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Friday, November 7, 2014
Understanding How Things Work
The adage, “You get what you pay for,” never seems more apropos to me than when politicians pontificate about how “things” should work, meaning the economy, thereby displaying their ignorance of the economic system that has been the engine of America’s success and produced the highest standard of living in the world for over 200 years.
 
Unfortunately, the American people are not getting what we are paying for in our political leaders.
 
What we should be getting is people who understand how the free market system works, that the less it is regulated (restricted) by government, the better it works.
 
However, what we are getting is politicians and political leaders who have no clue about capitalism and believe it is their responsibility to pass legislation that causes the government to intrude on the free market, in effect defining the rules by which it should function.
 
Currently, the lead player in this scenario, of course, is Obama, who has never run anything or held a job, yet seems to believe that he knows better than everyone else how the system should work. The problem is that his notion of “the system” is not the free market but socialism.
 
No government in history has ever created prosperity by managing the economy. The most notable example, at least in the last century was the U.S.S.R., which failed to the point of collapse in about 90 years.
 
But, hope springs eternal. Each succeeding generation seems to believe that they have the answer, that they know how to “run” the economy better than the “free market.”
 
To some extent, this is reflected by the percentage of presidential cabinet members who had any business background and/or experience.
 
Following are the percentages of past presidential cabinet members who had worked in the private business sector prior to their appointment to the cabinet. (The private business sector is a real-life business, not a government job.)
 
Here are the percentages:
26th President (1901-1909): Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt     38%
27th President (1909-1913): William Howard Taft                 40%
28th President (1913-1921): Woodrow Wilson                       52%
29th President (1921-1923): Warren G. Harding                    49%
30th President (1923-1929): Calvin Coolidge                         48%
31st President (1929-1933): Herbert Hoover                          42%
32nd President (1933-1945): Franklin Delano Roosevelt        50%
33rd President (1945-1953): Harry S. Truman                         50%
34th President (1953-1961): Dwight D. Eisenhower              57%
35th President (1961-1963): John F. Kennedy                        30%
36th President (1963-1969): Lyndon B. Johnson                    47%
37th President (1969-1974): Richard M. Nixon                      53%
38th President (1974-1977): Gerald R. Ford                           42%
39th President (1976-1980): Jimmy Carter                              32%
40th President (1981-1989): Ronald W. Reagan                     56%
41st President (1988-1992): George H.W. Bush                     51%
42nd President (1993-2001): William Jefferson Clinton           39%
43rd President (2000-2001): George W. Bush                         55%


Note that during the 100 year period covered by the foregoing list, the lowest percentage of cabinet members who had business experience was 30%, during John F. Kennedy’s presidency, and the highest percentage was 56%, during Ronald Reagan’s term in office.
 
 
© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
Posted at 21:56 PM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)



Friday, November 7, 2014
Pass a Law, Fix the Problem
How many laws do we pass to fix problems, only to find out that they don’t fix anything and often make things worse? Sometimes laws are passed for political purposes, sometimes to bestow some benefit on a particular group or individual, sometimes simply out of ignorance. Whatever the case, the more they pile up, the worse things get.
 
Logic and reason have no effect on those who support many of the actions that are taken by our political leaders. They do it for a reason, albeit often wrong, but the bigger problem is the lack of knowledge of the electorate who support many of these laws.
 
Does anyone ever stop to consider the number of laws that are passed?  
 
In a 2010 article, “Too many crimes – a function of too many laws,” former U.S. Attorney General Edwin W. Meese III makes the case that “America is in the throes of over criminalization. 
 
He supports his assertion by citing a number of cases that are noted in a new book, “One Nation Under Arrest”:
·        A 12-year old girl arrested and handcuffed for eating a single french fry on the Washington subway system.
·        A cancer-ridden grandmother arrested and criminally charged for refusing to trim her hedges the way officials in Palo Alto, CA, mandated.
·        A former high-school science whiz kid sent to prison after initially being arrested by FBI agents clad in SWAT gear for failing to affix a federal sticker to his otherwise legal UPS package.
·        A 67-year-old retired husband and grandfather imprisoned because some of the paperwork for his home-based orchid business did not satisfy an international treaty.
One of the major problems in America today is that there are too many laws and too much regulation. There are a seemingly endless number of examples of legislators who either have no sense or somehow lose it in the exalted halls of government. For instance, Kentucky law mandates that people must bathe once a year.
 
Not to pick on Kentucky, but like most states, they have a number of crazy laws: Throwing eggs at a public speaker is punishable by up to one year in jail; it is illegal to dye or color a baby chick, duckling or rabbit unless six or more are for sale at the same time; or if a horse dies in front of a residence, the owner (of the horse, that is) must remove the dead animal within 12 hours.
 
If it is not done, then it becomes the homeowner’s responsibility. That may have made sense in the 1800s, but it hardly seems necessary today. One city had an ordinance that required the sheriff to shoot dogs whose owners did not pay a local tax on their animals.
 
Consider the number of jurisdictions with boards, councils or commissions that legislate and the number of laws they adopt annually. There are over 3,000 counties in the U.S., ranging in size from 41.6 square miles (Arlington, VA) to 141,398 square miles in the North Slope Borough of Alaska, along with almost 19,500 municipalities, in addition to the 50 states. That adds up to roughly 22,500 entities in addition to the Federal government, all putting laws on the books, presumably to correct problems or to influence or regulate behavior. In California, the legislature adds upwards of 5,000 laws to the state’s code books every year.
 
As Will Rogers said, “Congress met. I was afraid they would.”
 
Obviously, a certain amount of this is necessary. For example, local ordinances for such purposes as regulating traffic, land use, or taxation. Or, advances in technology bring new problems and with them the need for new laws. The rapid development of computers and the Internet has created new opportunities for mischief with them, such as Internet fraud and identity theft. And bio-technology is presenting society with moral and ethical challenges that never would have occurred to earlier generations.
 
However, people’s wants are insatiable, and legislators respond to special interest groups that want to impose their particular need or desire on the rest of society, which results in thousands of laws and regulations.
 
The latest example of excessive regulation was noted in a January 1, 2014 Sacramento Bee article, “California’s new laws: What changes in 2014.”
 
The article lists about 30 new laws or modifications of existing laws that became effective in the new year.
 
Many of them amount to nothing more than housekeeping measures, clarifying or expanding existing laws that are already on the books, such as Immigration, prohibiting employers from punishing or retaliating against workers on the basis of their immigration status, Hydraulic Fracturing for oil drilling, banning lead ammunition because of the health risk to wildlife, Abortion, Pharmacists, Transgender students, Domestic Workers, Prevailing Wage, various gun laws, Paparazzi, Limo Safety, Texting while driving, Food Stamps, Mattress Recycling, Distillery Tastings, and Residential Plumbing.
 
However, notwithstanding the necessity for the laundry list of bills outlined in the article, one in particular got my attention, because it illustrates the absolute foolishness of bureaucrats and legislators, who seem to think they can craft an answer to every problem. This is a new law that requires “cars to stay at least 3 feet away from bicyclists…”
 
 I’m not sure how this will actually work, because my experience is that it’s generally impossible to move three feet away from someone on a bike, even when they are in a lane dedicated to bike riders. In the area where my wife and I live, in order to give a bike rider a three-foot clearance, it is necessary to move into oncoming traffic. I presume this rule will also apply when driving on the highways (freeways), which generally do not have a bike lane, in which case it may become necessary for a driver to pull out in front of fast-moving traffic coming up from behind.
 
I strikes me that this is just another example of “do good” legislation being passed by legislators who all too often seem to be disconnected from reality.
               
It’s also worth noting, I think, that America has more lawyers than the rest of the world combined, and our society is suffering the consequences.” 
 
For example, we can be prosecuted for breaking laws we don’t even know exist. “Ignorance of the law is no excuse” has always been a traditional mantra, but it has been reported that Americans are now subject to over five million laws. How can anyone possibly know and obey them all? And, they keep piling up. Every legislative body, municipal, county, state and Federal, is constantly making new laws, and nothing ever seems to be taken off the books. CNN recently reported, “40,000 new laws take effect in 2014.”
 
So, if ignorance of the law is really no excuse, then we are all charged with specific knowledge of the millions of laws that regulate us. That’s impossible and is undoubtedly one of the reasons why many Americans have become increasingly cynical about the law and justice in this country.
 
And, if five million laws are not enough, there are also hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of rules that are superimposed on top of them – by OSHA, EPA, HUD, EEOC and a host of other
agencies, including everyone’s favorite villain, the Internal Revenue Service.
 
Legal precedent has also added to the burden of excessive control and regulation that are strangling our society. Hundreds of thousands of court cases are litigated to interpret the laws, which comprise entire libraries of additional rules we are expected to abide by in our daily lives. The sheer weight and complexity of all this breeds contempt for the law, evasion and deliberate
law breaking.
 
As Ronald Reagan said, “I have wondered at times about what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the U.S. Congress?”
 
© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
Posted at 21:51 PM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)



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