CIVIL DEFENSE PERSPECTIVES
March 1998 (vol. 14, #3) 1601 N Tucson Blvd #9, Tucson AZ 85716 c 1998 Physicians for Civil Defense
REGULATION AND LIFE
Regulation is a benign-sounding concept, and in fact natural regulation is a necessity for all life. When one of the numerous feedback loops in the body goes awry, disease or even death results. Diabetes is one obvious example. The effect of stimulation unbalanced by inhibition is striking in many neurological conditions, such as Huntington's chorea.
In the biosphere, when the ``balance of nature'' is upset- whether by disease, natural climatic change, removal or introduction of predators, or other human activity (say overgrazing)-homeostasis is soon reestablished through natural regulatory processes (though the new balance may seem less desirable).
Voluntary human action-also called a market economy- has regulators too, the most important one being the price of various goods and services. Prices are signals of the value that human beings place on various things. When prices are allowed to fluctuate freely, supply and demand are brought into equilibrium. Neither shortages nor gluts last very long.
The regulatory mechanism for government is called ``checks and balances.'' Recognizing the inevitable hazards of government power, the American Founders set up three independent branches, each of which could check the power of the others.
Now, the United States is trying a very hazardous experiment: granting increasingly broad powers to a fourth branch of government, which effectively has uncontrolled legislative, executive, and judicial functions all rolled into one. It is even more dangerous when that authority is an international one.
While these powers may be called ``regulatory,'' they have little in common with natural feedback mechanisms. The powers are vested in a bureaucracy that enjoys sovereign immunity and has no accountability to an electorate. Legislators and courts are increasingly reluctant to intervene-especially when the regulatory rationale is the protection of public health and safety.
It is increasingly clear that regulation has become a euphemism for rationing, and Newspeak for naked, unbridled power.
The agenda and modus operandi of federal regulators is clearly outlined in a memorandum prepared by the Dept. of Justice for the Clinton Health Care Task Force:
``Past systems of wage and price controls have been designed to assure that transactions take place at a reasonable price, rather than to prevent certain transactions from taking place at all. A health care system that imposes a cap on total costs could operate...to prevent certain types of medical treatment from taking place at all....Where the treatment sought is medically necessary-and particularly where a life-threatening condition is involved-it is entirely possible that the courts would impose some constitutional limits on the Government's ability to impose, for economic reasons, restrictions on a patient's ability to obtain treatment for which he or she is willing to pay.''
The memorandum proceeded to explain mechanisms to circumvent that difficulty-which can be adapted to other types of controls and other areas of the economy (which may be less protected than life-saving medical treatment). One method is the ``public-private partnership'' (how about with the ``NGOs'' favored by the UN?): ``The Supreme Court has allowed private entities to become very heavily involved in federal regulatory schemes without becoming governmental actors subject to due process restrictions.''
The same memorandum refers to the Clean Air Act as a sample of a ``cooperative federalism scheme'' under which the federal government implements a statute if a state fails to do so under a federally approved plan. This is the Act being used as the basis for severe restrictions on all manner of economic activity, in order to regulate ``pollution'' due to particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5s). It is also the ``Clean Air Act'' that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants to use as a mechanism for implementing the as-yet-unratified Kyoto ``global warming'' treaty.
The government wants to place bureaucratically determined ``caps'' on medical services; on particulate emissions (and on the farming, construction, gardening, motor vehicles, and industry that produce them); and on carbon dioxide (the building block of all life having been redefined as a ``pollutant'').
The rationale is the same for each: a health crisis. Uninsured Americans; fine particles said to cause ``up to 60,000'' American deaths per year; and mild temperature increases, which will be amplified by atmospheric and oceanic feedback mechanisms to cause diverse catastrophes, from the melting of the Arctic icecap to the freezing of Europe to malaria outbreaks.
The dire predictions are supposedly backed up by ``consensus'': the agreement of the selected experts invited to participate in the Health Care Task Force; EPA scientists; and allegedly all but 20 or so scientists (who must be ``shills for big oil'' or they wouldn't question Global Warming).
In fact, most physicians do not agree that America is having a health care crisis. Not even the EPA's own scientific panel gave an unqualified endorsement of its new particulate regulations. And the myth of a scientific consensus about global warming is being exploded by the Petition Project described in the March, 1998, issue of Access to Energy. Despite the more than $2 billion spent to produce support for global climate catastrophe, the consensus appears to be against it.
The responsibility for the manufactured crises is no longer assigned to Big Industry alone, but to Everyone. Enforcement, according to a $1.9 billion Clinton proposal, would permit criminal prosecution of anyone who even ``attempts'' to commit an ``environmental crime,'' even inadvertently.
As to accountability for counterproductive regulations or botched enforcement, there essentially is none. Moreover, in contrast to the flexible regulatory mechanisms of living things, bureaucrats themselves are bound by iron rules that they cannot bend just because the strictures may be stupid and unjust.
Proponents of the regulatory regime routinely portray the cost of compliance as minimal (Clinton claims Kyoto will cost the average household between $70 and $110 per year) and the cost of noncompliance as the extinction of life on earth.
The economic costs, however high (see p. 2), are not the most important ones. Caps on medical services, economic activity, and energy use are caps on life itself, especially human life. This is the underlying theme of seemingly unrelated crisis responses. As environmentalists' own words show, the overarching goal is unregulated government and death.
A recent report by the Alexis de Tocqueville Institute notes that unlike many other crimes such as murder, burglary, and fraud, in the environmental realm it is not necessary for a person to intend to commit a criminal act for it to be a crime.
``Thus, an inadvertent killing of another might be manslaughter, negligence, or simply an unfortunate mistake. In contrast, inadvertent discharge of a pollutant gives rise to criminal liability regardless of the state of mind of the discharger.'' Expansion to include attempted crimes-proposed by the EPA, quashed by the Bush Administration, and proposed again by Clinton in 1996-would create whole new fields of potential prosecutorial abuse (Gray, CB, Marzulla, RJ, and Shanahan, JC, ``Attempted Environmental Crimes: a Flawed Concept,'' cited by Bonner Cohen in Land Rights Letter, December, 1997).
The intent of environmentalists is shown in their writings, cited in the November, 1997, issue of The DeWeese Report (American Policy Center, 13873 Park Center Rd. #316, Herndon, VA 20171, (703)925-0881).
``The only really good technology is no technology at all. Technology is taxation without representation levied by an elitist species upon the rest of the natural world'' (a publication of Friends of the Earth).
``No other species on earth...has had the nerve to put forth a concept called economics, in which one species, us, declares the right to put value on everything else on earth'' (David Suzuki, Canadian zoology professor).
``A large percentage of humanity [is an] ecological redundancy'' (Christopher Manes). The optimum human population is estimated at 100 million (Arne Naess) or zero (David Foreman of Earth First!).
Although a number of government agencies prepared comments critical of the EPA's proposed rules on PM2.5s, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) stopped them from being submitted. A USDA official who insisted on anonymity said: ``[T]here was so much discord and problems with the proposed new standards they're proposing that they did not want to show the administration was so fractured....Instead of handing in written documents, they've established some kind of interagency working committees to iron out problems. But they will be behind closed doors'' (Michael Fumento, Polluted Science: the EPA's Campaign to Expand Clean Air Regulations, Washington, D.C.: AEI Press, 1997).
``As a scientist, I am asking what role do I have?'' wrote Dr. Robert Phalen of the Air Pollution Health Effects Laboratory, University of California, referring to the purported 60,000 deaths from pollutants, which emerged after a computer was fed hospitalization data plus air quality data from some central location. ``If that number is the kind of `evidence' on which public health policy is made, why have medically trained scientists at all?''
``Politicians are also in a tough spot,'' he continued. ``If you talk to many politicians one-on-one, he or she will acknowledge that the science isn't there, but assert that one's political career cannot handle opposing these newly-proposed standards. No one in politics can afford to appear disinterested in public health'' (Phalen, RF, Living and Dying in Dirty Air: What the Science Tells Us, Washington Roundtable, George C. Marshall Institute, 1730 K St, NW Suite 905, Washington, DC 20006-3686, (202)296-9655).
Some ``consensus'' in the business community concerning the Kyoto Treaty may be purchased with a proposed $6.3 billion package of research grants and tax credits (EPA Watch, 3/6/98, 1725 DeSales St NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20036, (202)739-0179).
``In its convoluted formulas and arcane language, the [Kyoto] treaty bears a striking resemblance to the First Lady's ill-fated health-care plan of 1993-94....A grandiose scheme, at the center of which is an international regime designed to control the use of energy, is even more ambitious in scale than Ira Magaziner's multi-layered, bureaucratic super-structure that was to ration the nation's health care'' (EPA Watch 12/21/97).
From the Competitive Enterprise Institute's 1998 installment of Ten Thousand Commandments: Off-budget regulations cost $688 billion in 1997. That is 40% of the size of the entire U.S. federal budget. Agencies issued 4,937 final rules in 1996. Regulations cost the average family $6,800 in 1997, more than 19% of their budget of $35,000 (CEI Update 12/97).
Estimates of the economic impact of CO2 emissions controls by William Nordhaus in his 1994 book, Managing the Global Commons, exceeded those of Mr. Clinton by a factor of at least ten. A policy of stabilizing emissions at 1990 levels, throughout the world economy, would cost $7 trillion (1989 dollars). The more extreme measure of reducing emissions in an attempt to stabilize CO2 concentration would cost about $12.5 trillion (Jorgensen DW, Jobs and Capital, Fall, 1997).
Admirers of the late Petr Beckmann will be pleased to know that Fort Freedom is on the Internet at:
Starting from the Main Courtyard, proceed to the ``Buffoons' Quarters, Asylum, and Infirmary'' to find a 1989 New York Times article by Al Gore, entitled ``An Ecological Kristallnacht: Listen.'' Gore writes of impending doom due to a surging human population and the amplification of its ecological impact because of the industrial, scientific, and technological revolutions. He asks: ``Why, once again, do we fail to rally our forces? Much of the world closed its eyes as Hitler marched because the only adequate response was a horrible war many hoped to avoid. Do we now shrink from the unimaginably difficult response demanded by the global environmental crisis, and hope against hope that it will yet prove unnecessary?
``This crisis is so different from anything before that it is hard to believe that it is real. We seize scientific uncertainties, however small, as excuses for inaction. Some, like Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in Munich, would rather adapt to the threat than confront it....''
Gore's cost assessment is more realistic than Clinton's.