Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Why Congress Will Make Things Worse

By Alan Caruba

Does it strike anyone as odd that the Detroit auto manufacturers and the governors of a number of States, along with every other lobbyist in Washington keep looking to Congress to “fix” the problem of the nation’s economy when Congress is the reason it is teetering on disaster?

Expecting a Congress that is guilty of gross malfeasance to save the economy is to engage in the theatre of the absurd.

How often did Chris Dodd or Barney Frank assure us that everything was just dandy over at Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac? How many thousands of ways has Congress interfered in the marketplace to require, for example, that auto manufacturers make cars no one wants to buy because they are grossly inefficient and expensive?

Recently, Wayne Crews, vice president for policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, offered a number of extraordinarily common sense recommendations which, if Congress were to act upon them, would fairly speedily secure the economy. Here are some:

Congress could start by reining in the $1 trillion regulatory system that drains this appalling amount of money out of the economy for no other purpose than to respond to the paperwork and frequently idiotic rules set down by the many agencies of the federal government. Eliminating the Endangered Species Act would be a very good start.

U.S. agriculture programs that have been around since the days of the Great Depression are in great need of reform. Paying farmers not to plant in a time when such decisions are based on vast amounts of crop information available to farmers is idiotic. Requiring that ranchers put an identification tag on every single creature they raise borders on madness.

Congress also needs to act swiftly to repeal all subsidies and mandates regarding ethanol additives to gasoline. They have caused food riots around the world already and both add to the cost of gasoline and reduce its mileage at the same time. Turning food into fuel is just about the dumbest thing Congress has required.

While they’re at it, repealing government subsidies to wind farms, the primary source of profit to the snake oil salesmen who create them, would save millions and let real energy producers focus on what really works, coal, natural gas, and nuclear.

Excessive accounting rules such as the overly aggressive Sarbanes-Oxley Act do more harm than good as does the mark-to-market requirement that instantly reduces the value of some securities to zero for no good reason.

Congress which, under the leadership of President-elect Barack Obama and the control of the Democrat Party, will now lurch even further to the left than before, needs to recognize the value of hedge funds and private equity for entrepreneurs and shareholders. Crews also urges that stock options should be made available to more workers.

American workers need to be allowed to work without excessive labor regulation and, in the new era of globalization, Crews reminds us that Congress needs to liberalize trade.

America has energy problems precisely because Congress has punished oil companies since the 1970s to a point where mergers have reduced a once thriving industry that explored and extracted this valuable natural resource to a mere handful. And Congress still forbids our oil companies any access to 85% of the continental shelf where a bonanza of oil exists or to a tiny portion of ANWR where millions, if not billions, of barrels of oil go untapped. That is a definition of insanity.

Congress has felt compelled to tell various industries how to operate when, in fact, it needs to get out of the way so that they can compete and perform effectively. It has to stop telling industries from insurance, to energy, to telecommunications what to do. Instead, these and all other industries are bound by federal rules that allow other nations to make gains against them.

Telling banks and lenders they had to make loans to people who clearly could not afford to pay them back is the reason the economy is in trouble!

And, from my point of view, Congress has to stay away from anything that would interfere with our most precious right of free speech and free press. Congress should stay away from ugly ideas like requiring radio and television to offer “balanced” content. That’s as un-American as you can get! Crews warns that Congress should stay away from Net and E-commerce regulation.
What we have in Congress, however, are a bunch of environmental zealots for whom the actual science disproving “global warming” is meaningless.

This crisis will be seen as an opportunity to impose their baseless, murderous view that the planet must be saved from carbon dioxide which, after oxygen, is essential to all life on Earth!

And that is why Congress will make the current crisis worse by far than any common sense solutions implemented by people without an agenda would institute.

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