Bureaucracy

Thoughts on Liberty on the Fifth of July

Featured image As we often do, we spent the 4th of July with our relatives in South Dakota. Independence Day is a good time to be in South Dakota, as the spirit of liberty shines a little brighter there than in some other precincts. This is manifested, in a small way, in the lavish fireworks displays that South Dakotans mount–not just towns, but individuals. People are not trusted with such dangerous explosives »

Prying My Beer from My Cold, Frothy Mug. . .

Featured image Jimmy Carter deserves credit for deregulating the airlines and trucking, but by far his most significant deregulatory effort was . . . craft beer, as we noted here in this video last year (sort of). But now in the Age of Obama, the dadgum guvmint regulators are back suppressing craft beer brewing once again: [T]he costs of complying with excessive regulations keep many aspiring brewers from starting businesses. They also »

Confirmed: The EPA Is Full of You-Know-What

Featured image So, what are those wacky folks at the EPA up to these days?  Writing regulations 38 times longer than the Bible?  Playing “Keeping Up with the IRS” in destroying emails that Congress has requested?  Worried about new forms of solid waste? If you guessed the last one, you’d be right.  More right than you might imagine.  Turns out EPA employees have been . . . pooping in EPA hallways.  Now, »

The Worst Monopolist: Uncle Sam

Featured image Concentrations of wealth and power are what keep liberals awake at night, but just once I’d like to hear a liberal notice, even glancingly, that the biggest unchecked concentration of wealth and power is the government.  Except the government doesn’t directly create much wealth itself (sell off federal assets—go ahead, make my day—and see how little of the total national debt it would actually retire), and increasingly it grabs power »

The Problem of the Administrative State, in One Paragraph

Featured image Scott’s mention below of the teachings of Publius in The Federalist about how our modern administrative state tramples all over the separation of powers has seldom been explained better in recent times than in this classic paragraph below from Boston University law professor Gary Lawson, in his 1994 Harvard Law Review article “The Rise and Rise of the Administrative State.”  Savor this with a nice snifter of whiskey: The [Federal Trade] »

Spindle Time, Mostly on Economics

Featured image The stock market sold off hard today, supposedly because of economic turmoil and devaluations in developing countries.  Perhaps this is so, though I usually discount the snap analysis in the media about what drives the daily moves of the overall market, as opposed to individual sectors where industry slumps or disruptions (housing and banking anyone?) are more comprehensible.  I wonder whether the market may be sliding because of the downgrades »

Mad As Hell Time

Featured image Last month we took notice of the case of John Beale, the highest paid employee at the EPA and climate change expert who hadn’t actually worked at the agency for nearly a decade, claiming instead to be a deep-cover CIA agent.  Beale was sentenced today to 32 months in prison (seems rather light) for what the government called “massive fraud.”  Somehow, however, none of the reporters following this story have »

Time for Oversight, Foresight, and Hindsight Hearings

Featured image Juliet Eilprin’s story in yesterday’s Washington Post about how the Obama administration delayed the rollout of numerous regulations to avoid controversy in the election ought to be a significant scandal: The White House systematically delayed enacting a series of rules on the environment, worker safety and health care to prevent them from becoming points of contention before the 2012 election, according to documents and interviews with current and former administration »

From cradle to grave, and beyond [UPDATED]

Featured image Fifty years ago, when the idea still seemed novel and overly intrusive, conservatives sometimes complained that the welfare state aimed to take care of Americans “from the cradle to the grave.” These days, however, the government is taking care of many Americans even after they reach the grave. The Washington Post reports that “in the past few years, Social Security has paid $133 million to beneficiaries who [are] deceased.” In »

It’s time for a time-out at the EPA

Featured image As Steve notes below, less than 7 percent of the EPA’s workforce is considered “essential,” in the sense of being permitted to work during the government shutdown. The message? The productive sector of our society needs to be harassed, but not on a daily basis. However, if John Brenner were still working for the EPA, he would probably be deemed part of the essential 6.6 percent. So would his close »

The wealth of Washington

Featured image During the tourist season here in Washington, D.C., it sometimes occurs to me that if our tourists drove around the many wealthy neighbors in the D.C. area, the reaction would cause the Tea Party movement of 2010 to look like an ordinary tea party. Such is the wealth of Washington. I had the same thought when I read this post by John Gabriel at Ricochet called “D.C. Incomes Boom While »

What’s the difference between government background checks and those by the private sector?

Featured image As part of its war on standards, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing employers around the country for using the results of background checks to screen applicants for employment. The EEOC’s theory is that such screening excludes a disproportionate amount of Black applicants and, at least in the cases where EEOC sues, is not justified by business necessity. But the federal government screens applicants for employment. And given »

Now The Gov’t Wants to Regulate . . . Dinner Parties?

Featured image I suppose it was only a matter of time before the Bloombergians of the world decided to extend their regulatory impulses to . . . dinner parties.  The local CBS affiliate in New York reports on the crackdown on “illegal” dinner parties (with my commentary interpolated): NEW YORK (CBS 2) — As you sit down to dinner, this story illustrates eating out like you have never experienced before. We are talking »

Time to Drive a Stake Through “Stakeholding”

Featured image The Dept. of Energy has just released a “Directory of Potential Stakeholders for DoE Actions Under NEPA” (link to a PDF file).  NEPA is the National Environmental Policy Act; think environmental impact assessments, and the endless lawsuits challenging their adequacy.  Skip over the list of the myriad federal and state agencies that want in on the process; note the list starting on page 24 (or just check the list in »

Our Disastrous Bureaucrats

Featured image The story of Marty Hahne, the magician who received a regulatory notice from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture that he needed to file a disaster plan for his rabbit, has been around a while, but this week it made the Washington Post, so now it is officially certified by the (still-unregulated, for the time being) mainstream media: Hahne is a slight man with the stage persona of an exuberant doofus »

Was Orwell Right After All?

Featured image Cast your mind back a ways to the 1980s and early 1990s, and you may recall that our thoughts about technology started undergoing a revision—namely, that far from offering increasingly powerful tools for government oppression and control, personal computers, cell phones, and all the rest of the emergent technologies were becoming means of our liberation as well as barriers to oppressive government.  Certainly personal computers and new communication technology—or really »

Law of Unintended Consequences Strikes Again

Featured image I forget which Chicago-school economist it was (probably it was Sam Peltzman) who once suggested that the most effective way to cut down on automobile accidents would be to place a sharp, eight-inch knife on the steering wheel of every car.  Instead, we got mandates for seat belts and air bags.  Peltzman’s research showed that in the early years people with seat belts suffered fewer injuries in accidents, but . »