THE COLUMN: To Save America, Abolish the Regulatory Agencies
Lest you were still laboring under the illusion that we live in a representative democracy, aka a republic, let the scales now once and forever fall from your eyes. The Republic that Boomers of my generation grew up pledging allegiance to every day in the classrooms of 1950s America, hand on heart, is no more. In fact, it died during the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration, which first bollixed up the recovery from the Great Depression by extending it for a decade while FDR and his "progressive" advisers (some of highly uncertain loyalty) gradually introduced neo-fascist central-planning (they were great admirers of Mussolini). Then they caught a lucky break at Pearl Harbor and suddenly the brakes were off. Washington, D.C. never looked back, booming from a backwater burg to the capital city of the planet Earth in the span of a few decades.
Dwight Eisenhower, the victorious Allied senior commander in the European theater, most famously warned the nation at the end of his tenure in January 1961 about the "military-industrial complex." As the general who oversaw the greatest mass mobilization in American history and who fought an industrial-strength war with it, Ike was well-positioned see the danger ahead. That particular danger came and went with the Soviet Union but his words apply today to a newer, domestic threat:
We face a hostile ideology-global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle-with liberty at stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.
But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs-balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage-balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between action of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.
"Good judgment," however, is precisely what's lacking in today's Washington. Bureaucratic parasitism has only accelerated since start of the Nixon administration (Nixon was Ike's veep), as demands for D.C. to "do something" about pretty much everything grew and grew. Having won the war in Europe with Soviet and British help, and defeated the Japanese Empire practically by themselves, Americans felt there was no task too big to tackle. On Nixon's watch —Tricky Dick's fatal flaw, like Donald Trump's, was the fool's errand of trying to get his enemies (who detested him) to like him—the regulatory agencies were summoned into being, dark golems bent on destroying the Constitution in the guise of trying to Save the Earth.
One of the first up was the Environmental Protection Agency, the demon spawn of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970, which mandated (what an ugly word for a democracy to employ) "environmental impact" statements for future federal projects. Nixon put teeth in the law with the creation by executive order of the Environmental Protection Agency at the end of that same year. Then the unelected bureaucrats took over, and turned what had been sold as benign into a ravenous, uncontrollable, punitive beast. And now here we are:
The Biden administration is planning some of the most stringent auto pollution limits in the world, designed to ensure that all-electric cars make up as much as 67 percent of new passenger vehicles sold in the country by 2032, according to two people familiar with the matter. That would represent a quantum leap for the United States — where just 5.8 percent of vehicles sold last year were all-electric — and would exceed President Biden’s earlier ambitions to have all-electric cars account for half of those sold in the country by 2030.
It would be the federal government’s most aggressive climate regulation and would propel the United States to the front of the global effort to slash the greenhouse gases generated by cars, a major driver of climate change.
Yes, from tree-hugging to the federal government's forcing you to buy an electric car by leaving you no other choice was but the work of a half-century. But that's exactly where a regulatory agency's path inevitably leads. While they are ostensibly created by legislative acts or executive orders, once up and running they are essentially accountable to no one. Even worse, they also have quasi-juridical power, which means as far as you're concerned, they're judge, jury, and executioner. The EPA is dangerous because by its germaphobic, totalitarian logic, anything that can affect "the environment" is fair game for its basilisk glare. That mud puddle in your back yard is tomorrow's "wetland," buddy, so don't even think about turning it into a swimming hole.
The post-Frankfurt School Left almost immediately seized upon the EPA as the perfect vehicle by which to take control of the American political and economic systems, since its authority is unquestionable. It's no coincidence that the first Earth Day also came in 1970; mighty oaks from little acorns grew and today we are in the thrall of a mass hallucination called "climate change" whose unstated but very real goal is to bring our economy to its knees and our way of living to an end, for our own good.
The quintessentially unlawful and just plain dumb idea of an unregulated regulatory agency is, naturally, an American invention, going back to the Interstate Commerce Commission of 1887, initially established to regulate the railroads but quickly mission-creeping its way into control of the roads and waterway and even the oil companies. The ICC was abolished in 1996, but it birthed a parade of little gremlins, which remain with us today:
The assertion of governmental control in other industries led to the creation of many other regulatory agencies modeled upon the ICC, chief among these being the Federal Trade Commission (FTC; 1914), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC; 1934), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC; 1934). In addition, regulatory powers were conferred upon the ordinary executive departments; the Department of Agriculture, for example, was given such powers under the Stockyards and Packers Act (1938). Much of Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program of the 1930s was carried out through administrative regulation. During the same period a comparable development took place in state and municipal government. Other, more recent federal agencies included the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC; 1964), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA; 1970), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA; 1971), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC; 1972), the Federal Election Commission (FEC; 1975), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC; 1975), and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB; 2010).
This is no way to run a railroad, much less a country. And yet there has been remarkably little pushback against the agencies, probably because their workings are so complex and obscure that few understand the danger they pose to the very idea of Republic of free citizens. "He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance," complained the colonists in the Declaration of Independence. Little did they know what was coming.
The structure of the American government has been bitch-slapped by these interlopers for far too long. No self-respecting country can so easily and willingly cede its sovereignty to mamelukes and eunuchs and remain independent for long. Nixon's misguided monster needs to be chased by a pitchforked mob into a ruined windmill (!) and set ablaze, without possibility of resurrection or a sequel. Not just the EPA but all them; it's time to give self-government a chance again. All it takes is strong leadership and a lot of willpower. Surely there's a candidate somewhere on the horizon, perhaps undeclared as yet, who answers that description?