Wednesday, January 4, 2017

January, 2017, Part 1, Political CLass Insanity: Our (Over) Regulated Nation, DEA Making Sick Americans, and More

It is the beginning of another month which means it is again time to review the latest political class insanity from Washington and around the world. Political class insanity takes many forms including the wasting of taxpayer wealth, criminal fraud within government programs, inane and stupid political quotes and actions, the inability to create and implement effective and efficient government programs, stupid and ill performing economic policies and strategies, and other forms of insanity that continue to evolve and surprise and shock us. 

Today and for all of the insanity posts this month, let’s start off with a welcome piece of honest political dialog. It comes from a State Department spokesperson. Mark Toner, who is about to start the daily State Department press briefing. In a joking matter, he makes the following quote: "Welcome to the State Department. I think we have some interns in the back. Welcome. Good to see you in this exercise in transparency and democracy." 

He then burst out laughing at his own quote, indicating he also knew what a joke the Obama administration has been, especially Mr. Toner’s State Department, when it comes to cover ups, lack of transparency, denial of Freedom of Information Act requests, the prosecution of whistleblowers, etc. But at least it was a little refreshing to finally hear some actual honesty out of Washington as we see from the actual clip of the news conference:

With that context of honesty, let’s see what other insanity has been going down:

1) Neil W. McCabe, writing for Breitbart on December 20, 2016, talked about the launching of a new US Navy warship, the USS Gabrielle Giffords, which happens to be ninth type ship within the so-called Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) class of warships. But according to Mr. McCabe, calling it a combat ship or a warship might be giving it more credit than it deserves. We are likely looking at another costly and useless expenditure of taxpayer wealth much like the $13 billion aircraft carrier, USS Gerald R. Ford that some experts think should be scrapped despite the $13 billion price tag and the F-35 fighter jet that has likely already cost over a trillion dollars in development:

  • While current Coast Guard cutters have deck guns with a maximum range of 20 miles, the brand new and expensive LCS ships have deck guns that have a range of only 10 miles.
  • This limited gun power range makes them susceptible to attack before they are even in range of the enemy.
  • In Congressional testimony, J. Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of Operational Test and Evaluation, said that because of the ship’s speed and small size, “it could avoid combat and find a place to hide from the hostilities,” a trait that maybe you do not want in a “warship.
  • Furthermore he stated in testimony: “The Navy’s own requirements show that the only — the only thing the Navy expects, if it’s hit by one of those kinds of threats, is for it to be able to exit the battle area and or provide for an orderly abandon ship. A hit on one of these ships is going to be a real problem–if you can keep it out of harm’s way? OK.”
  • Keep it out of harm’s way,” again, not a trait you want in a warship.
  • Senator John McCain summed up this Pentagon disaster nicely, referring to this class of Navy ships as an “alleged warship”: “For some reason, Navy leaders prioritized deploying a ship with no capability over completing necessary mission package testing. In other words, the taxpayers have paid for—and are still paying for—26 ships that have demonstrated next-to-no combat capability. This is unacceptable.”
  • And as often the case with Pentagon spending, the cost of these almost useless ships is not close to being what was originally proposed since back in 2007 when each ship was supposed to cost $220 a piece but now each ship costs more than double that original estimate, coming in at about $480 million each, according to a recent General Accounting Office report.
  • The GAO was also not complimentary of the whole class of ships: “Much of the LCS’s capabilities are yet to be demonstrated and the frigate’s design, cost, and capabilities are not well-defined.”
Typical Pentagon and government procurement: rosy promises, over budget, under performing.

2) Unfortunately, we continue to report on the insanity in Chicago as it relates to gang and gun violence in the city with some of the most stringent gun laws in the country. Despite these strict gun laws, the violence continues to grow with local, state, and Federal politicians having no solution in their little minds to put forth to stop the violence:

  • Over the recent Christmas weekend, 30 people were wounded and 11 were killed by gun violence in Chicago.
  • The Chicago Sun Times reported that it was the deadliest Christmas weekend in a long time.
  • For the same holiday weekend in 2015, only 6 were killed.
  • Over 700 people were killed in Chicago in 2016.
So much for peace on earth and goodwill to men, certainly not the spirit in Chicago, the city with possibly the strongest gun control laws and yet the most gun violence in the country with no politicians having an answer to the ever increasing violence.

3) We have often been critical of the so-called “war on drugs.” It has been going on since the Nixon administration, has probably cost over a trillion dollars, it has given us the highest prison population in the world by any measure, has created violent and wealthy drug cartels, and still has not prevented tens of thousands of Americans from dying from drug abuse every year.

According to a recent article on the Against Crony Capitalism website, the stupidity of the “war” continues today. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) recently classified a “therapeutic, non-psychoactive” substance, CBD oil, as a Schedule 1 drug, the highest and most dangerous drug classification that exists. Apparently, CBD has been used for a while to help Americans deal with epilepsy and other debilitating illnesses. It helps keep epilepsy sufferers and their seizures under control.

So while the Mexican drug cartels are flooding the country with cheap heroin creating a heroin addiction crisis, with opioids killing thousands of Americans every year, some bureaucrat in the DEA decided to focus on a substance that relieves the suffering of Americans. Insanely bad priorities.

4) Let’s move from a DEA bureaucrat that has too much time on his or her hands that they need to come up with stupid regulations and move to the larger Obama administration,which obviously has way too much time on their hands. Consider an article by Paul Bedard in the Washington Examiner on December 30, 2016:

  • The Obama administration has issued 3,853 Federal government regulations in 2016. 
  • This means that for every day of 2015, the Obama administration issued more than ten regulations a day on average, seven days a week.
  • This also comes out to 18 regulations for every law Congress passed this past year. 
  • The Federal government regulation book, the Federal Register, is now over 97,000 pages long.
  • This was the highest number of regulations passed in a year during the Obama Presidency.
As always, there are at least three really stupid aspects of this over regulation:

  1. How is that the preceding 43 Presidents did not see the need for the thousands and thousands of regulations the Obama administration has put in place during its tenure, were those former Presidents that stupid while Obama is oh so smart?
  2. I have always maintained that as government and the bureaucracy that accompanies it gets larger and grosser, those within the bureaucracy need to continually justify their existence and one way to do that is to constantly come up with new, useless, and stupid regulations.
  3. I also maintain that the reasons the economy and Obama’s economic recovery have been so lousy is that businesses and business owners across the country have spent so much time, money, and resources trying to comply with these new, useless, and stupid regulations that they have had much less time to devote to growing their businesses which in turn would grow the economy.
Another problem with creating so many burdensome regulations is that the American people get virtually no say in the creation or to determine if these regulations are actually needed. The number of regulations is so much higher than the number of laws passed by Congress, the place where the American voters’ voices should be heard and taken into account. That voter accountability is absent when government regulators run wild.

This is lack of democracy is illustrated by an index developed by the Unconstitutional Index that is developed annually by Clyde Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. It does a ratio analysis of the number of regulations put in place each year to the number of laws passed each year. The higher the number the more it means that unaccountable regulations are having more of an impact than elected representatives.

Consider an example from Mr. Crews chart that is listed below. In 2003, Federal government agencies put 4,148 regulations in place, Congress passed 198 laws which means that about there were about 21 regulations put in place for each law passed. Thus, the Index value of 21. During the Bush later years, that index never got above 25, usually never getting higher than 20.

However, if you look at the Obama years, we see the index get and stay quite high most years. In fact, the index averages almost 30 over the past eight years, 50% higher than the Bush years.

Just another example of government out of control. We are a nation of regulations now, most of which are likely unneeded except that they help an unneeded bureaucracy from becoming extinct. Unlike politicians, we never know the who, how, and why of these regulations but just know that they decrease our freedom while bogging down the economy. And the Obama administration did more bogging down than probably any Presidency in our history.

A good start to another month of bad political class insanity. Regulations out of control, the DEA making Americans suffer, unchecked violence continues in Chicago, and taxpayers pay for warships that cannot fight a war. More tomorrow.

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