Red Tape: Rising Cost of Government Regulation

“From the beginning of the Obama Administration to the end of March 2011, a staggering 75 new major regulations, with costs exceeding $38 billion, have been adopted. While the President has acknowledged the need to rein in regulation, the steps taken to date have fallen far short. The President cannot have it both ways—having identified overregulation as a problem, he must take real and significant steps to rein it in. At the same time, Congress—which shares much of the blame for excessive regulation—must step in, establishing critical mechanisms and institutions to ensure that unnecessary and excessively costly regulations are not imposed on the U.S. economy and the American people. Without such decisive steps, the costs of red tape will continue to grow, and Americans—and the U.S. economy—will be the victims.”

via Red Tape: Rising Cost of Government Regulation.

Every time there is a major scandal, there comes a call to get the instigators.  Next comes a new agency to effect a new regulation.  Surely there must be enough law and regulation on the books to get the job done.  The Tortoise has been digging around to understand better what goes on.  Truly it goes at a tortoise  pace because he just doesn’t have a high confidence level in many watchdogs.  Truthfully our good, major newspapers are stretched to make the slightest dent in oversight.  In the meantime we we are nearly forced to rely on sound bites and over-simplifications.

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Romney’s $716B Medicare cut attack is dubious – CBS News

“But where did that $716 billion figure come from?

“From here: A July letter from the Congressional Budget Office to House Speaker John Boehner, which says if the president’s Affordable Care Act is repealed, ‘spending for Medicare would increase by an estimated $716 billion’ over the next decade.

via Romney’s $716B Medicare cut attack is dubious – CBS News.

I have to give some institution somewhere, some shred of credibility.  Right now I’m counting on the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).  It should be the voter’s friend.  I don’t know where else to turn although I think there is hope for the Media if a voter checks out more sides than one. What the left hand trieth to take, the right hand trieth to return and vice versa.   $716 billion is still $716 billion. In this case either we pay more to keep the providers happy or we keep the old system ticking and pay more.  In either case we go broke. We, the People/Consumer pay. Whatever happened to the public option?

As far as lying and telling the truth, what I care about are really big, egregious lies, not the nitpicking silly stuff.  Politicians shave truth and falsehood — EVERY ONE OF THEM.  Don’t look too hard for the truth. Look for what will work   Why has our nation forgotten good, old American pragmatism and “dealing with it.”

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Kansas City Star: Demand a presidential campaign of substance –

Concerned Americans want less about presidential dogs, less about birth certificates and less about second-home car elevators.

They, and we, want substance.

We want serious discussions about health care, entitlements, defense spending, deficits, jobs, foreign policy and education.  More . . .

via The Star’s editorial | Demand a presidential campaign of substance –

After I read this editorial this morning, I felt like no one could have said it better and that no more needs to be said, except more on these issues.  It’s time to dig deeply into real debate. The editorial is not just good Midwestern horse sense, but sound logical sense for useful framing of 2012 election issues and, most likely crucial issues in our nation for the foreseeable future.  I am glad to hear this excellent newspaper calling on President Obama to put the Simpson-Bowles report back on top as a major priority.

In addition I add that this editorial proves why we need and will always need good, old-fashioned, print journalism.  I do not believe a great democratic republic can content itself with cable news only or even PBS and network specials — OR iPhones, Droids, et cetera — any thing that chops complexity into more mindless  dribs and drabs.  Sound bites and the daily palaver about who’s up and who’s down in the polls will not save America.  I’m sorry current events, national and global, are not solely entertainment.  They should not be followed like sporting events.  The electronic Media can fix this.

And I am tired of the endless litany of political parties who refuse to debate honestly what few ideas they have.  Truthfully we are all just waiting for the economy to get well on its own.  Maybe that is best; well, fine, then let’s have an end to Romney just saying over and over and over again how he can do a better job than Obama.  I want to know how and what he would do, except preside over inertia. What does the man believe in? Right now, I only know that Romney wants to be the President.  Perhaps he wants to out do dear old dad and that’s it.  From Romney I would like to know why he is not just another Herbert Hoover.  I want to hear him talk about the revenue side of budgeting.  He’s a businessman after all.

Obama wants a second term.  And I want President Obama to frame a total vision and tell me about it — better than the hope stuff.  I want him to confront the spectre of economic meltdown from debts and deficits.  I want Simpson-Bowles to frame the debate.  I want candidates who don’t constantly feed the public with more pap.  I have seen the statesman in Obama.  I want to see more of it.

Do you think it will happen?  I am not optimistic because money, buckets of money, will prevent it.  A true,  democratically-elected republic might call for compromise.  Do I expect too much?

Steadfast and cautious,

David Milliken

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Theodore Roosevelt on the Issues of 2012

“. . . We must have complete and effective publicity of corporate affairs, so that the people may know beyond peradventure whether the corporations obey the law and whether their management entitles them to the confidence of the public. It is necessary that laws should be passed to prohibit the use of corporate funds directly or indirectly for political purposes; it is still more necessary that such laws should be thoroughly enforced. Corporate expenditures for political purposes, and especially such expenditures by public-service corporations, have supplied one of the principal sources of corruption in our political affairs . . . ”

via New Nationalism Speech by Theodore Roosevelt.  This is a long speech by Theodore Roosevelt and written in a time before sound bites and ersatz opinion making.  My time was well repaid in the reading of it.  I hope yours will be, too.

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Social Darwinism, Alive and Well in Election 2012

The Tortoise in his plodding way set out to understand liberalism and laissez faire. But Tortoise, slow and steady, steadfast and cautious, got very angry when he read that “In nature, survival of the fittest is the rule [at least according to Herbert Spencer, 1802-1903 in The Gospel of Social Darwinism]. Well, this he could accept, but he could not tolerate that “the weak and the effete make way for the strong and the swift.” That was it for Tortoise who knows a lot about survival, the strong and the swift. “Why,” he asked, ”do the strong and the swift have any better claim in the pursuit of happiness than the slow and the steady, the prudent and the deliberate? What’s the big deal about muscles and speed, especially if most of them are on steroids?  Does everyone have to win a frickin’ bowl game to be worth a damn? Why with some luck a tortoise can live 100 years!”

Tortoise, my friends, is furious. Any way this is what Herbert Spencer thought in the late 19th Century and things haven’t changed much. We all know who’s expendable, don’t we, Mr. Job Creator.

R. Strinivasan has written a superb paper on “Liberalism.”  The article or Position Paper–16, appears at Indian Liberals(Group) in Vol.2.  For those who have ever cared about such things as the evolution of liberalism from the 16th Century to the present, this is a readable article and mercifully short. This matters, friends, this matters. Liberalism isn’t socialism. The article clarifies why today’s American Conservatives are really 19th Century Liberals.

But more important, although the American election is not Strinivasan’s subject, his scholarship provides an historical perspective for the 2012 Debate in the U.S. — currently playing out in our mindless, Media circus. If you want to take the extra time in this paper, you can also appreciate the differences in British, French, German and American liberalism. In each nation the philosophy grew out of the unique experiences of these peoples.  From other reading(Edmund Burke), I know that the French Revolution and Robespierre, for example, gave the French a strong desire for a strong state. Watching that revolution from across the English Channel profoundly affected the British way.

Read this paper and you will understand how much demagoguery inundates us this political season. A plague on all thelr houses!

Here’s one last quote from the paper. Read “Liberal” as “Job Creator:”

Apart from this, there was an unfeeling attitude to the problems of the proletariat. The British economists were impressed by laws which they held to be immutable. Malthus was to argue of the impossibility of improving the lot of the poor – they tend to have an excessive birth rate. The subsistence theory of wages argued that the wage tends to be at a level which would allow the labour to exist and perpetuate itself without increase or decrease of their numbers. Any legislation which would augment the wage of the labour will result in a population increase which would offset the gain and poverty would continue. Also, increase in wages would eat into profits, reduce investment into production, increase unemployment and perpetuate misery. Nassau Senior advocated a view that legislation to shorten the hours of labour would militate against the profits; for profits are made only in the last hour of the working day. If one were to shorten the working hours, it would lead to the closing of the factories and mines. He was dubbed as ‘Last Hour Senior’. The Liberals were described as creating a science for wealth rather than a science of wealth.”

Steadfast and cautious,

for The Tortoise

David Milliken


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The Ticket-Buying Public Needs Hope

I’m not sure who the pundit was who punned on these lyrics from the musical “Anything Goes.” When it occurred, I was stripping the carcass of our turkey and listening to MSNBC’s palaver show with Chris Matthews et al. Anyway, I think that was the show. Perhaps I heard the reference between the umpteenth plug for Mr. Matthews new book and the umpteenth reminder that Eugene Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist.  One tends to loose new information with the interference of monotonous, narcissistic litany of celebrities.  For sure it was somebody on the tube and I thought it rather clever.  In the musical the word is “hoke.”

Additionally while  I can’t recall the pundit’s name or the association he/she was making, I can fairly assume  the reference might have been to something from the tower of campaign babble which is mostly hokum.  (My wife can’t recall it either.  She was trying to coax the terrier in from the cold.  Our terriers are not hokum.  They are precious.)  All of this lends an opportunity for me to commit my own, more humble bit of shameless  self-promotion.

The last ticket I bought was for the movie “My Afternoons with Margueritte” with Gérard Depardieu and Gesèle Casadesus.  The film was filled with hope in the precious power of human caring and love.  Since then a few of my lesser hopes have been dashed when I watched the annual Ohio State – Michigan battle, but I am content.  Ohio State has had a nice run.  I was glad I did not have to buy a ticket in frigid Ann Arbor to see my hopes ended. Nothing about the Gator Bowl  gives me hope, even if I bought a ticket and flew to whatever stadium it occupies. My hopes in and for President Obama have also been dashed.  I don’t know whether or not or even in what way I may yet pay for that ticket.  No one has yet offered me a better prospect, so I won’t complain until after we elect one of the Republican bozos. I would at least buy a ticket to hear Jon Huntsman.

But there’s one thing of which I am certain.  Americans deserve some decent Hope and Hope is not hoke:

If the hero’s flustered Hit him with a custard

You gotta give the people hoke.

Do your best tour jeté From a classic ballet

And they’ll rush to the lobby and smoke

Add a tiny pratfall

And you’ll be running that ball

You gotta give the people hoke

Now the critics may say it’s trash

But trash or not, it’s a smash We’ve done it again

And the crowds are standing in line

— from “Anything Goes” according to Bing Crosby and Donald O’Connor.


Steadfast and cautious,

D. “Tortoise” Taylor

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Questions for “Gridlock Grover” Norquist and His Shrinking Flock – The Huffington Post

“As the work of the debt-reduction Super-Committee approaches its climax (or anti-climax) next week, the oversized role of tax lobbyist Grover Norquist has dominated the conversation, including this page one story  in today’s Washington Post, which confirms that a growing, bipartisan collection of Members of Congress is backing away from the Norquist ‘no-tax’ pledge .

“There are two themes among the statements by Senators and Representatives who are running from Grover. The first is that the Norquist pledge — often signed by candidates, now Members, many years ago in the course of a heated political campaign — is not currently binding. As Representative Rob Andrews (D-NJ) colorfully put it , ‘I never considered it to be like my marriage vows. I’m married to Camille Andrews, not Grover Norquist.’  Smart decision.

“The second, even more powerful, refrain, is that the oath to the Constitution required of every public official trumps any special interest pledge. Representative Mike Simpson (R-ID) led an effort a couple of weeks back that produced this remarkable letter  signed by 100 Members of Congress, including 37 Republicans who had previously signed the Norquist pledge, calling for all options, including increased revenue, to be on the table in the Super-Committee negotiations. In explaining his rejection of the Norquist pledge, Simpson said  it plainly: ‘The only pledge I take anymore is to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. That’s the pledge every member takes when he gets sworn in and that’s the pledge you oughtta be concerned about.’ ”

via Questions for “Gridlock Grover” Norquist and His Shrinking Flock – The Huffington Post.

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Occupy Wall Street — Wherever, Even Kansas City!

It was a beautiful day in Kansas City, an October day when the temperature reached the eighties.  Under the cloudless, blue sky I concluded that October is Kansas City’s finest month.  I work from my home now; thus I was free to watch Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC at noon.  She was interviewing campers at Occupy Wall Street.  I heard about Occupy Wall Street in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and elsewhere.  I wondered when it might happen in Kansas City.  Indeed, it has already started, I picked up from the Internet.  Twenty-four people have been showing up near Liberty Memorial and its neighbor, the Federal Reserve Bank.

This is the way it starts then.   Next I went to Facebook, just to see what I might discover in the nature of an “Arab spring,” so to speak.  Sure enough, a leaderless throng develops right here in Kansas City.  Of course and how appropriate — Liberty Memorial next to the Fed!  The throng grows.

I was in the Navy when the Free Speech Movement started in Berkeley.  In May of 1968 when French students rioted,  I had just left the Navy, my heart and mind full of feelings and doubts about the war I had just participated in.  The student rebellion in France almost brought down the Fifth Republic and President DeGaulle with it.  The times, the conditions, the rhetoric of now and then are eerily similar and full of admonition.  The major difference I see is the makeup of the throng.  Now the assembly redressing its grievances is young, old and middle-aged, full of students, surely, but a genuine cross section of the American middle class.  Nothing, when it finally takes hold, can be more powerful than angry, unemployed people from across the socio-economic spectrum.  And they have nothing but time on their hands.   This time they are “leaderless” — at least for the moment.  The resemblance to Lybia cannot be missed.

The epithets are there: fascist-Leninist, anarchists,  spoiled kids, Commies, radicals, et cetera.  More likely they lean toward being anxious human beings.  For sure they have witnessed job loss in their fifties and no jobs in their twenties. Many have been foreclosed. Others have health costs out the ying yang. They probably have friends, brothers and sisters who have already headed West to Asia where, at least for awhile, there was a boom.  There’s not enough boom in North Dakota natural gas to give everyone a job.  Some have a kid in the service who won’t find a job after doing his/her duty. The great promise of the service industry that was going to replace manufacturing has died.  This is the way it starts then.  As the poet Yeats said, “the center cannot hold” and the “falcon cannot hear the falconer.”  Will “mere anarchy be losed upon the world?”  The global dimension is there — what with Europe slumping.

And it will not matter whether or not we speed up deregulation in order to free entrepreneurship — besides the normal capitalistic process pours out like molasses in a Kansas winter.  We have fiddled too long. If Congress doesn’t act now, and it may be too late already, somebody is going to act.  Something will happen, because it must happen.  This is the way it starts.

David Milliken

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A Citizen’s Prayer for the United States of America

Dear God,

These are trying times for all your children across the world, dear God. I thank you for both the blessings and burdens of global leadership given to the United States of America. May we be worthy of your Grace and Trust.  Please touch the hearts and minds of our elected Representatives of the People and Senators of the Republic. Make them mindful that in our democratic republic there must be liberty, freedom and feasible fairness for good times and bad; that our democratic republic must rest on tempered capitalism; that  vices and virtues abound in every economic system; that taken alone neither capitalism or progressivism are  wholly or purely good; that both have negative effects;; that properly understood and tempered neither of them is inherently fatal. The two approaches offer  strong therapies requiring changing blends adjusted to the ailments  according to time, place and severity.    God, banish unfounded fears from our spirits.

Teach our elected officials to suspend pre-occupation with re-election and self-aggrandizement long enough to act solely in the public interest based on the results of facts, judgment, good sense and responsible argument — civil argument.   Make them understand that the poet was right when he spoke of the shadow that falls between the motion and the act; and that the People are exhausted from endless groping in the shadows.  Keep us all from selfishness and greed. Bless the common wealth.  Help the People and its publics to understand their own excesses — even the need for strong medicine now and then. Make as anathema to all the use of viciousness that only encourages more viciousness. When decisions are made they are made for a time. Political parties deserve their term of sway, but public elections are the means of changing the dominance of any philosophy. Simple majorities of three to five per cent are not mandates. Right order of redress and reconsideration must be respected.  Dear God, we cannot thrive in a state of constant turmoil.

Make us all  understand that the trinity of Faith, Hope and Charity has its place in our society and its government.

In your name we ask these things, Dear God. Amen.

Steadfast and Cautious,

D. “Tortoise” Taylor

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