Zera's Blog

A Citizen's View from Main Street

House Republicans Pushing Bill To Shift Regulation Authority To Congress


The purpose of having regulatory authority within the administra­tion is that the legislatur­e does not have the time or expertise to do it. The legislatur­e writes broad policy into law, and the administra­tion works out and implements the details.

Putting the administra­tion on a short leash rejects the separation of powers, cripples the regulatory function, inflates hyper-part­isanship, and increases the cost while decreasing the effectiven­ess of government­. This, of course, is what the GOP wants. By crippling the government’s ability to protect the lives and rights of living people, they give a free hand to the predators and polluter who support them. The anarchy they seek favors the powerful and the dangerous.

This is deeply damaging to the country.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

December 10, 2011 Posted by | GOP, Governance, Regulation | , , , , | Leave a comment

House Republicans Stepping Up Anti-Regulation Effort


Regulation is as necessary as traffic law. While I have seen some silly traffic laws, I don’t think that any responsibl­e person would propose getting rid of all traffic law as a consequenc­e.

Every regulation is a reminder that businesses bear no responsibi­lity toward the public good. That responsibi­lity lies with the people, through their official instrument­: the government­.

A bad regulation is a regulation that fails to protect the public interest. A regulation is not properly measured by if or how much it impedes commerce, but whether or not that impediment promotes or fails to promote the general welfare.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

December 3, 2011 Posted by | GOP, Regulation | , , , | 1 Comment

112th Congress HR2417 – Better Use of Light Bulbs Act


This Bill has already failed, but it illustrates how the priorities of the republicans stray from the priorities of the country. It also serves as a commentary on the technical competence of knee-jerk legislation.

The Bill:

[Congressional Bills 112th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 2417 Introduced in House (IH)]
112th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 2417
To repeal certain amendments to the Energy Policy and Conservation Act 
  with respect to lighting energy efficiency, and for other purposes.
_______________________________________________________________________
                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
                              July 6, 2011
Mr. Barton of Texas (for himself, Mr. Akin, Mr. McClintock, Mr. Flores, 
   Mr. Hultgren, Mr. Turner, Mr. Wolf, Mrs. Lummis, Mrs. Capito, Mr. 
Scalise, Mr. McKinley, Mr. Burgess, Mrs. Blackburn, Mr. Goodlatte, Mr. 
 Poe of Texas, and Ms. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas) introduced the 
   following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and 
                                Commerce
_______________________________________________________________________
                                 A BILL
To repeal certain amendments to the Energy Policy and Conservation Act 
  with respect to lighting energy efficiency, and for other purposes.
    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
    This Act may be cited as the “Better Use of Light Bulbs Act”.
SEC. 2. LIGHTING ENERGY EFFICIENCY.
    (a) In General.–Sections 321 and 322 of the Energy Independence 
and Security Act of 2007 (Public Law 110-140) are repealed.
    (b) Application.–The Energy Policy and Conservation Act (42 U.S.C. 
6201 et seq.) shall be applied and administered as if sections 321 and 
322 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (and the 
amendments made by those sections) had not been enacted.
SEC. 3. MERCURY-CONTAINING LIGHTING.
    No Federal, State, or local requirement or standard regarding 
energy efficient lighting shall be effective to the extent that the 
requirement or standard can be satisfied only by installing or using 
lamps containing mercury.
SEC. 4. STATE REGULATION.
    No State or local regulation, or revision thereof, concerning the 
energy efficiency or energy use of medium screw base general service 
incandescent lamps shall be effective.
SEC. 5. DEFINITIONS.
    In this Act, the terms “general service incandescent lamp”, 
“lamp”, and “medium screw base” have the meanings given those terms 
pursuant to the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (42 U.S.C. 6201 et 
seq.), as applied and administered pursuant to section 2.
                                 <all>

Analysis

Section 1:

A cute use of an acronym, but it does not really apply to the Bill. The Bill is about choice, not best practices.
HR91 and S395 use the same name.

Section 2:

A sweeping statement that a section of law is repealed does not actually modify the law. Rather, it complicates the law with conditional statements. This bill creates the very same burdensome bureaucratic rat’s nest legal code that everyone wants to simplify and streamline. The final modifications of 42 U.S.C. Chapter 77 (a.k.a. 42 U.S.C. 6201 et seq.) are not specified here, but left vague and open to interpretation. This bill represents the legislative laziness that creates problems and drives up legal costs.
What they should have written might have looked more like:
 (a) In General.–Sections 321 and 322 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (Public Law 110-140) are repealed.
 (b) Application.–(precise instructions on how to unwind 110-140, Sec. 321 and Sec. 322)
 (c) Rulemaking.–(precise instructions on how to unwind rules required by or based on 110-140, Sec. 321 and Sec. 322)
 (d) Expenditures.–(precise instructions on how to remove funding for programs enacted by 110-140, Sec. 321 and Sec. 322)

Section 3:

This section is curious for a few reasons:
  1. With the development of full-spectrum LED lights, this section is rendered useless. LED lights can meet any requirement of standard that florescent lights could. The exception would be for ballast requirements that have nothing to do with bulb choice.
  2. Supposed protection from mercury in the bulbs (less than a thermometer’s worth) would be more than offset by the extra coal ash generated. Coal ash contains mercury, some of which goes into the air. Light bulbs containing mercury must be recycled, they cannot be put in the trash. The whole mercury-in-landfill argument is false.
  3. It explicitly prohibits state or local government from setting a higher standard. Setting a minimum national standard is one thing, preventing the states from improving on it is another thing entirely.

Section 4:

Another mindless anti-state/local sovereignty restriction. Interestingly, it may also be anti-innovation.
“There’s a massive misperception that incandescents are going away quickly,” said Chris Calwell, a researcher with Ecos Consulting who studies the bulb market. “There have been more incandescent innovations in the last three years than in the last two decades.”
and
“Due to the 2007 federal energy bill that phases out inefficient incandescent light bulbs beginning in 2012, we are finally seeing a race” to develop more efficient ones, said Noah Horowitz, senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Constitutional Authority Statement:

By Mr. BARTON of Texas:
H.R. 2417.
Congress has the power to enact this legislation pursuant to the following:
This bill is enacted pursuant to the power granted to Congress under Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution.
U. S. Const., Art I, Sec. 8, clause 3:
[The Congress shall have Power] “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;”
I might add:
U. S. Const., Art I, Sec. 8, clause 18:
[The Congress shall have Power] “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”
Seems to be an incomplete Authority without the power to write the laws that exercise the allotted powers.
I would also like to note that this Bill was written under the assertion that the Federal government lacks the authority to write the law it is attempting to repeal, while using the same allegedly non-existent Constitutional Authority for this Bill.
It has been estimated that this Bill would directly cost consumers $6-12B in additional energy costs in order to feed anti-government sentiments. The indirect costs of additional air pollution and energy-dependence have not been calculated, to my knowledge. This is a very high cost for no purpose other than partisan politician gain.
{UPDATE} The republicans seem to have found a way to temporarily defund enforcement.
Oooopsy. GOP attack on light-bulb efficiency irks manufacturers

July 18, 2011 Posted by | Legislation, Strangelove | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Koch Brothers, Grover Norquist Split On Ethanol Subsidies


I would like to throttle back the ethanol subsidies, though not eliminate them completely­. But not for the reasons the Koch brothers give.

The campaign to promote corn ethanol drove up the price of corn, which benefited the corn farmers. It also encouraged new businesses and job creation, as well as diluting our dependence on oil for transportation.

But at a price…

As demand for corn skyrocketed, the price also rose. Because the price went up, more fields were planted with corn. More corn fields meant less fields devoted to other grains, which led to low supply and high prices for other grains. That raised the price of foods derived from grains and food animals fed on grains.

In short, it drove up the price of food. Worldwide.

What would I do?

1) Cap corn ethanol at 10% mixture.
2) Keep subsidies for small “blenders”­, but greatly reduce or eliminate subsidies for the rest. (research would be required to determine a proper threshold.) Betraying the small startups would hurt the government­’s ability to lead the economy into the future instead of letting it decline in the past.
3) Bring oil speculatio­n back into regulated markets, where they belong. I would tax windfall profits of oil speculator­s by at least 50% – their pursuit of profits severely hurts the economy.
3a) If (3) is not feasible, then bypass the market entirely by having the federal government buy directly from the producer on contract and sell at a slight profit to the domestic market. This is probably the best option for the country (and the world).

And the Koch brothers? They are the evil behind the high price of oil speculation. They’ll survive:
http://thi­nkprogress­.org/repor­t/koch-oil­-speculati­on/
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

June 16, 2011 Posted by | Capitalism, Economics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nobody Should Need A Driver’s License – Or Civilization


Bobby Franklin and driver's licenseRepublican Georgia state legislator Bobby Franklin thinks that driver’s licenses impose undue restrictions on the right of citizens to travel. So he’s proposed legislation to stop the state from issuing them.

That’s not the only eyebrow raising legislation Franklin has introduced: he’s also proposed bills requiring the exclusive use of gold and silver as tender in payment of debts by or to the state; a bill seeking to eliminate crop management regulations; another bill banning forced vaccinations; a bill to stop the collection of the Georgia income tax; another to stop all property taxes and yet another to end eminent domain.

He has also sought to abolish the State Road and Tollway Authority, the Department of Health and Human Services and any social services Georgia provides.

In one bill that reads as his philosophical statement on the roots of government, Franklin laments the fall of religious and family authority. The bill — called the “Life, Liberty, and Property Restoration Act” — begins by acknowledging the existence of “an almighty, everlasting, creator God, the God of the Bible, the only God there is.” The bill then notes that God created “four, not one spheres of government”: self-government, family government, church government, and finally “the fourth, and least” — civil government.

I think that the last election may have brought batshit conservatism to critical mass.

This guy is in desperate need of deprogramming. He seems to have lost all understanding of how society works. It takes a real conservative to elect someone who has completely abandoned the Constitution even though he had to have sworn allegiance to it before taking his elected office.

His legislation is an insult to the dreams and hard work of the founding fathers, and the sacrifice of all those who gave their lives in the creation and defense if this country.
Georgia Republican: Nobody Should Need A Driver’s License

February 3, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is the Chamber of Commerce a Subversive Organization?


The more that Corporate America can reach across the border for cheap labor, unprotected resources, and tax shelters, the more they insulate themselves from the American people and the American economy.

The more their interests come in conflict with the interests of the American people, and therefore conflict with government for the people.

It is disturbing to see how many support what are effectively foreign interests instead of the interests of the country. Some are already owned by Corporate America. Others aspire to join them – but with only 4% upward economic mobility, it is generally a vain hope.

Government is the tool we the people have to oppose the otherwise overwhelming power of big business. It is no surprise that they go to any lengths to take that tool away from us.

The working class are the ones who truly need to take back the country.
Take it back from the oligarchs and corporatists.
Take it back from the theocrats and propagandists.
Take it back from fear, prejudice, and ignorance.

Take it back to government of the people, by the people and for the people, because we the people are the ones who ultimately bear the burdens of failure – every failure, regardless of source.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

November 1, 2010 Posted by | Campaign Finance, Capitalism, Economics, Elections, Government, Labor, Regulation | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Homeowners Get The Boot For Bad Paperwork While Banks Get Millions For Same


Foreclosure signThree years ago I wanted limits placed on how much the ARMs could reset in a year, in an effort to slow the foreclosures and collapse of real estate prices. I wanted the courts to sort the schemers from the dupes for the same reason.

Republicans would have none of it. They cried sanctity of contract, though these were fraudulently made and deserving of review by the courts. Contracts were sacred (except union contracts) regardless of the harm to the economy. And harm there was.

The financial sector has so badly botched mortgages that sorting it out through due process would take so long that it would freeze the market to the point of another recession. And yet, the banks have earned the losses they are trying so hard to pass on the their victims. Nor can main street absorb any more fiscal abuse if the economy is to recover.

The financial sector has become it’s own worst enemy, and no friend to the economy. They created this recession, and they are not done screwing up. They cannot prove ownership of mortgages or the right to foreclose in untold instances.

Prudent risk and due diligence have given way to unrepentant avarice. Have we reached the time for moral hazard?

They deserve to fail, but they are not the only ones who would pay for their failure.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

November 1, 2010 Posted by | Capitalism, Economics, Regulation | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Figures Detail Depth Of Unemployment Misery, Lower Earnings For All But Super Wealthy


Unemployment woesWe have become a nation divided by ideology. Community vs individualism. Pride and honor vs avarice and power. Perseverance vs instant gratification. Federalism vs Confederacy. Republic vs Corporatocracy.

Capitalism has not only reached across the border, it has straddled it. The economic model of a national economy is fundamentally broken. American workers and American corporations do not function in the same economy. That has to be fixed before we can prosper again.

Capitalism is not a form of government, no matter how many people try to make it one. It is a culture of competing and conflicting self-interests, not leadership. Under the domination of conservatism, we surrendered the initiative to others. The future went from 10 years (Space Race) to 3 months as we became fixated on quarterly profits. Economic myopia.

We need to develop new industries and oil independence, but conservatives resist. For 10 years, we tried the conservative approach in it’s extreme. Environmental law, anti-trust law, regulation, and budgetary restraint were all sacrificed in the name of conservative-style economic growth. And what did we get for it? Private sector job growth in decline for 10 years. Bush43 created only 3m net jobs, the worst performance on record. Wages stagnated, fraud flourished, the economy weakened and inevitably fell into recession.

We have a private sector that cannot get out of it’s own way. Banks rushing to foreclose on properties they cannot prove they have a legal right to foreclose on, using bogus documentation, driving down the value of the property they are ceasing – trampling due process and individual rights in the process.

If we are to recover from this recession, if we are to create meaningful numbers of new jobs, we need new industries and modern infrastructure. We need to recognize the limitations of capitalism, and adapt accordingly.

New Figures Detail Depth Of Unemployment Misery, Lower Earnings For All But Super Wealthy

October 29, 2010 Posted by | Capitalism, Direction, Economics, Regulation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Proposed New Jersey Law Would Penalize Employers For Discriminating Against Unemployed



This law is too broad in that it makes no exception for internal transfer opportunities. As written, it could be interpreted to prohibit efforts to retain existing workers through internal placement.

This law could also be leveraged to downsize higher-paid employees and then hire lower-paid replacements.

I like the basic idea, but when I look at a law, I look for how it could be misunderstood or abused. Ambiguities and generalities are generally bad.

An Act concerning employment discrimination and supplementing Title 34 of the Revised Statutes.

Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

1.    No employer or employer’s agent, representative, or designee shall publish, in print or on the Internet, an advertisement for any job vacancy that contains one or more of the following:

a.     Any provision stating or suggesting that the qualifications for a job include current employment;

b.    Any provision stating or suggesting that the employer or employer’s agent, representative, or designee will not consider or review an application for employment submitted by any job applicant currently unemployed; or

c.     Any provision stating or suggesting that the employer or employer’s agent, representative, or designee will only consider or review applications for employment submitted by job applicants who are currently employed.

2.    Any employer who violates this act shall be subject to a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $5,000 for the first violation and $10,000 for each subsequent violation, collectible by the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development in a summary proceeding pursuant to the “Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999,” P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.).

3.    This act shall take effect immediately.

STATEMENT

This bill prohibits an employer or employer’s agent, representative, or designee to publish, in print or on the Internet, an advertisement for any job vacancy that prohibits, announces or suggests that unemployed individuals need not apply for a job vacancy. The bill provides for the imposition of civil penalties, for a violation of the bill, in an amount not to exceed $5,000 for the first violation, or $10,000 for each subsequent violation, collectible by the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development.

An Act concerning employment discrimination and supplementing Title 34 of the Revised Statutes.

I worked for a large company for many years, and transferred internally on several occasions. Such transfers promote job stability and reduce training costs, both of which are desirable. If the law stated that external candidates cannot be required to have a current job, then that would be a different story.

Just shuffling people from one company to another does not increase employment. I hope the tax holiday for new hires is limited to hiring the unemployed. There should be an increase in head count involved.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

An Act concerning employment discrimination and supplementing Title 34 of the Revised Statutes.

October 15, 2010 Posted by | Capitalism, Labor, Regulation | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Union: China Violating Trade Rules In Clean Energy



Zhuubaajie: You are quite mistaken. As a specific example, Japanese semiconductor manufacturers dumped (sold below cost) memory chips in the US until the American computer memory industry failed. Now we cannot make electronics, including military electronics, without importing memory from Asia. The idea that the market determines the price is only valid when there is fair competition, which does not apply to China. Not just the fabrication, but the design of processors already has one foot out the door. Won’t that be fun when we become nothing more than salesmen in the entire electronics industry.

Nor does your alleged “golden age” hold water. Cheap imports coupled with mega-mergers and job exporting drove a period of stagnant wages that deflated the purchasing power of Main Street and created vulnerability to teaser-rate mortgages and liar loans. It drove home equity loans and high credit card debt that culminated in a national saving rate below $0 in 2006 and economic collapse starting in 2007.

Upward economic mobility has remained below 4% since 1980. Private sector job creation under Bush43 was the worst on record.

The exodus of wealth in the form of massive trade deficits have done more to weaken our economy than even budget deficits. We are well on the way to becoming a third-world economy.

The economic model of a national economy is fundamentally broken. American workers and American corporations do not function in the same economy. That has to be fixed before we can prosper again.
More on Green Energy
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

September 22, 2010 Posted by | Capitalism, Direction, Economics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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