Quick Roundup 374

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Visualizing Bureaucracy

HBLer David Hayes recently went to the Law Library of the Library of Congress to do some research on the scope of government regulations -- with ruler and camera in hand:

The Code of Federal Regulation (abbreviated CFR) is the collection of regulations passed by Federal agencies in the United States.


Viewers of a John Stossel television program on the ABC broadcast network on October 17, 2008, saw Stossel demonstrate that the pages in a single title, when removed from the binding and then attached end to end, rolled out the whole length of a football field and then halfway back again. (Read story, view video) The present web page demonstrates just how much shelf space the regulations occupy when the pages are in their binding and on shelves.

The CFR is spread across ten shelves at the Library of Congress. ...
Be sure to stop by for photos and measurements. Hayes then tackles the United States Code, the laws actually passed by Congress.
All told, the USC of year 2000 occupies 73 inches of shelf lineage. ... When the laws of the United States were codified as the United States Code in 1925, all of the titles combined occupied a single volume.
The next time someone tries to pull a Greenspan, remember these pictures. We are a far cry from capitalism.

More on This from Reisman

In a lengthy post, economist George Reisman provides even more evidence that we do not live under capitalism. As a recent commenter pointed out, he has one of the best quotes regarding the Walter Duranty Alan Greenspan Media's coverage of the financial crisis:
It seems that so long as anyone manages to move or even breathe without being under the control of the government, laissez faire allegedly continues to exist, which serves to make necessary yet still more government controls.

A Nation of Obama, Not Laws?

A friend recently told me about this 2001 video (edited transcript) of Obama, a law professor, denigrating our Constitution for not prescribing "what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf."

Obama may soon be sworn to uphold the Constitution, but here he is -- through ignorance of the nature of individual rights or treachery -- decrying it as a "charter of negative liberties". Too bad that the only way for the government to help one man (aside from defending his individual rights) is to violate the individual rights -- that is, to harm -- another.

Meanwhile, Myrhaf gives us a preview of what life may be like under an Obama regime:
The most benevolent and revered One has been embarrassed recently by Joe the Plumber and the broadcast journalist Barbara West. Both people had the poor judgment to ask Obama or Biden tough questions. Now Joe the Plumber and Barbara West's husband are being investigated. This is what life under Obama will be -- anyone who does not toe the line will find himself subject to intimidation and character smears.
I would add only that past history has already shown us that his supporters had better hope it is convenient for him to pretend to be grateful.

-- CAV


: Added link to David Hayes. (HT: Bill Brown)


Vigilis said...

In a recent interview Associate Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court was asked, "You’ve said that there are too many lawyers in the U.S. Why do you think that?"

Scalia replied, "I don’t mean to criticize lawyers, just the need for so many lawyers. Lawyers don’t dig ditches or build buildings. When a society requires such a large number of its best minds to conduct the unproductive enterprise of the law, something is wrong with the legal system."

The problem as I see it is with too many lawyer-politicians, including Obama.

Gus Van Horn said...

People can vote.

If so many didn't expect the government to do so much for them, Obama would stand the snowball's chance in hell he deserves o getting elected.

Bill Brown said...

I'm not seeing a link to David Hayes photos. Did you accidentally forget to link to it?

Vigilis said...

Gus, of course fools keep voting them in, but which came first a preponderance of lawyer-politicians or the dumbed-downed electorate created by elimination of a basic literacy requirement and spending exorbitantly on failed public education (we both know there has been a failure in teaching economics and capitalism, while room for liberal nonsense (like man-induced climate change, contraception for 8 year olds, etc.) have been accomodated increasingly.

Not all of the indoctrination has come about from educators alone, litigation has forced less teaching of basics to avail time for dependency topics.

Obama is all about favoritism. Is there any doubt in your own mind about the quality of his instruction in capitalism? He is a product of the same, failed system.

Gus Van Horn said...


Fixed it. Thanks!


The huge number of shyster lawyers and bad laws out there is a symptom of the same problem that ultimately gives rise to legions of poorly-educated voters and the wide acceptance of the idea that the government is some sort of sugar daddy for all of us rather than the dangerous, fire-like tool that it actually is.

That problem is that the philosophical ideas that are most commonly held throughout the populace, as I most recently discussed here yesterday, cause men to act (and vote) in ways that foolish.

(This also answers your question in a manner: Men have held beliefs of a philosophical nature since developing the faculty of reason. The legal profession is a new phenomenon. Read on. In a manner it doesn't: In our nation's history, there have always been lawyers and philosophers, some good and most bad.)

Having laws is inherent to any remotely developed civilization, and that fact will mean (if there is any freedom) that there will always be a need for lawyers, although there would be much less a need in a freer society, as Scalia said.

But there is nothing inherent to one's being a lawyer that makes one evil or powerful enough to cause the same level of destruction as bad a philosophy can when millions accept it and start acting on it.


Vigilis said...

Gus, a protest: I have not said lawyers are inherently evil or powerful enough "to cause the same level of destruction as bad a philosophy can ...".

I said, "The problem as I see it is with too many lawyer-politicians...".

What makes lawyer-politicians so powerful compared to non-lawyer politicians are opportunities reserved for their profession alone. When was the last time a non-lawyer was nominated to the Supreme Court? Who was the last "non-lawyer" objectivist with enough cash to win a run for Congress?

Soon we will see legions of lawyers (Democrats alone claim 5,000) at Florida precincts on election day. We have already seen a judge (lawyer-politicians) dismiss a high-profile, voter fraud suit in Ohio.

Elected lawyers (politicians) who vote not to vest more power in their own profession may be doing right for voters, but they hurt themselves with their most powerful colleagues - lawyers!

The last word is yours.

Regards, V

Gus Van Horn said...

"Elected lawyers (politicians) who vote not to vest more power in their own profession may be doing right for voters, but they hurt themselves with their most powerful colleagues - lawyers!"

But what is political power? Ultimately, it is the ability to wield government force. In a semi-free society, what you say has surface plausibility (and lawyers are only one group of people who fall for that argument, overall -- what of all the ordinary voters weighing which candidate will give them more handouts, obtained by power over other voters?).

But the less free a society is, the less power will do for you, because people are not as free or, therefore, productive. As an extreme example, consider the Mugabe regime and how swiftly it would collapse w/o Western aid to prop it up.

Looting politicians, like ordinary criminals, depend on the productivity and mental effort of others to survive. That so many do not understand this reflects the overwhelming penetrance of pragmatism (things will work out "somehow") and altruism (be a master or a slave) in our culture. This is ultimately impractical, and that's not the only thing unattractive about this kind of "life style".

Men have free will, so there is no way to say all individuals would resist the temptation to expand government power, but I maintain that the "temptation" would be easier to resist for most if better ideas had more currency in the culture.