Tag Archives: federal regulations

2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

The comments and actions or inactions of the politicians provide plenty of fodder for the inquiring mind…..

Those on the Right generally bemoan the level of regulation of business and even private affairs and those on the Left defend each of them and call for even more regulations for ever perceived problem whether real or only imagined.    A few facts might be helpful in determining the level of regulations we face in the US now.  If you are a big bank then you are subject to the regulations and injunctions of–the SEC, the FDIC, Office of the Comptroller, the Federal Reserve, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the new committee under the Dodd-Frank law and that leaves out the other government agencies like EEOC, OSHA, the NLRB, the Commerce department and even the EPA and of course the IRS.   Those are the ones that come to mind much less those other arcane Federal entities that have a hand in regulation we can’t think of now.  You think that is enough regulation?

Does anyone anywhere anymore take a few two by fours and old apple crate and wheels from an old pair of roller skates and make a small derby car for their three or four year-old?   It really isn’t that hard and it is a great Saturday project for Dad and his son.  Try it sometime and you learn something about yourself.

France has historically prided itself on a vigorous protection of individual rights including the right of free speech similar to our own.  Just this week they made another arrest for an alleged criminal violation because of speech.  It involves a Norwegian fellow that supposedly made “aggressive racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic remarks on the internet.  Let’s assume that what he wrote was indeed very vile, nasty and offensive.  But the West has become so addicted to the notion of political correctness that we are intruding on the right to free speech.  After all if I restrict what you say then you may be able to restrict what I say.  And like art much of the offensive language is in the eyes of the beholder.   Even if the comments are outright racist do we really want the Government to impinge in any degree on our comments?  After all we allow the most vile images in the art world that are grossly offensive such as a crucifix in a bottle of urine in the art gallaries as an expression of free speech but someone is not allowed to vent against another group he finds abhorrent.  Let all the ideas have free license in the marketplace of ideas however repugnant.   We have faith that ultimately the better thoughts and arguments will prevail among a free people.   You have a right to despise red-headed, one -legged Irishmen and call for their deportation through new legislation.  It might be an awful idea and even silly but free speech is all or control by the State, there is no middle ground.   Free speech rights are a zero sum game either you have them are  they are regulated which means you have only the free speech rights allowed by those in power.

Politicians will, when convenient, deny that the Sun rises in the East.  Witnesses Jay Carney’s recent statement this week that there is no evidence that Obamacare is slowing or impeding hiring in the US.  What is so sad is that there will be millions out there that will hear that and shake their heads up and down in agreement.   That statement has as much truth as the assertion of the guy in the White House a couple of years ago that passage of Obamacare would save the average American family $2500.00 a year.  Some still believe that even in face of revised health insurance  premium statements moving up.

I was blessed with a great mom.  She was full of energy and had a true joie du vivre and watched over me and my brother.  Yet by today’s standards she would probably be brought up before the child welfare services.  When I was about 11 or 12 we lived in a neighborhood that was still open land in many areas as the building bo0m after the War continued to fill in the vacant areas.  My friend had some horses about a mile from our house.  On many occasions my mom would let me and my friend go to the corral alone.  We would saddle the horses, bridle them and then go riding for an hour or so in the woods, creek bottoms and fields still extant in the neighborhood and then undue everything and stall the horses and come home.  Horses for you city slickers can be dangerous.  When a 1000 pound animal decides to do something he will regardless of what you want him to do.  I fell off a few times and was thrown off a few times.  Got some bruises and bumps but no broken bones and don’t think it lowered my IQ, but others may disagree about that.  It was a lesson in learning to handle freedom and the responsibility that goes with it.  You may think I am a bad seed to rat out mom now but the statute of limitations has long since run.

Poor Walt Disney must be spinning in his grave. First it was John Carter a couple years ago and now it is the Lone Ranger.  He knew it was best to tell a fun and interesting story and stay away from silly social issues of the day.   People always like a great story told and shown with verve but a significant part of any potential audience will rebel against a propagandist vent unless it is totally patriotic.    You might disagree but the ticket sales speak for themselves.

Best cartoonist ever?….without a doubt this vote goes to Bill Mauldin and his Willy and Joe series from WWII.  If you’ve never seen them you really should.  He had a deft touch about the average Joe and his worries and hopes and helped everyone truly appreciate the little joys in life.

“Where the people possess no authority, their rights obtain no respect.”  Geo. Bancroft, American historian.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

 

 

 

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Genuis Of The Common Law

For the last couple of generations the US has been adding new laws at an exponential rate covering all manner of issues and concerns to some groups.  They range from EPA laws and those vast regulations to the new CFPB with its laws and regulations regarding real estate laws and the mortgages that protect lenders in real estate lending.   Those are only a couple of the examples.    Virtually every State now has a version of the Uniform Commercial Code that regulates all manner of commercial and banking transactions.  Those laws used to be covered under what were known as the law of Bills and Notes.  Indeed only 50 years ago law students took a course called just that.   The real estate laws have been historically a matter exclusively within the purview of the respective States under the recognized “police powers” of the States to regulate their own internal affairs for both criminal law and private property rights and laws of contract interpretation.   Except for Louisiana which had the Napole0nic Code all the States utilized the Common Law from England.   That Common Law and its few companion laws has served us very well for about 500 years and still can if allowed to work as intended.

The Common Law was designed and evolved to be a constantly changing system of judicial interpretation of the laws to meet the every altering facts of modern life.   There were few statutes but there was the precedent of prior case law to guide.  The law was changed slowly as it always should be to make sure the new interpretations fit with the needs of society and the needs of commerce among merchants and individuals.

Unfortunately today if you asked the typical twenty-something they would think that the EPA laws and regulations are the only thing that protects individuals from harm by polluting neighbors be they companies or individuals.  Everyone wants clean air and water to be sure.   The Common Law has provided a remedy for such an issue for centuries.  Two hundred years ago if you had an upstream neighbor, say a plant in the Midlands in England or Connecticut, that was manufacturing dinner ware and their production methods dumped polluted materials into that stream that crossed your property and harmed your cattle and crops you were not without remedy.   You could sue them.  People then as now did not want to be poisoned with bad air or fouled water.  Mostly it would have been a suit for nuisance and it could include damages if they injured you or your property.  The courts even then under the Common Law could issue and injunction against the offender to cease and desist.  The local Sheriff could and would enforce such injunction.  There is really no pollution issue today that couldn’t be remedied by private suit under the Common Law.  Individuals, cities, States, anyone suffering injury, could bring such a suit.  The same remedy would be available for air pollution.   Other than research and gathering of data why do we really need the EPA?   The Common Law has had a well established set of Riparian rights to control and litigate the rights to water and its purity for centuries long before any bureaucrat set to work.

Likewise consumers have for centuries been able to protect themselves from fraudulent activity by business.   There are several different types of fraud that have been recognized by the  Common Law.  The recent brouhaha over alleged mortgage abuse and violations of the Rules of Evidence is another prime example of the relief the Common Law affords the average Joe.  If indeed a borrower was deceived by a crooked lender then the mortgage would be void under the various fraud provisions of the Common Law and the lender would not have been able to prove the validity of the mortgage under the companion Rules of Evidence and thus would have been denied foreclosure.

We have been on a path of abandoning centuries of collected wisdom for passions and expediences of the moment for a perceived wrong without remedy when a remedy is in fact available.    Advice for the future generations, always look with a skeptical eye when some group says we need a sweeping overhaul of some major portion of our laws.  First of all it is usually some interest group behind it and their lawyers looking for work and a special bailiwick for their future careers because they can claim that only they understand the new law which they made zillions pr0moting and then drafting.   Inevitably such new sweeping laws create a new bureaucracy which then of course always sees future issues to resolve and regulate or else they are out of business.  As so much in life follow the money and see who benefits from these new laws in addition to the alleged benefit to the consumer or society in general.

Lord knows we have enough lawyers in the country to bring cases for alleged wrongs.  We are allowing a very tried and true system that still exist to whither away while we create vast new bureaus, agencies and boards with powers that the bureaucrats and the specialists in their domain to seek to constantly expand.    Yes our water and air are cleaner now than 50 years ago but that is NOT because of the EPA.  The same result could have and likely would have been attained by the use of the Common Law.   If you doubt these comments you are invited to research  the Common Law yourself.   That system worked exceedingly well.  Some cases may have turned our badly due to corruption or bad judges but the system was sound.  Today we still have to deal with corrupt bureaucrats or incompetent ones and a system that “we” have very little control over because the average Joe is not in the decision-making loop.  But under the Common Law the average Joe and all his thousands of cases were at the heart of the law-making process and over time it always got it right.

“Every wanton  and causeless restraint of the will of the subject, whether practised by a monarch, a nobility, or a popular assembly, is a degree of tyranny.”  Sir Wm. Blackstone, 18th century judge and commentator on the Common Law.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

The offerings here beat the prices at Wal-Mart.  Even those of dubious distinction are still a bargain.  So, with a nod to Blackie we are off again.

Even the most ardent fans of Obamacare must have some pause when they consider the individual mandate that was just struck down by the Federal Court in Virginia.  If the Commerce Clause permits that then there is no limit to the reach of the Federal government into your daily life.  They could require that 25% of all your food purchases by veggies, which might make some moms happy, but many might feel their right of a personal choice has been infringed upon.  It would be easy to issue vouchers (like the ration coupons during the War) and they voucher required that 25% of it use be for veggies.  Ponder that a moment.

It ain’t just olcranky here worrying about the expansion of Chinese military power for the long-term.   Those smart folks in notoriously pacific Japan have begun revising their strategic military policy to counter some of that Chinese threat.   Lots of the “smartest guys in the room” are beginning to get nervous about the future threats from China, perhaps we should take note ourselves.

The Fed’s announced purpose in the latest QE2 600 billion printing binge is to hold down long term rates.  Yet, since that announcement became official the rate on the 10 treasury has risen about 1 percentage point.  That affects the mortgage rates and other lending rates for small business.  How’s that working out for us?   Do those Fed printers really know what they are doing or is the King not wearing any clothes?

Over the course of history there have been many attempts to redistribute the wealth of a society to make everything “fair”.  That effort has existed since the time of the Jubilee in the Old Testament to the Soviet Union.  I have a question.  If that idea is so good and makes everything fair for everyone then why did they have to repeat it every few decades?

The subject of tax rates and tax reform is much the rage these days.  We got a brief extension of the current rates by a whisker past the lame duck Congress.  Olcranky would like to see a completely new tax system and tax code.  If he were King for a day the first rule in the endeavor would be a requirement that the new tax code couldn’t be more than 50 pages long, including definitions and footnotes.   If it can’t be done in that length then it is too complicated or too many special interests (crony capitalists, public unions, etc) are having too much influence in its drafting.   Like folks did in the old days when they paid off their mortgage they would have a party and invite family and friends and burn the mortgage; we need a bonfire for the 70,000 existing tax code.

Most of you have never heard of or have any idea what the CFR is.  Good for you but you should.  It is the Code of Federal Regulations.  It is hundreds  of thousands of pages long.  Tt is written by almost all Federal agencies, bureaus and commissions.  From the Labor Department, OSHA, EPA, FCC, Commerce department, Transportation Department, etc.  The list alone would take pages to delineate.  Those regulations have the force of law unless and until overturned by a Court and to win a challenge you normally have to prove the regulation is frivolous, or arbitrary and unreasonable which is a very high hurdle legally.  These are laws not approved by Congress but formulated by bureaucrats with pointy heads and making over $100,00 per year to make your life better.  At least that is their story and they are sticking to it.

Before you rush out to buy that electric car you best consider the charging issues.  You do know that you can’t just plug it into your existing outlet.  If you did it would take even longer than the estimated 8 hours of charge time.  You will have to install a new 240 watt outlet.  Get an estimate from your local electrician.  What do you do in the middle of the night when there is an emergency and you have to drive 30 miles but the useful electric life is only for 10 miles?  We won’t even talk about the increase in your electric bill each month.  But you can breathe that pure air (which is already 80% nitrogen).  When are they going to tackle all that excess and damaging nitrogen?

Many disparage investing in gold alleging that it has no inherent value and that the current prices are artificial and will fall.  I’m not smart enough to predict that but I know people since recorded history have always treasured gold in every society.  When civilized nations, empires or people spread out to the far corners of the earth and met the savages they always noted that even the savages liked gold and sought it out.  Don’t argue with history or the markets I say.  It might only be good for filling cavities but people like it and it will always have some value and it can’t file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy like the “Golden” GM.

Great Britain is enduring another strong snow storm and bout of cold weather just like they had last year.  I wonder how much longer they can endure all this Global Warming? 

It is pretty amazing that a new-born infant smells so special and nice.  You don’t have to add lotions, creams or powder and they smell terrific.  Well, except when they have been “busy”. 

“Men show no mercy and expect no mercy, when honor calls, or when they fight for their idols or their gods.”  Schiller www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Regulate To Prosperity?

One of the hot topics this year in the political debate has been the amount and scope of Federal regulation of business.  We have already had sweeping new regulations in the financial industry and the consumer credit industry this year and the regulation thrust has much more room to run in the EPA areas and the off shore drilling sector to mention only a couple.  This is without even considering the complete take over of the health care industry and the thousands of pages of new regulations to be imposed there.  Most would agree that some regulation is essential to the proper functioning of a modern economy.  What is needed is a fair playing field and then rules fairly invoked and enforced by a neutral arbiter–unseeing like Lady Justice.  Some argue today that the negative effects of regulation are overblown and that regulations do not hamper industry or dampen innovation.  Some history might give a bit of insight into this dispute. 

Prior to Reagan the airline industry was one of the most regulated in the US.  Not only were there many regulations relating to safety issues there were regulations about who could fly on what routes and how much they could charge.  The Feds had to grant a permit to start a new airline or railroad.  Even if you had found the capital to start a new airline you  had to petition the ICC for a permit and prove that your new service was for the public “convenience and necessity”.  Of course the airlines then were captives of the Feds because they were so regulated.  All the other airlines you can be assured would oppose your petition.   They didn’t want competition.  The prices for air travel were very high and the service was not that good because of the lack of competition.  The airlines understandably were more interested in satisfying the demands of the regulators than the wishes and wants of their customers.  The customers had limited choices after all since there was only as much competition as the regulators would allow.  Some of that changed in the early ’70’s.

The DFW airport was being built between Dallas and Fort Worth due to the political pressure of Fort Worth and their representative Jim Wright.  Very few people wanted to fly to Fort Worth compared to the demands for travel to Dallas’ Love Field.  Many people in Dallas and nearby didn’t want to make the drive to the new airport.  Even with all the power that the Feds had there was one area they could not control–purely intrastate commerce.  Some visionary entrepreneurs saw an opportunity when the new airport opened.  This was the birth of Southwest Airlines.  It started as a strictly intrastate airline.  This was their opening.  The initial routes were limited to Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin.  They quickly added other routes when they met with success to Amarillo, Midland and El Paso. 

The secret to their success was that they did not have to meet any regulations of the ICC or receive a permit to fly.  The only Federal regulations they had to meet were those regarding safety of the planes and the air crews.  Southwest starting flying simultaneously with the opening of the new DFW airport.  It was an immediate success from the git go.  Their prices were incredibly cheaper than the competition.  You could fly round trip from Dallas to Houston for about 50 bucks.  It was hundreds for the same flight on American or Delta.  They turned their flights around very quickly at the gates and you on and off in a flash and they flew many flights per day so it was convenient.  The founders were fortunate in that only California and Texas had the population density and size to make economic sense to operate within the borders of only one state.

Of course the Democrats and Jim Wright were furious about all this.  Fort Worth had bet the ranch on the new airport and as Democrats were loyal to the whole regulatory scheme of the Feds controlling everything.  They couldn’t stop Southwest from operating inside Texas but they brought out their knives to make sure they couldn’t expand.  Thus the Wright amendment was born and implemented to restrict future operations of Southwest to only the surrounding states if and when they got a Federal permit to fly beyond the Texas borders. 

Then came Reagan and the era of de-regulation and we all have benefitted tremendously from the enhanced competition.  Just compare the current airline fares on an inflation adjusted basis with those of thirty years ago and you will see.  The prices fell like a rock.  But the airlines got lots more passengers as a result.

The direction we are going today it would be impossible for a new airline to start off the way Southwest did and succeed.  Less regulation will always lead to more innovation and economic growth.  Some ideas will be busts and some will be hugely successful.  The story of Southwest is a continuing lesson in economics and the role of regulation.  Lets hope the wave of new regulation will be halted before it squeezes out the new companies and the new ideas that will  produce the jobs for our children and grandchildren.

To every man his chance, to every man, regardless of his birth, his shining golden opportunity–to every man the right to live, to work, to be himself, and to become whatever thing his manhood and his vision can combine to make him–this, seeker, is the promise of
America”–Thomas Wolfe.   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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