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 matchlight
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 26
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What is wrong this generation of people?Page 2 of 5    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
I think you just make it a point to cultivate and use those things, and when you have a discussion with someone who doesn't, hold their feet to the fire. You may be able to make them respond rationally. And if they're honest, they may admit you've made some good points and say they'd like to learn more. I know it's tempting to ignore these people, but if no one challenges irrationality, it tends to spread. It's like ivy--you have to keep chopping at it, or it'll take over your yard.

But suppose someone just gets angry, or acts like you're attacking their religious beliefs, and refuses even to consider what you're saying. That works, too, because if they do that, they're showing everyone else they can't reasonably respond to your point. Why do you think lawyers in court like to make witnesses hesitate, get mad, contradict themselves, and so on, if not to make the jury suspect what they're saying's not true?
 AceOfSpace
Joined: 5/28/2007
Msg: 27
What is wrong this generation of people?
Posted: 12/5/2009 5:44:44 PM
Match,

Glad to hear you've upped your game but I was never competing with you and I'm certainly not ducking you in particular. We've had good exchanges and when you have made good points, I have generally acknowledged them. I posted in this thread because I wanted to--I don't spend much time here these days and that item caught my eye.

We have different perspectives and I respect yours. My main problem with hard-line conservatism is that it's your way or the highway. I have no idea what you're talking about WRT intellectual honesty, but if you're implying that it's something I lack you really ought to look in the mirror. Nothing could better illustrate my point about the fundamental sense of superiority and disrespect among conservatives for others with different views than the tack you just took with me.

If you've lumped me in with the subversives because I recognize a difference between protective force and its proper use and the application of violence "because we can," then I guess that's how you see me. So be it. If you're just baiting me out, perhaps you can understand my reasons for wanting to spend less time here of late. It was fun for a while, but now it's gotten tedious. Whatever it was I thought I could prove by engaging in hostile debate has either been proven already is no longer relevant.

I do wish you all happy holidays and peace of mind in this crazy world!
 matchlight
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 28
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What is wrong this generation of people?
Posted: 12/5/2009 6:07:57 PM
Ace, I was kidding you! Almost nothing of what I said is true--just a put-on about how I'd become unbeatable by just citing nonsense and forgetting about the truth. It was a poke at what I see a lot of--here and elsewhere--but I certainly never had you in mind. You're one of the few people here who made it a point to be intellectually honest. I never saw you claim things were true or logical when you knew--or should have known--better.

I thought the bit about getting my info from blogs by paranoid terrorists living in the desert in trailers was far enough over the top to show I had my tongue in my cheek. But maybe you already think that's where I come up with most of my "facts." Sorry my attempt at humor missed the mark!
 matchlight
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 29
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What is wrong this generation of people?
Posted: 12/5/2009 10:48:23 PM
Not a bad idea. Now he's all offended, and I thought he'd get a laugh out of my little satire. He must have been hanging out with too many serious people.
 AceOfSpace
Joined: 5/28/2007
Msg: 30
What is wrong this generation of people?
Posted: 12/6/2009 12:07:56 AM
OK Match, no worries.

Apparently my irony detector is just a bit frayed from all those others who say such things and mean them.
 Gogetter56
Joined: 9/27/2008
Msg: 31
What is wrong this generation of people?
Posted: 12/6/2009 9:56:08 AM
ACE, my experience with corporal punishment while growing up was much different than yours, so I personally have a hard time believing the data you presented is accurate. I received corporal punishment and usually excelled in school. When I did have a problem it was usually a result of boredom.

With my kids I rarely had to use corporal punishment because they remembered I did do it and the threat was usually enough. If I'm in the minority on that, oh well. All I know is when it is done right, it works better than anything else I've tried and I've tried plenty of other things too. It's the quickest and most efficient way to get and maintain control. My kids didn't scream and cry and carry on in public places or run all over the place like so many do today. They excelled in school and now they excel at their jobs. That's not bragging, that's the troof :-D
 AceOfSpace
Joined: 5/28/2007
Msg: 32
What is wrong this generation of people?
Posted: 12/7/2009 9:01:11 AM

Respect for authority is a lost virtue in our society and it starts at home.


Well GG and Boomer, I can't argue with your results, but what about all those people who take out their anger on their kids and then shout about parental rights when anyone can see that thier kids are being terrrorized?

Respect for legitimate authority can be destroyed in two ways: by leniency, and by abuse. Given the level of selfishness and cluelessness we appear to be dealing with out there, I'm loathe to give parents the idea that they have any right to hit their kids at all.

Personally, when I think about the risks I am very glad that I didn't have any children. Maybe I was just a coward, and maybe my kids might have turned out just fine, but the only thing worse than making a mess of my own life would have been messing up the lives of my children. As far as I can tell, nobody is entitled to do that. For me, it wasn't worth the risk.

So, where does someone turn if they're feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility? In our rugged individualistic, single-family isolationist culture, who could I ask? And how could I be assured that those people were any less clueless than me?

No wonder we're so effing selfish! We have enshined selfishness in the physical layout of our lives.

It wasn't until the '80s that it was socially acceptable to admit you needed help with something and join a self-help group. God bless John Bradshaw for getting the word out about alcoholism, codependence, and 12-step groups. Say what you will about them, they have helped a lot of people and have also opened the door to other self-help groups for any situation you can name.

When we enshrine the values of competition with each other, and vastly reward the people who are willing to get ahead at the expense of others regardless of the damage they do to other individuals and/or the systems that support us all, what sort of values can we expect young people to learn?

All things considered, I have no qualms about taxing the rich, just as I have no issues with people making and keeping a profit that is proportional to the actual value that they personally add.
 matchlight
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 33
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What is wrong this generation of people?
Posted: 12/7/2009 11:17:09 AM
I'm not sure why it's assumed that when someone gets ahead, he does it at someone else's expense. Total wealth can and does increase when people make advances. If a guy wants to sit in his garage until all hours working out the details of some discovery he's made, absentmindedly gnawing on a peanut butter sandwich every few hours to keep body and soul together, who else is he harming? If he turns out to be another Edison, or the equivalent, he'll probably get rich. But he won't be the only one--whatever he came up with will make us all better off. It's that fact that gives it value, which he profits from creating.
 AceOfSpace
Joined: 5/28/2007
Msg: 34
What is wrong this generation of people?
Posted: 12/7/2009 5:42:05 PM
The FREE enterprise system is what made America what it is today. Competition! Competition! Competition to build a better mouse trap, make a better toaster, build a better car or a niftier laptop. And to be able to make and KEEP a profit as a reward for taking the risk and achieving your goal.

With OSHA, the EPA and the myriad of other regulations imposed on businesses in the past few years, it is rare for a business to "get away with doing damage to the rest of us without any consequences. " Businesses have been so ham stringed with taxes and federal regulation that they CANNOT compete in a free market. The free enterprise system has been strangled and we all are suffering with the impact and the cost. A major contributor to our outrageous inflation is government regulation of business.


Over the years I have watched contracts for home purchases get longer and longer. Why? Because buyers, sellers, and agents have all found clever ways to rip each other off.

Apparently, competition for some means seeing how much they can get away with. It is that sort of unprincipled competition that gave rise to the need for agencies such as OSHA and the EPA. Hey, if we can get the taxpayers to pay for the cleanup of our toxic sludge, and if they'll pay the medical costs for our injured workers too, we can put that money in the bank and call it our own. Oh, and BTW, we'll put it offshore in secret accounts so we won't have to pay our fair share of taxes. And hey, if we can bundle enough bad loans in with our portfolios and sell them at full value on the secondary market, why shouldn't we?

Competition to get it right is one thing. I'm all for it. But when that's not what's happening, I'm all for whatever degree of regulation is necessary to focus people on the idea that adding value through honest competition is the only means of truly getting ahead.


And, Ace, just WHO is going to decide what that "actual value" really is? You? Some bureaucratic agency? Chairman Mao? President Obama? And how much exactly is an "equitable PROPORTION"? GOODBYE Capitalism and HELLO Socialism!


Everyone from the director level down is given a 360-degree performance review these days. Those reviews determine the amount of next year's compensation. I'm fine with extending that system all the way up to the CEO and board-member level. Those evaluating their performance should include major customers, major regulators, major consumer groups, and major representatives of labor. When people in those positions are held accountable in the same way as those down the line, we'll be a lot closer to a sustainable form of capitalism than we are right now. Unchecked, market forces lead to positive feedback loops that cause economies to explode and then collapse in a heap. What is it that drives this erratic behavior in an economic system? Unrestrained selfishness, the lack of accountability, and the lack of appropriate and timely consequences for those at the CEO and board-member level.

You cannot both ensrhine selfishness at the top and decry it at the bottom. Our kids are just emulating what they see as working for those at the top. Adam Smith did not describe the cause of accumulated wealth as "unbridled selfishness." He termed it, "enlightened self interest." If you disagree with my view that there needs to be appropriate regulation in any economy, perhaps you can tell me what he meant by "enlightened" and how he expected that quality to magically appear in a population that, by your own admission, currently lacks it?

We presume perfidy on the part of politicians and designed our political system to keep it in check. Why should we not presume the same for our businessmen and design an economic system that keeps it in check there as well. And no, I'm not talking about socialism. I'm talking about checks and balances. That's why I'm a liberal and not a socialist. All socialism does is move the problem. It doesn't solve it. But neither does uncritical allegience to the ideology of Capitalism. If Capitalism worked as advertised, we'd all be rich by now, and we'd all be grateful to one another for the value each adds.

If that's not what you're observing out there, don't look askance at me for proposing alternatives, and don't lump all the alternatives in the "socialist" category. That is the same sort of ideological orthodoxy that drove the Soviet Union into the ground.
 matchlight
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 35
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What is wrong this generation of people?
Posted: 12/7/2009 7:01:27 PM

It is that sort of unprincipled competition that gave rise to the need for agencies such as OSHA and the EPA.


I don't know about OSHA, but Congress created the EPA to administer the new environmental laws it had just enacted. As I think you know, I'm opposed to all the major federal environmental laws as they now stand. They're not only an inexcusable intrusion on private property rights, but they're so far-reaching the U.S. can't even begin to enforce them.

As to the topic of what's wrong with this generation, I think the decline in the quality of public schools has a lot to do with it. We've developed too many indoctrinated people who are lacking both common sense and a lot of basic facts. That makes them prone to fall for all kinds of irrational nonsense. (If I were a cynic, which of course I'm not, I'd say that was how we ended up with an anti-American Marxist as president.) Some are even proud of being ignorant and irrational, believing, like the book said, that everything they needed to know they knew in kindergarten. That's just what Nazi Germany was about--celebrating emotion and scorning reason.
 matchlight
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 36
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What is wrong this generation of people?
Posted: 12/7/2009 8:28:32 PM

and especially those who cite intelligence in the same sentence as they call our President an "anti-American Marxist"


You mean he's *not* an anti-American Marxist? I would have thought it was obvious by now. Actually, I usually call him far worse than that. But I realize people who don't think much of this country themselves don't mind seeing a fellow America-hater destroy it.

And Carlisle, I agree that you should watch out for those lame over-intellectualizations--whatever they are.
 AceOfSpace
Joined: 5/28/2007
Msg: 37
What is wrong this generation of people?
Posted: 12/7/2009 9:17:54 PM
I don't know about OSHA, but Congress created the EPA to administer the new environmental laws it had just enacted. As I think you know, I'm opposed to all the major federal environmental laws as they now stand. They're not only an inexcusable intrusion on private property rights, but they're so far-reaching the U.S. can't even begin to enforce them.


I see the private degradation of the environment as a form of fraud. It allows someone to avoid listing the costs of their operations on their P&Ls, and worse, avoid paying them. When such fraud is carried out in the course of interstate commerce, it comes under the federal purview. If the sulfur dioxide from a power plant drifts across state lines, who else can enforce regulations that keep unwitting third parties from damages resulting from preventable acid rain?


As to the topic of what's wrong with this generation, I think the decline in the quality of public schools has a lot to do with it. We've developed too many indoctrinated people who are lacking both common sense and a lot of basic facts. That makes them prone to fall for all kinds of irrational nonsense.


You mean like ... the invisible hand? There are two flavors of nonfactual nonsense being bandied about long about now. Amidst all the shouting in favor of one over the other, there's very little bandwidth left for thoughtful discussion of reasonable alternatives.
 Gogetter56
Joined: 9/27/2008
Msg: 38
What is wrong this generation of people?
Posted: 12/7/2009 9:30:46 PM
BTW ACE, what is it to you if someone else is selfish or greedy? That only leaves a bigger chance for honest people to shine. It was complete over regulation that took away my contractor's license and believe it or not, I am one of those honest people.
 matchlight
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 39
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What is wrong this generation of people?
Posted: 12/7/2009 9:58:00 PM
^^^^^That's sort of a novel take on Adam Smith. During the 200-plus years since Wealth of Nations appeared, most people who've understood the ideas in it haven't considered them irrational nonsense.

BTW, what U.S. electric plants these days are putting out significant amounts of sulfur dioxide? I don't believe the Clean Air Act forced operators to adopt that technology. The states also have agencies that keep the air and water clean. I keep trying to understand how L.A. smog is a legitimate federal concern.

I think all the major federal environmental laws should be repealed--not one of them has been worth what it's cost. Most of them were responses to public emotions, rather than reason. Their biggest accomplishment has been to create a new industry of paper pushers--testing companies, lawyers, bureaucrats. Strictly overhead--none of it helps us live better. Just the opposite. Like all these wet dreams of mediocre minds, the environmental empire is an extremely expensive feel-good fantasy that costs jobs, decreases productivity, and erodes personal liberties, while not doing much good.
 AceOfSpace
Joined: 5/28/2007
Msg: 40
What is wrong this generation of people?
Posted: 12/8/2009 7:05:48 AM
BTW ACE, what is it to you if someone else is selfish or greedy? That only leaves a bigger chance for honest people to shine.


I think this is somewhat naive. Would be nice though.

I do hear you about over-regulation. Striking the balance isn't always easy. And we do need to be careful about special interests writing anticompetitive advantages into law--such as the exemption from antitrust laws for health-care insurers. How come y'all aren't screaming about that?
 AceOfSpace
Joined: 5/28/2007
Msg: 41
What is wrong this generation of people?
Posted: 12/8/2009 7:19:24 AM
BTW, what U.S. electric plants these days are putting out significant amounts of sulfur dioxide?


How many of them still would be if they weren't required to scrub their discharges? When such measures are voluntary, those who spend money on the technology are put at a competitive disadvantage WRT those who don't. Hence the need for standard regulation. Can it be overdone? Of course it can. But so can unrestrained competition.

Again, I'm not against competition as long as it rewards the creation of added value. But without adequate regulation, unbridled competition rewards perfidy more often than not.


I think all the major federal environmental laws should be repealed--not one of them has been worth what it's cost. Most of them were responses to public emotions, rather than reason.


Yes, people do tend to get emotional about it when they discover their property or interests are being degraded by the acts of others. The question is not whether or not they are being rational. They don't have to be rational about their rights or their access to our common legacy. The cops don't help us live better either. Prisons are strictly overhead. The question is: how much of that actually is necessary to protect individual rights from unfair competition or criminal practices?

If you answer, "none," it is not necessarily those calling for appropriate regulation who are being unreasonable.
 AceOfSpace
Joined: 5/28/2007
Msg: 42
What is wrong this generation of people?
Posted: 12/8/2009 7:48:09 AM

^^^^^That's sort of a novel take on Adam Smith. During the 200-plus years since Wealth of Nations appeared, most people who've understood the ideas in it haven't considered them irrational nonsense.


The price-setting mechanism of supply and demand within a free and open market that includes an adequate number of buyers and sellers such that no one player or group can exert undue influence is well understood and valid. Applying that model to situations where those conditions do not apply (such as when there are few suppliers or purchasers, or in third-party transactions where the buyer is not the consumer or the seller is not the one paying the costs) is irrational nonsense.

But hey, if it feels better to us to chant "let the markets rule" than to think things through and respond appropriately to actual conditions, we can't really expect young people who watch us to have a whole lot of respect for our advice.

When there actually is a market, I say let it rule. But first, let's check to see if the conditions of the model are satisfied. If they are not, we need to restructure the conditions to fit the model or apply another model that fits the conditions. There are other alternative models besides "Capitalism," and "Socialism." One such model is the private regulated monopoly, which has served us well in many instances. Others include tweaks to capitalism that provide greater accountability at the top. But, if all you can see is the golden idol of unfettered Capitalism vs. the slippery slope to Socialism, you're simply being ridiculous.
 matchlight
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 43
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What is wrong this generation of people?
Posted: 12/8/2009 12:20:09 PM

Yes, people do tend to get emotional about it when they discover their property or interests are being degraded by the acts of others.


You're assuming that was why Congress enacted these laws, but I don't think the facts warrant that assumption. CERCLA is the best example of the irrationality I'm talking about. The pollution of the Love Canal near Buffalo received a lot of lurid, overblown press coverage, and as usual, the gullible took the bait. Before long, it seemed like everyone in Congress was trying to appear more concerned about this issue than the next one.

Infected by the fatal urge to "do something," and determined to show their constituents they were "greener than thou," a number of them rushed to draft a law. No, it wasn't enough to let New York to fix the problem. This terrible menace must never be allowed to crop up again, anywhere in the U.S.

And so we ended up with an incoherent, internally inconsistent monstrosity of a federal law. It should have been repealed long ago, just as awful, unreasoned Supreme Court blunders like Miranda and Roe should long ago have been overruled. But like them, the longer CERCLA was allowed to live, the more likely it was to live even longer. And it's been a money pit.

Thirty years on, the list of sites the Act's "Superfund" was to pay for EPA to clean up has only been dented. It will never be finished. And about a fourth of the billions spent on the "problem" has gone to lawyers' fees. The hazards that have been corrected weren't even close to being serious enough to justify the fantastic expense. And as I said, studies have shown the same is true of all the major federal environmental laws.

It's ironic that you mention environmental pollution as degrading other people's property or interests. The laws intended to control that pollution have done far more to degrade the liberty interests and property rights of all 300 million of us. All social planning is sort of a pink endeavor, and in the U.S., federal government planning intended to protect natural resources has been more anti-democratic and overbearing than most people have any idea of. It's largely because a clean environment sounds so wonderful that people have tolerated the violation of their wallets and their personal liberties that efforts to achieve it have caused.
 AceOfSpace
Joined: 5/28/2007
Msg: 44
What is wrong this generation of people?
Posted: 12/8/2009 1:30:53 PM
And so we ended up with an incoherent, internally inconsistent monstrosity of a federal law. It should have been repealed long ago ... All social planning is sort of a pink endeavor, and in the U.S., federal government planning intended to protect natural resources has been more anti-democratic and overbearing than most people have any idea of.


Here again, it's the all-or-nothing mindset that I find irrational. If you repeal those laws and don't replace them, all of the protective measures that safeguard third parties will be scrapped because they cost money. If too much protection is now being mandated for no good reason, what level of protection is appropriate? "None" is simply the wrong answer and you know it.

Your position is just as bad as that of the Luddites who don't want the desert disturbed by new solar-electricity generation facilities. You would put the health and prosperity of current and future generations at risk to further your ideology. Federal regulation is appropriate when business operations have effects that cross state boundaries, or when businesses cannot operate under a patchwork of differing state regulations.

You might favor the patchwork and be able to rest your argument on the enumerated powers doctrine. That is a respectable position. But, it might not be a practical one when it comes down to specific cases. Congress can assert federal jurisdiction in such cases under the interstate commerce clause.
 matchlight
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 45
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What is wrong this generation of people?
Posted: 12/8/2009 4:35:04 PM
Somehow we got along before CERCLA was enacted, just as we got along before there was an EPA, or a WIC program, or a separate Department of Education. I don't see why repealing a bad law leaves us with "nothing." There were quite a few state and federal laws protecting natural resources long before 1970. The Clean Water Act, for example, wasn't really a completely new law. It was a very extensive revision and expansion of the Clean Water Act of 1948. U.S. waters were also protected by the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. The RHA was working just fine even in the mid-1960's.

I had to research this stuff in detail as background for an article on a federal case involving the section of the CWA that covers dredging. These laws are like phone books--they take up whole volumes of the Federal Code, and the regulations for them do the same with the Code of Federal Regulations. They use up all the numerals and letters in the standard outline system. You often see things like: section 4903.7(d)(5)B(iii). The more I pored over the Congressional Record, old law review articles, books, etc., in some sub-basement of the library, the more I realized what a political nature these laws had. As with CERCLA, the CWA was as much a creature of emotion and highly colored (and inaccurate) news stories, as it was a reasoned response to a problem everyone acknowledged.

Once these laws are established, though, along with the agencies to enforce them, we need lawyers to advise landowners what they can and can't do, testing companies to take core samples using the method agency regulations prescribe, and on and on. And all these tens of thousands of people come to rely on their jobs, so they become a political force resisting any attempt to trim things back--let alone dissolve the whole enterprise. On the railroads, preserving jobs that weren't worthwhile was called "featherbedding." No one's as good at it as federal bureaucrats. They infringe our freedoms every day, and since none of them is elected, we can't even vote them out.

But I realize the arbitrary exercise of power, which violates the whole spirit of the Constitution, probably bothers me more than most people. The way I learned it, we were *supposed* to be jealous of our freedoms, and distrustful of any attempt by a government to limit them. I guess all that concern for individual freedom is probably unnecessary, though. Surely all these government actions are for the good of all of us, and we should welcome whatever minor loss of freedom each one involves. Of course, all those losses add up, but we'll get used to them.

I'm more than willing to risk the health and prosperity of future generations, when a measure that's supposed to preserve them imposes unreasonable costs on people today. At what point do incremental improvements become absurdly expensive? Why don't we make all ships out of stainless steel, for example, so they'd never rust? Why don't we make electric wire out of silver? After all, it's a slightly better conductor than copper. And if it makes highway travel safer to lower the speed limit to 55, why stop there? Shouldn't we lower it to, say, 20, 0r 15, to save even more lives? Who cares how many billions a year it costs the country in lost productivity?

You mentioned the Commerce Clause. It's not as clear as you suggest that it authorizes federal control where state regulations differ. There are a lot of Supreme Court decisions on just that question, and they break both ways. As for effects that cross state boundaries, I suppose that can be stretched to fit anything, now that Ms. Sotomayor (that tower of intellect) is on the Court. Where our federal government needs to have power over us, we can always (with the Court's help, of course) find a way to get it that power. That puts an ironic new twist on old Abe's "government *of* the people," certainly--but he's dead, and this is now.

A type of bird might live near a puddle that formed in someone's parking lot when it rained. And a smudge of some EPA-listed pollutant in the runoff from the turf nearby might have entered that puddle. Maybe we could detect it, with fine enough equipment. What if that bird did live near the puddle, splashed in it, flew a hundred miles, and crossed into the next state? No bird like it's ever been known to fly more than ninety miles, but this one could be an outlier. Couldn't the puddle be considered a "seasonal water of the United States," now that the bird had transfered a drop or so of the water in it, and a few molecules of the pollutant it contained, into the next state? The bird could easily have splashed in a stream while it was there, and gotten some microscopic amount of the pollutant into that stream!

If you think that's far-fetched, I can show you real cases that are just as ridiculous--but that doesn't mean some court won't buy the sophistry.
 AceOfSpace
Joined: 5/28/2007
Msg: 46
What is wrong this generation of people?
Posted: 12/8/2009 8:09:26 PM

The more I pored over the Congressional Record, old law review articles, books, etc., in some sub-basement of the library, the more I realized what a political nature these laws had. As with CERCLA, the CWA was as much a creature of emotion and highly colored (and inaccurate) news stories, as it was a reasoned response to a problem everyone acknowledged.


If you were proposing a more rational rewrite that would achieve the reasonable ends of protecting the property rights of third parties (including future generations), I'd be right the with you. But that's not what you're doing. You're throwing out the baby with the bathwater and being just as political about it as those you decry.

I for one would love to see a positive application of your hard-won expertise toward reasonable reform.
 matchlight
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 47
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What is wrong this generation of people?
Posted: 12/8/2009 8:50:10 PM
I don't know how I'm being political, at all. I'm opposed to the abuse of government power--which is exactly what all this is. I'm not a conservative because I hope to gain some favor from some captain of industry--I don't know any. It's simple. All these seemingly noble undertakings by the federal government pave the way to tyranny, and that's more than enough reason for me to hate them.

They are insults to a great country and its unique, beautiful Constitution, usually cooked up by sorry third-raters who are addicted to meddling in other people's lives. To them, it hardly matters *what* they're doing, as long as they're doing *something.* It's the fascist urge to act, for the sake of action. It has no place in America, and I mean to fight it in any way I can. I'll feel slightly better after the lying Marxist who's doing all he can--purposely--to wreck this country and sell it out to its enemies, is crippled next fall.
 AceOfSpace
Joined: 5/28/2007
Msg: 48
What is wrong this generation of people?
Posted: 12/8/2009 9:02:07 PM

I'm opposed to the abuse of government power--which is exactly what all this is.


No not all. That statement and the dismissive attitude behind it is exactly where your politics lies to you.
 matchlight
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 49
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What is wrong this generation of people?
Posted: 12/8/2009 11:16:53 PM
^^^^I guess we just disagree on this. You can call it politics if you want, although I don't usually use that term to describe someone's convictions about the proper role of government. I was giving my conclusion about federal environmental laws, from what I know about them, and the constitutional authority (or lack of it) for them.

You can also call my condemnation of what I see as a gross and dangerous abuse of power "dismissive," if you want. If by that you mean I'm dismissing its legitimacy, you're right. Some environmental law is desirable, but today states could do most of the job. And where rivers run through more than one state, air pollutants cross state lines, or harbors, or tourism, or fisheries are involved, there probably needs to be some federal regulation.

But what has developed during the last forty years is a boondoggle that continues to funnel billions of dollars down a rathole. It's also an arrogant power grab by some very undemocratic people. I think a lot of what's done in the name of the environment is unconstitutional. I guess you know that after the first few years of the Clean Air and Water Acts, Congress was forced to make major revisions to the way they were to be enforced, because EPA wasn't able to do the job. So they turned to the "viceroy" system used today, in which the states develop their own plans to enforce these Acts.

After EPA is satisfied that a state's plan will carry out the purpose of the Act, the state takes over enforcement of it. If it falls down on the job, EPA can cut off related federal funds (e.g. freeway funds for failure to enforce the CAA.) In an extreme case, it can even reassume enforcement authority. Nothing like Congress delegating its power to tax and spend to unelected bureaucrats in an administrative agency, so they can use the threat of withholding federal funds to coerce any recalcitrant state into enforcing federal law. How American that is!

Until the mid-1930's, the Court struck down stratagems like that as illegal delegations of Congress' authority. It did that three times just in 1935. But these days, the Court calls that pitch a strike--even though it's nowhere near the strike zone. That's the sort of central control, helped along by a friendly court, that statists dream of.

How does it serve individual liberties to give unelected and unknown functionaries authority to make decisions that directly affect our lives? What can you do if they treat you unfairly? Go before an administrative law judge who works for them? No one can sue them, because they have sovereign immunity. At best, you might get a writ or an injunction against them, after you'd spent a small fortune defending your rights. Yet you seem to disregard the danger of giving these people this kind of unchecked power.

You're right that the Commerce Clause is the hook the representatives who write these laws hang them on. For sixty years, between the mid-'30's and the mid-'90's, the Court decisions on the Commerce Clause--and I've read all the important ones--broadened the federal government's reach until it covered just about everything. Wickard v. Filburn is sometimes cited as the high-water mark, but there were plenty of others. In doing this, the Court also pretty much killed off the 10th Amendment.

Things began to change in the 1990's, but it's not clear if the change will last. The Court resuscitated the 10th Am. in New York v. U.S. in 1992 (federal law requiring state to take title to radioactive waste violated 10th Am.) In U.S. v. Lopez, the Court held in 1995 that because possessing a gun in a school zone did not substantially affect interstate commerce, the Commerce Clause did not authorize a federal law prohibiting any such possession.

In 1995, the Court held in Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida that the (Indian) Commerce Clause did not authorize Congress to abrogate a state's sovereignty. And in 1997, in Printz v. U.S., the Court held that the U.S. had no authority to enlist states to enforce the Brady Act by requiring their chief law enforcement officers to conduct background checks on prospective handgun buyers. The way EPA gets around this problem is by using Congress' power to spend, which they have no legitimate claim to, as a club to make states do what they say. As an administrative agency, it can't directly force states, by law, to do anything. And that keeps it from running afoul of the Constitution, like the laws did in the cases I mentioned.
 AceOfSpace
Joined: 5/28/2007
Msg: 50
What is wrong this generation of people?
Posted: 12/9/2009 7:05:35 AM

How would you define a government abuse of power, Ace?


To me, abuse of power is any exercise of authority or use of force that is contrary to the furtherance of a legitimate political aim. What aims are legitimate? The protection of individual rights, equal treatment under law and custom, equal access to public accommodations, and equal opportunity for representation in decisions whose outcome would materially affect an individual's livelihood, property values, or future prospects.

Any government action that effectively denies an individual's right to due process or equal representation in material decisions, is, in my view, an abuse of power. Any government policy that provides protection to private actions that have those same effects is, in my mind, a potential abuse of government power as well.

I realize that my view is unusual and that it implies that many decisions made by corporate boards behind closed doors could be construed as abuses of power.

For example, the decision to dump the coal tailings in the river, ruining the estuaries downstream, without taking the costs to the fishermen and others into consideration, is simply an abuse of power. They do it because they can, and because the local politicians go along with it, even though the costs to the public interest will be paid for generations to come.

In my view, broader representation and greater accountability leads to a stronger competitive position in the long run, not a weaker one.

Match: Holding to a doctrine without a willingness to reconsider, and a desire to impose it on others who disagree, is the very essence of political abuse. Isn't that what gripes you so badly about statists? To what extent is your gripe with them about their willingness to impose their views by force, and to what extent is it that the things they want to impose differ from the things you would prefer to impose?
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