Thursday, March 19, 2020

More Regulation Yields Worse Products

What happened to the gas can? In a recent interview with American Institute researcher Jeffrey Tucker, journalist Sharyl Attkisson explores the topic of how government regulation has made things that used to work well now fail to meet muster. After relaying his experience with changes to the gas can and how poorly it pours out its contents, Tucker noted that government regulations are to blame. But it's not only the gas can that has been regulated into a state worse than before; it's a litany of devices and appliances that have been made worse by the government.

"These are the sorts of things that affect the quality of our life on a daily basis," Tucker observes. "Does your ice maker actually make ice? Does your iron work? And this is all because of these regulations. Isn't it strange how much regulations sort of secretly control all the things we use in our life? We don't even know it. And they'll never roll it back, so they never face any real pressure. So there's no way to revert it. Whereas normally, in private enterprise, if you design something that doesn't quite work right, people stop buying it and that's the end, so there's a mechanism that corrects for errors. But when government's doing it, they don't seem to have any way to fix it."

Tucker's discovery is not limited to a few inconsequential items. In fact, it's the all-too-common experience of every American. While he grants that these bureaucrats' regulations may be well intentioned, he argues, "The problem is that the bureaucrats have inordinate power and if they make a mistake, there's really nothing that can be done about it. We ended up having to spend the rest of our lives working around them and I don't think that's a good way to live. We used to have gasoline cans that worked well. And then we created this innovation that just didn't work nearly as well."

In this light, we should be crying foul when politicians like New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio call for the federal government to take over private enterprise, as he did recently over coronavirus fears. "People can get tested according to a priority structure, and it's not enough testing. It's just as simple as that," de Blasio argued after he called on the fed to take control of U.S. businesses in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. He continued, "Here's the reality. This is a war-like situation. We're in a war-time scenario with a 'Mar-a-Lago attitude' being used by the federal government, right? ... This is a case for a nationalization, literally a nationalization, of crucial factories and industries that could produce the medical supplies to prepare this country for what we need."

Calling for a fascist takeover of America's private industry is a textbook recipe for ushering in tyranny. And "helping people" is always how tyrants justify their demand for greater power. Somehow, it never works out the way they claim.



McConnell’s Pitch to Veteran Judges: Please Quit

Running out of federal court vacancies to fill, Senate Republicans have been quietly making overtures to sitting Republican-nominated judges who are eligible to retire to urge them to step aside so they can be replaced while the party still holds the Senate and the White House.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, who has used his position as majority leader to build a judicial confirmation juggernaut for President Trump over the past three years, has been personally reaching out to judges to sound them out on their plans and assure them that they would have worthy successors if they gave up their seats soon, according to multiple people with knowledge of his actions.

It was not known how many judges had been contacted or which of them Mr. McConnell had spoken to directly. One of his Republican colleagues said others had also initiated outreach in an effort to heighten awareness among judges nominated by Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush and George W. Bush that making the change now would be advantageous.

The overt effort by Republicans to create vacancies reflects a realization that Mr. Trump could lose the presidency, or that Republicans could lose the Senate majority and deprive Mr. Trump of his partner on judicial confirmations even if he did gain a second term.

Mike Davis, a former nomination counsel for Senate Republicans who created the Article III Project, a conservative judicial advocacy group, said that he still expected Mr. Trump to win but that “we have to hope for the best and plan for the worst.” Republicans are reminding the judges that it could be another eight years — 2029 — before they could leave under a Republican president.

Mr. Davis estimated that judges would need to decide by late summer or early fall to provide sufficient time for a nomination and confirmation.

According to a tally by the Article III Project, more than 90 judges nominated by the three previous Republican presidents are either now eligible or will become eligible this year to take what is known as senior status, a form of semiretirement that enables their slots to be filled even though they can still hear cases, hire clerks and receive full pay.

Twenty-eight of them are judges on the influential appeals courts, which have been a particular focus of the alliance between the Trump White House and Senate Republicans. One of them, Judge Thomas B. Griffith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, announced this month that he planned to retire in September, giving Mr. Trump the opportunity to make a third appointment to the powerful court in what will most likely be a contentious confirmation fight.

Mr. Trump has already placed more than 50 appeals court judges on the bench during the past three years — more than a quarter of the overall appellate bench. The aggressive Republican push has been so efficient that only one appellate seat is currently open.

Conservatives are eager to see some of the longer-tenured judges make room for younger candidates who could continue deciding cases for decades.

David Popp, a spokesman for Mr. McConnell, said it should come as no surprise that the majority leader would be interested in the tenure plans of current judges.

“I’d point you back to his longrunning mantra of ‘leave no vacancy behind,’” Mr. Popp said of Mr. McConnell, who has for months made it clear that he intended to fill as many judicial slots as possible before the end of this year.

Mr. McConnell has long been intently focused on the federal courts and considers his record on installing conservative judges the hallmark of his career, along with his decision to block the 2016 Supreme Court nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland. The Courier-Journal, based in Louisville, Ky., reported that Mr. McConnell had flown there Thursday with Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh for the investiture of a new U.S. District Court judge, Justin Walker, a 38-year-old former Kavanaugh clerk whom the Senate confirmed despite questions about his experience level.

Democrats have already made it clear that they intend to try to counter the successful Republican effort to place conservatives on the courts if they get the chance.



GOP congressmen introduce simple plan to save taxpayers $15B

Given their propensity for subsidizing Serbian cheese and propping up the Pakistani film industry, government bureaucrats aren’t exactly known for putting taxpayer money to good use. But even with its wasteful reputation, the federal government's mismanagement of public properties is far more shocking.

Thankfully, two Republican congressmen have a plan that could address this issue once and for all — and pass the savings on to taxpayers.

On Monday, Reps. Greg Murphy and Ted Budd introduced the “Eliminate Agency Excess Space Act.” The two North Carolina Republicans’ bill would ease restrictions and eliminate red tape, making it much easier for federal agencies to sell off unused buildings and properties. Right now, there’s an extremely cumbersome process that makes it almost impossible to do so.

This is a real problem. Right now, 3,120 federal government buildings sit vacant, while almost 8,000 are partially empty or underutilized. According to Citizens Against Government Waste, selling off these unused properties would save $15 billion over five years. Under the bill, this money is deposited in the U.S. Treasury and used to pay down the federal debt.

That’s $106 in debt relief for every U.S. taxpayer. It’s just a start, sure, but reining in government waste and paying down the more than $23 trillion national debt will require thousands of small reforms such as this.

It’s unclear whether Democrats, and notably, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, will block this bill or join forces with its Republican sponsors. But eliminating obvious waste really shouldn’t be partisan or controversial.

“Nothing should be more frustrating to a taxpayer than to see their hard-earned dollars pay to lease vacant buildings that the federal government has no intention of ever using,” Budd said in a statement. “This is a prime example of what happens when federal agencies are not held accountable for failing to use basic best practices from the private sector.”

The congressman makes a good point: It’s hard to imagine a private business letting valuable property rot away unused without selling it off. Yet this sort of thing regularly happens in our government because, sadly, bureaucrats just don’t have the same kind of profit incentives forcing them to work efficiently. This is why more congressional oversight and the passage of commonsense waste-reduction legislation are both urgently needed.




"15 DAYS TO SLOW THE SPREAD": Trump rolls out tougher guidelines for Americans to follow over the next few weeks (The Daily Wire)

NOT A SPENDING STIMULUS: Trump administration to propose $850 billion tax-relief-focused stimulus (The Hill)

DISINFORMATION: Chinese bots flood Twitter to spread anti-Trump conspiracy theories (The National Pulse)

BIRDS OF A FEATHER: NBC News spreads Chinese Communist propaganda amid coronavirus outbreak (Washington Examiner)

REDEMPTION: Tennessee brothers who stockpiled nearly 18,000 bottles of hand sanitizer donate stash (Fox News)

LEGAL CHALLENGE DENIED: Ohio Supreme Court allows delay to primary election (The Columbus Dispatch)

EXTRAORDINARY HEALTH-RELATED DELAY: Supreme Court postpones March oral arguments (Fox News)

"DELIVERY PROMISES ARE LONGER THAN USUAL": Amazon to hire 100,000 more workers and give raises to current staff to deal with coronavirus demands (CNBC)

POLITICS BY OTHER MEANS: International Criminal Court prepares legal war on the U.S. (Washington Examiner)

POLICY: Mitt Romney's foolish stimulus proposal (Washington Examiner)

POLICY: Coronavirus shows why America must get resources from our own backyard, not China (Issues & Insights)

POLICY: COVID-19 response shows that federalism is working (National Review)


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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