Favorite

New fraud: Regulation is bad 

In the catalog of imagined horrors inflicted upon the nation by a merciless government, none is more enduring, at least in the minds of big business and the Republican right, than regulation.

They have invoked it for 40 years, since President Nixon, Republican, signed all those laws regulating discharges into the country's air, lakes and streams and forcing businesses to have clean and safe workplaces.

Last week the Republicans used their big majority in the House of Representatives to pass a nonsensical bill to halt new federal regulation. Every important regulation on business would hereafter have to be approved by both houses of Congress. It would quadruple the workload of Congress, which cannot now even pass routine budget bills, and virtually guarantee that no act of Congress dealing with the health, safety and financial security of the American people would ever again be implemented.

But it was just theater. No one seriously thought that could work or should become law. But the Republican congressmen all rushed out boilerplate statements crowing about their votes to create jobs by voting to stop President Obama from imposing burdensome rules on those desperate good people, "the job creators."

Rep. Tim Griffin sent the media a statement claiming that he had just voted to stop the heavy hand of Barack Obama from "crushing Arkansas job creators." He didn't identify the Arkansas employers or potential employers whom the president and his bureaucrats were crushing and how they were doing it.

If he were pressed, he would probably say it's those forthcoming rules to control greenhouse gases, coal ash and other pollutants from fossil fuels, a list supplied by the coal and petrochemical industries and electric utilities.

Griffin would be hard-pressed to show that less government regulation produces jobs. He was a mole in the best laboratory for that research, the George W. Bush administration. (Griffin worked in the White House political office.) Bush came into office denouncing the excessive regulation of the Bill Clinton administration and promising to be more obliging of industry. He put lawyers, lobbyists and executives from industries in the jobs regulating their industries, and regulation came to a virtual standstill, from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the other financial regulators. Bush's EPA refused to carry out the Clean Air Act even after the conservative U.S. Supreme Court said it was obliged to.

How did all that work out, congressman?

The economy produced a net growth of almost 23 million jobs under the extreme duress of the Clinton regulators. In the caress of the Bush regulators, the job creators produced a hair over 1 million jobs—the worst eight-year jobs record since the Great Depression. We need more of that, Griffin says.

The regulatory bugbear does go back largely to Nixon and to the Democratic Congress that worked so closely with him.

There was the hated Occupational Safety and Health Act, signed by Nixon in 1970, requiring all private and government employers to provide a workplace free of toxic chemicals, mechanical dangers and unsanitary conditions. For 20 years, industries denounced OSHA regulations and pointed to ridiculous sounding rules. They were supposed to be costing millions of jobs.

You hear the complaints only rarely now. One reason is that some 14,000 workers were killed or died from workplace accidents or sicknesses every year then. It's down to a little over 4,000 a year now although employment has almost doubled. Injury rates and work-related sicknesses have dropped dramatically, from 11 per 100 workers in 1972, when the rules went into effect, to 3.5 per 100 workers now.

All the consumer product safety rules that Republicans are raging about now? That pretty much started with Nixon and his firebrand consumer affairs director, Virginia Knauer, who died, incidentally, the other day at 96.

All the current fuss about regulation is over the implementation of the Clean Air Act, signed by Nixon, along with the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. When a major air pollutant is identified, the EPA is supposed to adopt regulations to bring it under control. Now it's carbon dioxide, mercury, nitric acids and other contributors to global warming.

Congress and their regulatory lackeys acted upon the growing alarm of Americans about polluted lakes, rivers and harbors, the smothering smog and deteriorating quality of the air over major cities like Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago (and, yes, Little Rock), the acid rain that was killing forests in the industrial heartland and the rising incidence of respiratory diseases among children and the elderly.

All those horrors are much better, thanks to regulation, and some day we will combat greenhouse gases, too, though maybe too late. It is well to remember that the Griffins and the chambers of commerce all those years said the rules were excessive and job killing.

Favorite

Sign up for the Daily Update email

Speaking of Tim Griffin

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Ernest Dumas

  • Legislative boodlers

    Which sounds like the best use of your taxpayer dollars: helping pay for medical care for unemployed people, or bribing and lobbying legislators and other government officials to bestow millions of your tax dollars on a corrupt organization that claims it helps poor people who have drug problems or disabilities?
    • Jun 14, 2018
  • Scary Granny Pelosi

    Nancy Pelosi has replaced Barack Obama as the all-purpose bete noir of Republican politicians, including Arkansas's, but will she be as potent as the black president?
    • Jun 7, 2018
  • Darkly paid judges

    This is the third Arkansas election cycle in a row where corporate interests have used the cover of dark money and semisecret political action committees to try to install cozy appellate judges.
    • May 31, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Along the civil rights trail

    A convergence of events in recent days signaled again how far we have come and how far we have yet to go in civil rights.
    • Jan 18, 2018
  • The Oval outhouse

    One thing all Americans finally can agree upon is that public discourse has coarsened irretrievably in the era of Donald Trump and largely at his instance.
    • Jan 18, 2018
  • Shrugging off sulfides

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported a shocker on its front page Sunday. The rotten-egg odor from the Koch brothers' sprawling paper plant at Crossett is still making people sick, but the state's pollution control agency is unaware of the problem.
    • Mar 29, 2018

Latest in Ernest Dumas

  • Legislative boodlers

    Which sounds like the best use of your taxpayer dollars: helping pay for medical care for unemployed people, or bribing and lobbying legislators and other government officials to bestow millions of your tax dollars on a corrupt organization that claims it helps poor people who have drug problems or disabilities?
    • Jun 14, 2018
  • Scary Granny Pelosi

    Nancy Pelosi has replaced Barack Obama as the all-purpose bete noir of Republican politicians, including Arkansas's, but will she be as potent as the black president?
    • Jun 7, 2018
  • Darkly paid judges

    This is the third Arkansas election cycle in a row where corporate interests have used the cover of dark money and semisecret political action committees to try to install cozy appellate judges.
    • May 31, 2018
  • More »

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Him, again

    • That's why it is better to bag babes at the bigger libraries. You get a…

    • on June 20, 2018
  • Re: Legislative boodlers

    • The U6 unemployment rate is still at 8%, partly because they can get benefits and…

    • on June 19, 2018
  • Re: Him, again

    • Regardless of my success or lack of it, I've been way ahead of Trump all…

    • on June 19, 2018
 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation