If I Were Dictator (Part 20)

Posted on Wed 07/13/2011 by


By Marlin6

On 02/05/2008, I authored a post “Benevolent Dictators Make Good Government”. Examples are King David – Israel – (1010 BC –970 B.C.) in ancient times and General Douglas McArthur – Japan – (1945 –1947) in modern times. I started musing about what I would do if I were absolute dictator of the United States to fast track our country back to a position of greatness and prosperity. Therefore I am submitting a series of posts to PA Pundits (many controversial) about how I would provide solutions to the major issues facing our nation.


I would issue an order that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are eliminated and all regulations issued by these bureaucracies are null and void. These two organizations are classic examples of government run amuck, and have done more to stifle growth and entrepreneurship than any other agencies. I will list graphic examples of their overreaching regulations (especially under the Obama administration).

Businesses and jobs are always on the minds of politicians. Sen. Pat Toomey (R – PA) went to Cambria County to discuss what needs to be fixed with government regulations. He toured McQuaide Trucking Co. in Richland Township, and found out what’s hurting them and businesses similar to theirs. He said, “The voters and Congress made it perfectly clear that we don’t want cap and trade.”  Rex McQuaide said in 2009, the EPA put more regulations on their truck engines and cost them $17,000 more per engine. They also talked about the cost of fuel becoming a problem for drivers and trucking companies.  McQuaide said, “When you have prices go up 30 to 35 percent in a short period of time, that’s a significant issue for somebody in the trucking business.” Toomey said it’s time for America to end its dependency on foreign oil and help eliminate the pain at the pump. He said there could be drilling in Alaska — offshore and onshore — but we choose not to do it. “That’s ridiculous, “he said”.

Congressman Mike Coffman (R-CO), chairman of the Oversight Investigations and Regulations Subcommittee for the Small Business Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, listened to small-business owners from Colorado cry foul over Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that they say are destroying their ability to grow and create jobs.   “In the midst of a recession, it really defies all common sense that the EPA would move forward with instituting some 30 new costly regulations, without taking into account the job losses they will create,” Coffman said.  “The EPA’s complete disregard for the Regulatory Flexibility Act, a federal law designed to protect small businesses from unnecessary federal regulations, is also extremely troubling.” Coffman called the hearing to determine if the EPA is complying with the Regulatory Flexibility Act, which is intended to protect small businesses from severe government regulations by forcing federal agencies to account for the economic burdens the regulations impose on small business.  Currently, un-elected bureaucrats at the EPA are attempting to implement a scheme to regulate everything from greenhouse gases to fuel additives.

Glenn Johnston, vice president of regulatory affairs for Gevo Inc., an advanced biofuels company located in Englewood, Colorado, said the EPA regulations in the Clean Air Act are blocking his company from providing a bio-based alternative to petroleum-based fuels. “Gevo and the Advanced Biofuels industry in general believe that the EPA should review its regulatory regime and to the extent possible should assure that biofuels other than ethanol have equal and unfettered access to the market,” Johnston said. Johnston says provisions in the Clean Air Act would prohibit the use of isobutanol, a fuel source made from renewable raw materials that could be used as an alternative to gasoline in combustion engines.  Gevo is working to develop the fuel, which would lessen our dependency on foreign oil. Coffman’s subcommittee also heard testimony from John Ward, chairman of Citizens for Recycling First in Broomfield, Colorado. Ward said that EPA, through the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act, is hindering the ability to recycle coal ash, a byproduct of burning coal. Currently, almost half of America’s energy is generated from coal and in 2009, 135 million tons of coal ash was produced as a result. It is possible to recycle coal ash to make concrete and cement. “In the Agency’s single-minded quest to gain more enforcement authority over the disposal of coal ash, EPA appears resolved to ignore the negative impacts of its actions on an entire recycling industry and the small businesses that comprise it,” Ward said. “If EPA succeeds in getting the regulations it wants, our nation will end up putting hundreds of millions of tons more material into landfills rather than safely recycling it – hardly a ‘green’ result.” Coffman said he hopes the hearing will compel the Obama administration to review the negative effects EPA regulations are having on small business growth.

Sen. James Inhofe (R – OK) has issued a report that examines the effects on state and local governments of several federal water regulations that the Obama EPA is, or will shortly be, implementing: new water quality criteria in Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and numeric nutrient criteria for geographic locations, new storm-water rules, and the new Pesticide General Permit (PGP). These rules carry with them significant unfunded mandates that will cost state and local governments tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars.  These new rules are not the outcome of legislation or rigorous scientific findings, but the direct result of a number of lawsuits by environmentalists.  And the benefits do not outweigh the costs: as this report shows, these new rules will cause a lot of economic pain for state and local governments, without any guarantee of water quality improvement. States and municipalities are suffering because this administration is cranking out expensive unfunded mandates at a breakneck pace.

Richard Fisher, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, said: “Before the recent mid-term election, most all of my business contacts claimed that taxes, regulatory burdens and the lack of understanding in Washington were disincentives for private-sector job creation and were inhibiting the expansion of their payrolls. They felt stymied by a Congress and an executive branch that have appeared to them to be unaware of, if not outright opposed to, what fires the entrepreneurial spirit. Many felt that opportunities for earning a better and more secure return on investment are larger elsewhere than here at home. It is a sad day when investors have more confidence in China and Brazil than in the United States, but that is the climate that Barack Obama’s startling economic ignorance has created.”

The incandescent bulb lit up America and came to symbolize a great idea. Now on the cusp of a federal ban, Thomas Edison’s invention has become a symbol for personal liberty. Perhaps no issue better illuminates the transformation of the right from Big Government conservatism to Tea Party activism. With many consumers griping about the cost and type of light of the substitute bulb, populists have won the ear of some once-staunch ban supporters. Late last year Rep. Fred Upton, (R – MI)., vowed to reverse the very ban on incandescent bulbs that he helped pass.. But after five months as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, he has yet to hold a hearing. “This is a violation of (Upton’s) promise,” said Jennifer Stefano, co-chairwoman of the Loyal Opposition, Pennsylvania’s largest Tea Party group. “The time is now for him to go back and do what he said he was going to do. The government never should have intruded in this matter.” The Energy Bill of 2007 phases out incandescent bulbs, with the 100-watt banned in January 2012. The ban hits the 75-watt bulb in January 2013, and 60- and 40- watt bulbs in January ’14.

President Obama’s pick to serve as the assistant secretary of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is an “aggressively anti-business” proponent of junk science who should not be confirmed by the Senate, his critics say. Dr. David Michaels, a research professor and interim chairman in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at George Washington University’s School of Public Health and Health Services, was nominated on July 28, 2010, to become OSHA’s next assistant secretary. If confirmed, he would serve under Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. Michaels was also the chief architect of an initiative to compensate Department of Energy nuclear weapons workers who developed cancer or lung disease as a result of their exposure to radiation, beryllium and other life-threatening hazards. Since 2000, the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program has doled out more than $4.5 billion in benefits to those workers and their relatives. Second Amendment advocates are up in arms, too, saying they expect Michaels to seek stricter gun control in the workplace as an issue of public health. “It’s one of the scariest appointments the new administration has made,” said James Copland, director of the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Legal Policy, which argues that the country’s litigation system adversely affects innovation and safety.

“One would expect this administration would pick some folks relatively left of center, relatively pro-labor, that’s to be understood,” Copland said. “Michaels has associated himself throughout his career with junk science claims that are pushed by the plaintiff’s bar and have seen a significant rise in the percentage of expert testimony excluded from the courtroom, an increase in successful motions for summary judgments, 90 percent of which “came down” against plaintiffs. “Michaels is closely associated with trial lawyers, so they’re going to try to overturn this,” said Steven Milloy, founder of junkscience.com. “That’s his mission. Our concern is that he’s going to take this mission and somehow implement it at OSHA.” “Trial lawyers would love him,” Milloy said. “He has a junk science agenda. The standards of science at OSHA under Michaels will be extremely low. If nothing else, he will promulgate junk science-based workplace regulation.”

Michaels’ critics say he could keep safe products off the market, much like silicone breast implants that sank Dow Corning Corp. into bankruptcy after it agreed in 1998 to pay women $3.2 Billion to settle their claims. A year later, however, an independent panel of 13 scientists convened by the Institute of Medicine concluded that silicone breast implants do not cause any major diseases.Copland said Michaels was tapped to head OSHA because of his support of “activist regulation through litigation” that often proves beneficial to plaintiff attorneys who frequently have Democrat ties. His supporters also dismiss claims that Michaels is an “anti-gun zealot,” as he was described in a Sept. 7 Washington Times editorial that urged the Senate to deny his confirmation. In 2007, while writing on a failed bill that would have allowed workers to bring guns into company parking lots, Michaels predicted that the National Rifle Association “will no doubt be back, pushing legislation that stands in the way of preventing gun violence.” “Thankfully, the NRA’s legislation failed,” Michaels wrote. Hans Bader, a senior attorney and counsel for special projects at the Competitive Enterprise Institute said he expects “a lot more restrictions” on real or perceived workplace hazards if Michaels is confirmed. “If you view guns as a public health hazard, that may have implications for people’s ability to possess firearms at the workplace,” Bader said. “It raises the possibility that by overzealous regulations he’ll be undermining rather than advancing workplace safety.”

The Small Business Administration opposition (SBA) says the new OSHA rule on ergonomics (carpal tunnel) will cost up to $18 billion a year — several times higher than the OSHA estimated impact – without a proven benefit. Small businesses are creating most of America’s new jobs, and 79 percent of the membership of the National Federation of Independent Business opposes the rule. There is already a market-oriented workplace safety program in existence in every state and community. It’s called workers’ comp insurance. Safe workplaces pay lower rates. Unsafe workplaces pay higher rates. Every employer in America reads the handwriting on the wall. As a result, workplaces are safer than ever. Employers’ workplace safety improvement is due to two other factors. Aside from workers’ comp, employers have a human interest and a business interest in safe workplaces. The human interest is that they know their employees and their families by name. The business interest is that in a tight labor market, lost workdays due to injury cost big money in lost productivity. Of course, there’s always room for improvement — the good news is that employers are doing it on their own, without more big government. By contrast, the new ergonomics rule from the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) represents a “1,000-plus page, top-down approach that just won’t work for workers. What small business can assure compliance with a 1,000-page rule from Washington, D.C.? The trial lawyers and the unions who have been pushing for this for years will have a field day. It is a big, new hunting license for big government and trial lawyers to declare open season on law-abiding employers with safe workplaces and deep pockets. We need to build public support against this big-government assault on Americans.

Here are OSHA specifications for ordinary ladders: “The following general requirements apply to all ladders, including job-made ladders: A double-cleated ladder or two or more ladders must be provided when ladders are the only way to enter or exit a work area having 25 or more employees, or when a ladder serves simultaneous two-way traffic. Ladder rungs, cleats, and steps must be parallel, level, and uniformly spaced when the ladder is in position for use. Rungs, cleats, and steps of portable and fixed ladders (except as provided below) must not be spaced less than 10 inches (25 cm) apart, nor more than 14 inches (36 cm) apart, along the ladder’s side rails. Rungs, cleats, and steps of step stools must not be less than 8 inches (20 cm) apart, nor more than 12 inches (31 cm) apart, between center lines of the rungs, cleats, and steps. Rungs, cleats, and steps at the base section of extension trestle ladders must not be less than 8 inches (20 cm) nor more than 18 inches (46 cm) apart, between center lines of the rungs, cleats, and steps. The rung spacing on the extension section must not be less than 6 inches (15 cm) nor more than 12 inches (31 cm). Ladders must not be tied or fastened together to create longer sections unless they are specifically designed for such use. A metal spreader or locking device must be provided on each stepladder to hold the front and back sections in an open position when the ladder is being used. When splicing side rails, the resulting side rail must be equivalent in strength to a one-piece side rail made of the same material. Two or more separate ladders used to reach an elevated work area must be offset with a platform or landing between the ladders, except when portable ladders are used to gain access to fixed ladders. Ladder components must be surfaced to prevent injury from punctures or lacerations, and prevent snagging of clothing. Wood ladders must not be coated with any opaque covering, except for identification or warning labels that may be placed only on one face of a side rail.” There are tens of thousands of other products with similar specifications, and OSHA can fine anyone for not complying. Any questions?