Government by Regulation

Thursday, December 02, 2010

If Obama achieves nothing else -- and I hope that is the case -- he will have at least made the dangers of the welfare state much clearer to many Americans by the end of his term. One such danger is the circumvention of both the will of the people and certain checks and balances by the Executive Branch, specifically by machinations of established bureaucrats, including administrative tacitcs by the President.

I have my differences with Phyllis Schlafly, and there are things I disagree with in her latest column, but she outlines quite a few examples of the danger I just mentioned. In addition to discussing new EPA regulations, aspects of ObamaCare, and card check (which I mentioned here recently), she lays out the following stunner regarding treaties:

The Obama administration is also toying with a plan to substitute administrative regulations for treaties. Several years ago, the Council on Foreign Relations fingered the treaty provision of the U.S. Constitution as its most objectionable section, and now an ex-Clinton administration State Department bureaucrat, James P. Rubin, has floated a New York Times op-ed suggesting that treaties are not "worth the trouble anymore," and we should substitute domestic regulations.


This frustration broke into print because there are not enough Senate votes to ratify the New START Treaty that Obama signed with Russia. Rubin's solution is to ditch the ratification process and substitute executive agreements and pronouncements.
How we got to this point illustrates the power of a bad precedent (i.e., what can happen once a rational principle is violated):
Rubin reminds us that after it became clear the Senate was not going to ratify a climate-change treaty, Obama just used EPA regulations, and so we can do likewise with arms-control treaties. Let's just ignore the Constitution and let Obama bureaucrats make all important decisions.
Only the problem is deeper than ignoring the Constitution, which can be changed, anyway. The problem is that we long ago "chucked aside," as President Bush might have put it, the idea that the proper purpose of a government is to protect individual rights, and with it, the notion of government having a proper scope.

For all the good connections Schlafly makes in her article, she herself illustrates the pervasiveness of this problem when she refers to the EPA's "overregulation." For most of its stated mission, there is no such thing as a proper amount of regulation. It should be abolished.

Our problem isn't that the government is too big, or that the wrong big-government party is in power. It's that too many of us accept things it has no business touching at all as part of its job.

-- CAV

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