any year since 1992. The cost to the FDIC fund for the failures this year has exceeded $28 billion, and is one of the reasons the FDIC is looking to banks to prepay fees to help cover bank failure costs over the next few years.
The FDIC website has lots of information about the bank failures, including a list of all the institutions that failed this year and a guide for depositors who wake up to find that their bank has failed. If you review the list of bank failures, you will note that they occur in week-long intervals. That is because the FDIC typically announces bank failures on a Friday, after determining whether a healthy bank will assume some or all of the assets and liabilities of the failed institution. The weekend then allows the FDIC to sort things out, so that commerce can proceed and accurate information can be made available to all affected parties the following Monday. This weekend no doubt will see hectic activity at the offices of all three failed banks.
Conservatives often complain about government regulation, but I think the FDIC, its role, and the calming effect of federal insurance of bank deposits should be regarded as an inspired example of the salutary role federal regulations can play under the right circumstances. Messy bank failures are, for the most part, handled quickly and discreetly. As the story about funding linked above indicates, the regulated banks that benefit from the FDIC’s guarantees pay fees to defray the costs of the regulatory regime to the government. And, the reality of federal support and insurance has had a calming influence on depositors that has avoided the panicky runs on banks that were seen during the Great Depression (and memorably depicted in It’s A Wonderful Life). Without such insurance and depositor confidence, how would consumers react to alarming news stories about a dramatic spike in bank failures throughout the nation?
Of course, the fact that banks are failing says something negative about our economy, but it mostly says something negative about the bankers who ran the banks. The traditional stereotype of the conservative, cautious, boring banker has long since been overtaken by extraordinarily aggressive practices by banks in their residential and commercial lending areas, in their issuance of credit cards and other forms of consumer credit, and in their general business operations, growth plans, and mergers.
Grampa Neal, who epitomized the traditional conservative model of a hard-headed banker who wanted collateral and protection before he made a loan, would no doubt cringe in horror at the lax practices of modern banks. If the current crisis causes banks to return, even slightly, to more conservative lending practices that reject hyper-risky loans, that would be a good thing.
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