December 28, 2015 11:15 AM
The modern regulatory state, created to reign in so-called “robber barons,” has come to be ruled by autonomous agencies acting like “barons in monarchies.” This week on RealClear Radio Hour, I’m joined by two guests who challenge this model and remember, celebrate, and defend our patrimony of free enterprise.
My first guest is Fred Smith, founder and past president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Director of the Center for Advancing Capitalism. Fred takes a historical look at the persisting tension between free marketers and progressives. He celebrates the oft-vilified leaders of America’s Industrial Revolution—from James J. Hill to John D. Rockefeller—for ushering in the Age of Enterprise.
In the second half of the show, John Cochrane, senior fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, discusses his recent paper, The Rule of Law in the Regulatory State. John shines a light on how the unchecked power of regulatory agencies threatens not just economic growth and dynamism but political freedom as well.
December 28, 2015 9:19 AM
78 new regulations, from drones to ground beef.
December 23, 2015 2:23 PM
There may be a federal war on coal in the ground, but Washington has plenty of coal for your Christmas stocking. The Federal Register—where federal agencies’ daily rules, regulations, notices, guidance documents, bulletins and other “dark matter” accumulate—just topped 80,000 pages for 2015.
December 23, 2015 11:43 AM
Nobody wants to drive an hour over the border just to get booze, especially on Christmas day. However, 27 states in the union still have blue laws—hangover regulations from prohibition—that could cause headaches for those shoppers who failed to finish their alcohol shopping early.
December 22, 2015 10:36 AM
In a 2013 essay for Forbes that is quickly becoming a Christmas classic, my colleague Fred Smith took a fresh look at the character of Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Scrooge’s name has long been synonymous with joyless greed, but this piece takes a different view of old Ebenezer’s refusal to donate to the poor or pay an employee for hours he didn’t work.
Looking back to his childhood in the Sixth Ward of Louisiana’s St. Tammany Parish, Fred recounts how locals who had started a small business would quickly be pressured into hiring unemployed family members and friends who, more often than not, contributed little to the profitability of the enterprise. In the end, most of these businesses doubling as community welfare schemes went under.
But there was one entrepreneur in Sixth Ward, “Old” Mr. Singletary, who resisted these cultural norms. He ran the local store and hired only those who worked hard and would accept the wages he offered. His store rarely offered credit and his prices were higher than those in the more remote city. Still, his store was one of the very few for miles, and thus essential to our community.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Singletary was not admired, but widely regarded as selfish, as tight, a “mean” man. He was our local Scrooge, an individual who believed in the value of what he was doing and was willing to accept the social stigma of ignoring the cultural demands of others. He wasn’t admired but his enterprise survived when many of others who gained greater cultural approval failed.
December 21, 2015 10:52 AM
Legal and cultural restrictions on choice and speech are ever growing in today’s society. From chilling speech codes on college campuses to crippling laws on child rearing, Americans have been dealing with intrusive government officials for far too long. This week on RealClear Radio Hour, I’m joined by two guests well acquainted with such overreach.
My first guest is climate scientist and free-range mom Danielle Meitiv. Danielle recounts how she, her husband, and their young children were repeatedly and crudely accosted, detained, and interrogated by the police and Child Protective Services in Maryland for letting the children play and walk in their quiet suburban neighborhood unescorted. Find out why she’s suing to help end such abuses.
In the second half of the show, criminal defense attorney Ken White joins me. A former federal prosecutor and lead contributor to the popular political blog Popehat, Ken examines corrupting legal influences, from the rampant calls to limit free speech to the system’s failure to confront prosecutorial abuse.
December 21, 2015 9:46 AM
There are just eight more editions of the Federal Register remaining to be published this year. With new regulations in the last week covering everything from truck drivers to prisoners’ phone calls, it remains on pace to set the all-time record page count.
On to the data:
- Last week, 62 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 55 the previous week.
- That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 43 minutes.
- So far in 2015, 3,263 final regulations have been published in the Federal Register. At that pace, there will be a total of 3,370 new regulations this year, fewer than the usual total of 3,500-plus.
- Last week, 1,998 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,307 pages the previous week.
- Currently at 79,229 pages, the 2015 Federal Register is on pace for 81,838 pages. This would break the all-time record set in 2010, with 81,405 pages.
- Rules are called “economically significant” if they have estimated annual costs of $100 million or more. Thirty-four such rules have been published so far this year, two in the past week.
- The total estimated compliance cost of 2015’s economically significant regulations ranges from $6.18 billion to $8.69 billion for the current year.
- Two hundred and ninety-two final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” have been published so far this year.
- So far in 2015, 524 new rules affect small businesses, with 83 of them classified as significant.
December 18, 2015 6:15 PM
Every month John Christy and Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, report global temperature data from their satellite monitoring program, known as the UAH record in the scientific literature.
Their just published year-end report features the decadal trends in Global, Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere, and Tropical temperatures over the 37-year satellite record.
So here’s some very good news for the holiday season. The global climate system, all on its own with no help from the Paris Climate Treaty, is on track to meet the treaty’s goal of avoiding 2°C of warming above pre-industrial temperatures.
From the UAH press release:
“The average temperature of Earth’s atmosphere has warmed just over four-tenths of a degree Celsius (almost three-fourths of a degree Fahrenheit) during the past 37 years, with the greatest warming over the Arctic Ocean and Australia, said Dr. John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Microwave sounding units on board NOAA and NASA satellites completed 37 complete years of collecting temperature data in November, giving us nearly global coverage of climate change during that time.
“If that trend was to continue for another 63 years, the composite warming for the globe would be 1.1°C (about 2 degrees Fahrenheit) for the century, Christy said. That would put the average global temperature change over 100 years well under the 2.0°C (3.6 degrees F) goal set recently at the climate change summit in Paris.”
December 18, 2015 6:13 PM
COP-21 (the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) concluded in Paris only one day late on Saturday, 12th December, with the adoption of a new climate treaty at 7:29 PM CET. The new “Paris Agreement,” as it is being called in order to conceal the fact that it is a treaty, represents a significant victory for President Barack Obama and the European Union. It is the result of several years of intensive negotiations that were initiated with the adoption of the Durban Platform at COP-21 in 2011. This “successful” outcome, so different from the collapse of COP-15 in 2009 in Copenhagen, was at the end made possible by the skill of the French diplomats, particularly French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who ran the final negotiations.
Many commentators immediately opined that the new treaty is of little consequence and poses few dangers to the global or U. S. economies. The most confident assertion (as well as detailed analysis) from conservative commentators that I have read that the Paris Agreement is a “welcome fizzle” was by Rich Lowry in National Review. I don’t agree with his analysis or conclusions. Although many issues remain to be worked out in future negotiations and decided at future COPs, the treaty poses multiple threats to the economy, and which together constitute a big step on the road to a global energy-rationing regime. I will write more about the treaty’s provisions in future articles in the Digest. For now, I will only note that, unlike the Kyoto Protocol, it is a perpetual agreement that includes automatic reviews of greenhouse gas emissions-reduction targets and timetables every five years.
December 18, 2015 6:12 PM
The House and Senate on 18th September passed omnibus appropriations legislation that provides $1.15 trillion to fund the federal government for the remainder of FY 2016. Attached to the omnibus was a $620-plus billion package of tax cut extenders. The final bill dropped riders to prevent implementation of the EPA’s greenhouse gas rules for new and existing power plants and to prevent funds in the State Department budget from being transferred into the Green Climate Fund. However, Congress appropriated no funds for the Green Climate Fund.
The tax extenders package includes multi-year re-authorizations for the Wind Production Tax Credit and the Solar Investment Tax Credit. The wind credit was extended to 2019, but declines by 20% for facilities that begin construction in 2017 and then 20% more each year thereafter. The credits will still apply to the first ten years of production for all wind facilities that start construction before 2020.
The solar credit remains at 30% of construction costs through 2019 and then declines to 23% in 2020, 22% in 2021, and 10% in 2022 for non-residential and third-party-owned residential installations. The credit for solar installations by homeowners drops to zero in 2022. The renewal of renewable energy subsidies shows that crony corporate welfare still flourishes in the Republican 114th Congress.
The omnibus package does include a provision that lifts the 42-year-old ban on crude oil exports. The U. S. is the only country in the world that bans crude oil exports.