by Michael Barone • Washington Examiner
“Twentieth-century technology,” writes economic historian Joel Mokyr in the Manhattan Institute’s excellent City Journal, “was primarily about ‘large’ things.”
Large in physical size, that is. Mokyr’s examples include the diesel engine and the gas turbine, shipping containers, communications satellites launched by giant rockets, oil-drilling platforms, massive power stations, giant steel mills and huge airplanes.
Most are familiar sights today, but if we try to see them with the eyes of someone in 1914, they are awe-inspiring. This summer, I drove past the ruins of Henry Ford’s Highland Park plant, the largest manufacturing plant in the world when it opened in 1910. There, Ford set up the first auto assembly line and in 1914, the same year Europe went to war, started paying his workers $5 a day. Continue reading
I recently had a conversation with an intensely conservative businessman whose first foray into politics was fighting for a tax hike on his business and others like it. The little town where he lived as a young man had no paved roads, waterworks, or sewage facilities, and the men who had the most invested in the town knew that it needed these to grow, which of course it did. That’s part of what Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren are referring to with their “you didn’t build that” rhetoric, though they draw the wrong conclusions. They are also sometimes wrong in the specifics, too: The gentleman I was speaking with organized a few other businessmen to install streetlights at their own expense, with the understanding that the town fathers would pay them back when they could afford it. If you’re looking for an example of how small government is good government, a handshake deal to put in streetlights is a pretty good one. That is government at a scale that people can control, manage — and keep an eye on. Continue reading
Outrageous, but candid.
“There is a vast amount of discretion that a president has — and more specifically that an attorney general has,” Holder told the House Judiciary Committee. “But that discretion has to be used in an appropriate way so that you’re acting consistent with the aims of the statute but at the same time making sure that you are acting in a way that is consistent with our values, consistent with the Constitution and protecting the American people.” Continue reading
Since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, he has changed it five times. Most notably, he suspended the employer mandate last summer. This is widely known, but almost no one seems to have grasped its significance.
The Constitution authorizes the President to propose and veto legislation. It does not authorize him to change existing laws. The changes Mr. Obama ordered in Obamacare, therefore, are unconstitutional. This means that he does not accept some of the limitations that the Constitution places on his actions. We cannot know at this point what limitations, if any, he does accept.
By changing the law based solely on his wish, Mr. Obama acted on the principle that the President can rewrite laws and—since this is a principle—not just this law, but any law. Continue reading
When I entered Congress, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution, and I have followed through on that promise. The political elites of both parties don’t like what I’m doing. They have a vision of government that is very different from the vision laid out in the Constitution. As the elites see it, the American people are their subjects, and a benevolent privileged few—standing above the law—must watch over the rest of society.
History and logic show us that no matter how “good” the leaders are, unrestrained government invites corruption and cronyism. On the whole, government power always benefits the wealthy and well-connected at the expense of others. Some of the reasons are just common sense. It costs a lot of money to lobby Washington. Even the best-intentioned government official cannot sort out what’s right when he spends most of his time hobnobbing with one percent of society.
Wherever government power has proliferated, societies have become poorer, crueler, and less productive. The extreme examples are found in Communist states, but we need not look that far. Europe is wracked by economic chaos and civil strife because decades of big government bred dependence, resentment, and division among its peoples. In my own state of Michigan, bankrupt Detroit is a victim of the corruption and failed incentives that accompany too much government. Continue reading
Democrats strong-armed Obamacare into law three years ago. Now they’re busy flouting it.
The mandate that employers provide insurance next year or pay a penalty, as the law requires? Delayed for at least a year.
The law’s dictate that people applying for federal subsidies to buy insurance provide proof that they’re eligible for the government aid? Scaled back.
Sharp limits on Americans’ out-of-pocket costs for health care? Suspended for a year.
Providing members of Congress and more than 10,000 staff members with federal health care subsidies that the law does not allow? Done, via a deal brokered by President Barack Obama.
And on and on. Continue reading
As a reaction to the crack epidemic of the 1980s, many federal drug laws carry strict mandatory sentences. This has stirred unease in Congress and sparked a bipartisan effort to revise and relax some of the more draconian laws.
Traditionally — meaning before Barack Obama — that’s how laws were changed: We have a problem, we hold hearings, we find some new arrangement ratified by Congress and signed by the president.
That was then. Continue reading
There are now 175,000 pages’ worth of federal laws. Local governments add more.
I’m not so cynical that I think politicians pass laws just to control us. Someone always thinks: “This law is needed. This will protect people.”
But the cumulative effect of so many rules is to strangle life.
Yet lawyers like George Washington Law professor John Banzhaf want more rules. Continue reading
Regulation: No longer the stuff of science fiction, a little-noticed change in energy-efficiency requirements for appliances could lead to government controlling the power used in your home and how you set your thermostat.
In a seemingly innocuous revision of its Energy Star efficiency requirements announced June 27, the Environmental Protection Agency included an “optional” requirement for a “smart-grid” connection for customers to electronically connect their refrigerators or freezers with a utility provider.
The feature lets the utility provider regulate the appliances’ power consumption, “including curtailing operations during more expensive peak-demand times.” Continue reading
“It is eerily ironic that only days after Obama told students to reject the voices that warn of government abuses and overreaching, it turns out that the Obama Administration has been systematically abusing the constitutional rights of so many Americans.”
by George Landrith
When President Barack Obama recently spoke at Ohio State’s commencement, he told the graduates to reject voices that express concerns about government abuses. He mocked the idea that reasonable, thinking Americans might be concerned that government can become too big, too unaccountable, and too heavy-handed.
Obama’s directive to ignore those concerned with potential abuses of big government was stunning for at least two reasons. First, it is as American as apple pie and baseball to be wary of the promises of government officials and the abuse of power. Second, within a week, several Obama Administration scandals had broken wide-open – each proving that those concerned about government tyranny were right. Continue reading
Although there’s still a great deal to be learned about the scandals and controversies swirling around the White House like so many ominous dorsal fins in the surf, the nature of President Obama’s bind is becoming clear. The best defenses of his administration require undermining the rationale for his presidency.
“We’re portrayed by Republicans as either being lying or idiots. It’s actually closer to us being idiots.” So far, this is the administration’s best defense.
Americans are migrating from less-free liberal states to more-free conservative states, where they are doing better economically, according to a new study published Thursday by George Mason University’s Mercatus Center.
The “Freedom in the 50 States” study measured economic and personal freedom using a wide range of criteria, including tax rates, government spending and debt, regulatory burdens, and state laws covering land use, union organizing, gun control, education choice and more.
It found that the freest states tended to be conservative “red” states, while the least free were liberal “blue” states. Continue reading
Sometimes, Barack Obama acts like the Constitution does not apply to him and the Congress is an imaginary being. Friday, the United States Court of Appeals brought the president back to Earth and reminded him that that the Constitution’s Appointments Clause and the U.S. Senate are very much part of reality by voiding three of Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board.
The D.C. Circuit ruled that the president could not end-run the confirmation process merely because at the beginning of 2012 the U.S. Senate was meeting every three business days in, what lawyers call, pro forma session. Oh, and during that pro forma session the Senate was also busy passing the payroll tax extension. Some pro forma session. Continue reading
“The American sound . . . is hopeful, big-hearted, idealistic, daring, decent, and fair.”
by Scott L. Vanatter
One-term presidents rarely are considered our most successful presidents. Getting re-elected is not in and of itself an indicator of a successful second term. Of course, the more successful the first term, the more likely the success of a second.
During his second term Reagan built on the real economic accomplishment of his first. This success enabled him to ensure our freedoms and secure our defense. This freedom, then, spread around the world. Indeed, America became again the last best hope of earth. Continue reading
by George Landrith
With a long history of federal overspending and the recent explosion of more federal debt, it is obvious that the federal budget must be cut back to a reasonable size. We need an intervention. But the Budget Control Act — which would force an “automatic sequester” of $500 billion in across-the-board defense spending cuts over the next decade, in addition to the $487 billion in defense cuts already scheduled — is not a good solution to our spending crisis. Continue reading