Saturday, May 9, 2015

Last Call For Anarchy

The "We're taking our country back from you, using whatever means necessary" contingent of the country is quite upset, and now we have Charles Murray of the WSJ cal;ling for open lawlessness.

The broadest problem created by intricately wrought regulatory mazes is that, in an effort to spell out all the contingencies, they lose sight of the overall goal and thereby make matters worse. A particularly chilling example is offered by the 1979 Kemeny Commission’s postmortem on the Three Mile Island partial meltdown, which concluded that when “regulations become as voluminous and complex as those regulations now in place, they can serve as a negative factor in nuclear safety.”

I’ve been focusing on regulation in the workplace, but it isn’t just freedom to practice our vocations that is being gutted. Whether we are trying to raise our children, be good stewards of our property, cooperate with our neighbors to solve local problems or practice our religious faith, the bureaucrats think they know better. And when the targets of the regulatory state say they’ve had enough, that they will fight it in court, the bureaucrats can—and do—say to them, “Try that, and we’ll ruin you.”

That’s the regulatory state as seen from ground level by the individual citizens who run afoul of it. It looks completely different when we back off and look at it from a distance. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has authority over more than eight million workplaces. But it can call upon only one inspector for about every 3,700 of those workplaces. The Environmental Protection Agency has authority not just over workplaces but over every piece of property in the nation. It conducted about 18,000 inspections in 2013—a tiny number in proportion to its mandate.

Seen in this perspective, the regulatory state is the Wizard of Oz: fearsome when its booming voice is directed against any single target but, when the curtain is pulled aside, revealed as impotent to enforce its thousands of rules against widespread refusal to comply.

And so my modest proposal: Let’s withhold that compliance through systematic civil disobedience. Not for all regulations, but for the pointless, stupid and tyrannical ones.

Identifying precisely which regulations are pointless, stupid or tyrannical will be a lengthy process, but categories that should come under strict scrutiny include regulations that prescribe best practice for a craft or profession; restrict access to an occupation; prohibit owners of property from using it as they wish; prescribe hiring, firing and working conditions; and prevent people from taking voluntary risks.

So goodbye civil rights protections, laws fighting discrimination in the workplace, and allowing employers to do whatever they want to employees.  Let's take the country back to when white America ruled unchalleged and unbothered by equality and fairness.

The fact that Murray is allowed to do this is actually a pretty clear hint that everything he's spouting is wrong: if we really lived in the regulatory fascist hellhole he describes, Mr. Murray would no longer be employed, no longer a free man, possibly no longer with us on this Earth.

Funny how that works.


Horace Boothroyd III said...

Charles Murray? The "black people are stoopid and I can prove it with numbers and everything" guy unleashed upon an unsuspecting world by boy genius editor Andrew Sullivan?

Sign me right up! I know a thing or two about the regulation of power plants, the culture of the Meyers Briggs Superguardians who stand watch and resolve their differences in the gloom like enraged walruses: wrench in one hand and manual in the other. Those regulations are there for good reason, to keep those penny pinching cheap assed bastards from skimping on inspections like at Davis Besse and negligently killing us all.

Evidently nothing can not be hammered into your ideological predilections, if the pay is good or your hatred burns with the heat of a thousand desert suns. The kossacks have rewritten history to make Bill Clinton responsible for the Rust Belt, Teh Clenis being so powerful that a treaty taking effect in 1994 can reach back and cause the deindustrialization of the MidWest that was quite underway by 1976 - when nobody cared because the jobs sucked from the North were sent to the anti union South. Only when the next logical step sent those jobs overseas did the hysterical ninnies quit their whooping and start their whining.

So let us pull back the curtain, indeed, and if a certain liar for hire volunteers to leap into the volcano then who is the government to stop him? If people choose freely to steal bread and to sleep under bridges, let them exercise their free will in peace.

RepubAnon said...

It is true that regulations can be burdensome and hard to comply with. For example, those pesky regulations regarding making sure someone isn't in the machinery before turning it on:

The company, along with its former safety manager and director of plant operations, were each charged with three counts of willfully violating worker safety rules in a felony complaint filed on Monday by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

The case arose from an Oct. 11, 2012, accident that claimed the life of Jose Melena, 62, at the company's plant in Santa Fe Springs, California, east of Los Angeles.

Melena crawled into the 35-foot-long cylindrical oven as part of his duties, before co-workers, unaware he was still inside the apparatus, packed 12,000 pounds of canned tuna into the pressure cooker, closed the door and turned it on, prosecutors said.

Reuters, April 25, 2015: Bumble Bee and managers charged over pressure cooker death of worker

Complying with such regulations slows down production - let's just ignore them!

I'd agree that regulators need to think in terms of setting up "safe harbor" provisions, and otherwise making it easier for people to comply with regulations. Indeed, once regulations reach a certain level of complexity, obeying one regulation can mean violating a different one. The solution is to give the regulatory agencies enough resources to do their jobs - which oddly enough was absent from Charles Murray's article. Mr. Murray's theory seems to be "Now that government is small enough to drown in a bathtub, let's proceed to do so!"

Funny, I expect the Wall Street Journal would take a dim view of anyone deciding to violate its internal workplace policies regulating company behavior. This puts me in mind of Aesop's fable about King Stork replacing King Log. Ignoring federal safety standards and replacing them with those of individual employers means replacing an elected government with rule by an unelected set of John Galt-inspired corporate raiders. Had the Bumblebee Tuna employee survived his company's decision to ignore federal safety rules on lock-out-tag-out, he might have disagreed with Mr. Murray.

reason60 said...

Whenever I hear the "too many regulations" argument I am reminded of the scene in Amadeus- "that music has too many notes!"

Which regulations. Mr, Murray?

What most conservatives don't bother to acknowledge is that the vast majority of regulations are things they like and benefit from.
Land use regulations- defining what property is, how it is transferred, split, developed, serviced- these all directly benefit those who own real estate. Business and contract regulations, patents, civil law- all these things are regulations that benefit the propertied and wealthy.

The real answer is Mr. Murray wants to remove regulations that inconvenience him, and him alone. The ones that benefit him he will fight tooth and nail to preserve.

Yastreblyansky said...

As you might expect, Murray is lying when he suggests the Three Mile island disaster was made worse by excessive regulation: Rather, it was lack of compliance by the industry.

The U.S. House of Representatives committee examining reporting information during the accident concluded:

The record indicates that in reporting to State and federal officials on March 28, 1979, TMI managers did not communicate information in their possession that they understood to be related to the severity of the situation. The lack of such information prevented State and federal officials from accurately assessing the condition of the plant.

In addition, the record indicates that TMI managers presented State and federal officials misleading statements (i.e. statements that were inaccurate and incomplete) that conveyed the impression the accident was substantially less severe and the situation more under control than what the managers themselves believed and what was in fact the case.

These findings were similar to conclusions drawn by the Kemeny Commission on October 30, 1979. The Commission was appointed by President Jimmy Carter and found human error, institutional weaknesses and mechanical failures caused the TMI accident.

West_of_the_Cascades said...

I plan to find Mr. Murray and protest regulations excluding me from an occupation as a neurosurgeon by seeing if he'll let me cut his head open. Why should some red tape stop me from operating on his brain??

SigDeFlyinMonky said...

Google "Texas crane accidents."

Dupe1970 said...

Unregulated free market = Bhopal

TG_Chicago said...

"The real answer is Mr. Murray wants to remove regulations that inconvenience him, and him alone."

I actually slightly disagree with this. To me, when a conservative/libertarian complains about "regulations" without specifics, they're just railing on a talking point they've heard. They don't even know what they're talking about. It just sounds Liberalish and Big Government and Obama is a Soshulist, and yeah, I hate regulations!!!

The point where Murray admits he's just shouting at clouds is the clause right before Zandar's bolding: "Identifying precisely which regulations are pointless, stupid or tyrannical will be a lengthy process..." So he hasn't even identified precisely what the problem is. He just KNOWS it's out there.

He has no idea what he's talking about. He just heard some smarter-sounding winger (like Krauthammer, for instance) say regulations are bad, and he's regurgitating it.

The thing is: I imagine many folks on the left (including me) are open-minded about the idea of simplifying regulations where they are too complex or removing them where they are ineffective. I strongly suspect there are indeed some bad regulations out there. But unless you come at me with something specific, you're not going to win me over.

But then, actually changing regulations wasn't really the point of this article. The point was to try to sound smart while saying "Obummer is evil!"

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