Monday, February 11, 2019

Cuts to Regulation Are Bringing Back Jobs

The points below are from an analysis of the SOTU speech

Compared to previous speeches, President Donald Trump did not outline new regulatory reform goals. However, he did briefly note that the “administration has cut more regulations in a short time than any other administration during its entire tenure.”

As a result, he added, “Companies are coming back to our country in large numbers.”

The administration has indeed taken important steps to rein in agencies’ rulemaking. It issued 65 percent fewer “economically significant” rules—those with costs to the private sector that exceed $100 million a year—than the Obama administration, and 51 percent fewer than the Bush administration, after 22 months in office.

The White House is also pursuing rollbacks of the Obama administration’s costliest and unwarranted rules. But regulatory repeal is a laborious process that may take years—especially given the never-ending legal challenges pursued by regulatory proponents.

The No. 1 thing the administration must do is stop internet regulation. Further innovation is key to economic growth and national security, and both will be stymied if the statists get a regulatory foothold. If Trump pursues no other regulatory reform, preventing internet regulations would be enough.

The second priority would be to demand that any new regulatory statute has a hard expiration deadline. That’s needed to halt the cumulative regulatory burden and force agencies (and Congress) to review the necessity for regulations.

The White House cannot accomplish all the necessary reforms unilaterally. Congress must do much more to eliminate unnecessary regulation and curtail agency overreach.

Congress could do a great deal more to advance reform by exercising a bit of political will, including eliminating funding for regulatory programs that lack actual statutory authority or those that have failed to achieve the intended results. Lawmakers must also institute expiration dates for funding of regulatory initiatives to reduce the cumulative burden of regulation.

The 50-member staff of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs who review agency rulemaking is badly outnumbered by the hundreds of thousands of regulators who labor daily crafting rules. Congress should expand the resources of the office to improve regulatory oversight, as well as assert more of its own authority over runaway regulation.



FTC is helping China and shafting Americans

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement urging the Federal Trade Commission to immediately settle a lawsuit against Qualcomm over the collection of agreed upon fees for use of its intellectual property:

“It is ironic that the Trump Administration has staked out the protection of intellectual property as a primary concern in our trade relations with China, yet, the Federal Trade Commission is suing San Diego based Qualcomm to break its licensing agreements for intellectual property that Apple has tired of paying for, even though they continue to benefit from that technology.  It is shocking however, that the FTC has used the Chinese megafirm Huawei as one of its key witnesses opposing Qualcomm’s licenses.  Apparently, the FTC does not realize or care that the licensing agreements for past technological innovations are what pays for Qualcomm’s research in creating the chips for the 5G future, and that Huawei is their number one competitor.  The FTC suit would effectively cripple the only U.S. company who is competing in developing the Internet of Things to the lasting detriment of the interests of the United States.

“While the FTC is an independent government body, their case is a disaster for American interests and they need to settle it now before more harm is done.  Policy makers from across the political spectrum need to understand that the race for the future of the connected world is at stake and Chinese control of every aspect of the Internet of Things is extremely dangerous.  All Qualcomm seems to be asking is that they be allowed to collect fees which were agreed upon by business partners which wanted to use innovations which they developed.  This is the essence of intellectual property. It is also how U.S. businesses should run, relying upon their own ingenuity and productivity to profit rather than relying upon government handouts and lawfare.

“The FTC is reportedly in long overdue settlement talks with Qualcomm.  The FTC should settle this lawsuit immediately and end its attack on the only company positioned to prevent the Chinese from running roughshod over the Internet of the future.”



How Trump can curb government over-reach

Families and small businesses would benefit from transparency by federal regulators

Our nation alone was founded on the proposition that We the People should govern ourselves. That is why conservatives object to unelected bureaucrats enacting rules without the consent of the people. Fortunately, with the simple stroke of a pen, President Trump has the ability to restore power to citizens and make the regulatory morass less economically burdensome.

By signing an executive order to force federal agencies to be transparent with their studies and data, he could add to his excellent deregulatory legacy and unshackle manufacturers and industries so they can contribute more to our nation’s economic growth.

The cost of federal regulations is obnoxiously high and directly impacts the pocketbooks of all Americans to the tune of almost $2 trillion a year — nearly a tenth of America’s gross domestic product. The highly respected Mercatus Center has shown that these costs also result in a massive drag on economic growth, further harming jobs and families.

Huge drivers of these costs are bad rules based on questionable — and concealed — evidence. Unsound or unreproducible scientific research hidden from policymakers, the public and scientific peers has been used by regulators with personal agendas to promulgate unsupported environmental and other rules that harm the economy and impede progress.

Members of both parties agree: Better government is built on sound and open data. This is one way to empower citizens and ensure that new rules meet their needs without unnecessary costs.

A bipartisan Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (CEP) was formed to implement a bipartisan bill increasing policymakers’ access to data. And Mr. Trump — who has implemented far-reaching regulatory reform efforts — has also weighed in on data transparency with an executive order requiring agencies to identify existing regulations that “rely in whole or in part on data, information, or methods that are not publicly available or that are insufficiently transparent to meet the standard of reproducibility.”

But to ensure truly responsible and transparent standards for all regulation, we need access to scientific data for newly proposed regulations as well as for those regulations not yet finalized. That’s why the American Conservative Union is leading an effort — supported by many other conservative organizations and business groups — seeking a further executive order to provide for CLEAR Data — which stands for “Clarifying the Law on Evidentiary Access for Regulation.”

If Congress is too slow to restore citizen government to promote innovation and individual freedom, the president should use his authority through executive order. It is abundantly clear that Democrats in the House are not willing to work with this president. So with the stroke of a pen, the president could make transparency uniform across government.

A piecemeal approach with each agency pursuing its own agenda would produce terrible results. An even worse outcome is certain if career bureaucrats are allowed to work in secret to keep their pet regulations hidden from an agency process intended to address CLEAR Data initiatives.

The executive order should apply to scientific data key accountability principles included in CEP’s recommendations:

Transparency. CEP concluded: “Those engaged in generating and using data and evidence should (provide) meaningful channels for public input and comment and ensure that evidence produced is made publicly available.” Our proposed effort would call for data used to justify regulation to be identified and made sufficiently available to test, authenticate and reproduce the findings. And, importantly, it should apply to all regulations currently in the pipeline and under review.

Rigor. “Evidence should be developed using well-designed and well-implemented methods tailored to the questions being asked.” We would call for science-based regulation to be based on peer-reviewed studies — the standard in probity and reliability.

Privacy. “Individual privacy and confidentiality must be respected in the generation and use of data and evidence.” We want to ensure that agencies avoid unauthorized disclosure of personal data and trade secrets while allowing other researchers to judge the validity of the conclusions evidence is cited to support.

Humility. CEP suggested that “Care should be taken not to over-generalize from findings that may be specific to a particular study or context.” The ultimate form of humility is accountability — best advanced through an executive order whose provisions on disclosure of research and underlying data.

We couldn’t agree more with the commission’s exhortation: “Whether deciding on funding allocations (or) assessing proposed regulations evidence should play an important role in key decisions made by government officials . to make sure our government’s decision-making process is among the best in the world.”

In other words: To ensure better decision-making and more accountable regulation — at a time when the economic stakes couldn’t be higher for small businesses and working families — we need CLEAR Data that is fully disclosed, high-quality and reproducible, with means in place to protect privacy.



92,000 Federal Bureaucrats Earn More Than...

Democrats want raises for all government workers. But do they already make too much? 

The House voted recently to provide a 2.6% across-the-board pay raise for federal workers. Speaking in favor of the legislation, Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA) argued, “Our federal civil servants are like any other workforce. More than 900,000 of those federal employees earn less than $60,000 a year. They are not rich. They are not living high on the hog. They deserve and need this adjustment, especially after the longest, most reckless shutdown of the government in American history.”

What Connolly said of federal workers is often true. But it’s also often not. Pushing back against Connolly’s assertion, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) noted the obvious irony: “Think about what this bill says. All of those hard-working taxpayers in the private sector, hey, you are already making less, but now you are going to have more of your tax dollars go to pay people — who are already making more money than you — to get a raise. How is that fair?”

Backing Jordan’s argument are last year’s federal workers’ salary numbers, provided by the Congressional Research Service. One statistic that is quite illuminating shows that 92,000 federal bureaucrats earn as much of more than the governor of the state where they work. For example, 1,000 clerical workers in Alabama made $120,000 in salary; in Ohio, 333 made nearly $149,000; in Maryland 3,561 made at least $170,000. And the list goes on.

Adam Andrzejewski, CEO and founder of the government accountability website, pointedly asks, “When public affairs staffers in Alabama are out-earning their governor, it’s time for Congress to hold hearings regarding the proper pay levels for federal employees. How can [thousands of] general administrators, clerks and office service staffers make as much as a governor?”

The House voted 259-161 in approving the salary raises, with 29 Republicans siding with every Democrat.



San Francisco’s Liberal Policies Have Made It a Slum

San Francisco is one of the richest cities it the world. It’s given us music, technology, and elegant architecture. Now it gives us filthy homeless encampments.

One urban planner told me, “I just returned from the Tenderloin [a section of San Francisco]. It’s worse than slums of India, Haiti, Africa!”

So I went to San Francisco to make a video about that. I’ve never seen slums in Africa, but I’ve seen them in Haiti and India.

What I saw in San Francisco looked similar. As one local resident put it, “There’s s— everywhere. It’s just a mess out here.”

There’s also lots of mental illness. One man told us, “Vampires are real. I’m paranoid as hell.” San Francisco authorities mostly leave the mentally ill to fend for themselves on the street.

Other vagrants complain about them. “They make it bad for people like us that hang out with a sign,” one beggar told us.

San Francisco is a pretty good place to “hang out with a sign.” People are rarely arrested for vagrancy, aggressive panhandling, or going to the bathroom in front of people’s homes. In 2015, there were 60,491 complaints to police, but only 125 people were arrested.

Public drug use is generally ignored. One woman told us, “It’s nasty seeing people shoot up—right in front of you. Police don’t do anything about it! They’ll get somebody for drinking a beer but walk right past people using needles.”

Each day in San Francisco, an average of 85 cars are broken into.  “Inside Edition” ran a test to see how long stereo equipment would last in a parked car. Its test car was quickly broken into. Then the camera crew discovered that its own car had been busted into as well.

Some store owners hire private police to protect their stores. But San Francisco’s police union has complained about the competition. Now there are only a dozen private cops left, and street people dominate neighborhoods.

We followed one private cop, who asked street people, “Do you need any type of homeless outreach services?” Most say no. “They love the freedom of not having to follow the rules,” said the cop.

And San Francisco is generous. It offers street people food stamps, free shelter, train tickets, and $70 a month in cash.  “They’re always offering resources,” one man dressed as Santa told us. “San Francisco’s just a good place to hang out.” So every week, new people arrive.

Some residents want the city to get tougher with people living on the streets. “Get them to the point where they have to make a decision between jail and rehab,” one told us. “Other cities do it, but for some reason, San Francisco doesn’t have the political will.”

For decades, San Francisco’s politicians promised to fix the homeless problem. When Sen. Dianne Feinstein was mayor, she proudly announced that she was putting the homeless in hotels: “A thousand units, right here in the Tenderloin!”

When California Gov. Gavin Newsom was mayor of San Francisco, he bragged, “We have already moved 6,860 human beings.” Last year, former Mayor Mark Farrell said, “We need to fund programs like Homeward Bound.”

But the extra funding hasn’t worked. One reason is that even if someone did want to get off the street and rent an apartment, there aren’t many available.

San Francisco is filled with two- and three-story buildings, and in most neighborhoods, putting up a taller building is illegal. Even where zoning laws allow it, California regulations make construction so difficult that many builders won’t even try.

For years, developer John Dennis has been trying to convert an old meatpacking plant into an apartment building—but it has taken him four years just to get permission to build.

“And all that time, we’re paying property taxes and paying for maintenance,” says Dennis. “I will do no more projects in San Francisco.”

People in San Francisco often claim to be concerned about helping the poor. But their many laws make life much tougher for the poor.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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