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Trust Matters

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On the morning after the Supreme Court issued perhaps its most politicized decision ever, the headlines seem to be elsewhere.  Oh, there is coverage of the decision, but the shear volume of stories on Brexit, Trump, and to some extent Clinton just outweighs that coverage immensely.  It leaves one feeling as if abortion is now simply baked into the cake that is America, something that leaves this writer deeply saddened, and mournful.  At the same time, given where the nation is right now, talking about it, pointing out the problems with the decision, arguing with the justices in the court of public opinion is just spitting in the wind.  The word has come from Olympus, it is pointless for mortals to disagree.

Which is part of the problem, Americans don’t like having to swallow unappetizing garbage from the courts or an out of control bureaucracy.  I know there are people that think this is the best thing since sliced bread, and as heinously wrong as I think they are, I can deal with a nation that makes accommodation for their convictions provided it also makes accommodation for mine.  What I have a hard time with is a nation that tells me from on high that my convictions are not as important as theirs.

There was an interesting blog post at the Washington Fee Beacon over night concerning the fact that the EPA has reached a new high in requiring paperwork from the regulated community.

“Years of regulatory accumulation, especially under the Obama administration have pushed EPA’s paperwork burden to its highest level in history,” the report, written by Sam Batkins, said. “Year after year of new regulatory costs have not only translated into shuttered power plants, but also new reporting and recordkeeping requirements. EPA’s paperwork burden now stands at 188 million hours.”

“To put this in perspective, it would take more than 94,200 employees working full-time (2,000 hours a year) to complete one year of EPA paperwork,” the report continued. “The agency’s burden has surged 23 percent since 2009 and 34 percent since 2002.”

The report found the EPA’s increase in paperwork burdens is not due to its new major regulations, but to new requirements for regulations already on the books.

That last paragraph speaks volumes.  Adding reporting burden to existing regulations is a way in which the government expresses distrust of the regulated community.  No longer is it enough that we tell you you HAVE to do something – now we are going to make you prove to us that you did it in exactly the fashion we demand it and to exactly the extent we want.  Perhaps an analogy would help.  Most people speed from time-to-time.  Suppose the government passed a law that said you now have to put a small electronic module in your car that used GPS to determine your location and read your speed from your cars computer.  Then once a month, you had to plug that module into the internet and the government analysed the data and determined how many times you had violated the speed laws and fined you for every one of them.  I think most people would find that more than a bit intrusive.  That is essentially what all this paperwork burden is doing with regards to EPA regulation.

David Gerson has a piece this morning that does a good job of analyzing part of what is going on right now, even if I disagree how he thinks we got there and his proposed solution.  He correctly sees how the cultural changes that have been wrought in recent decades have created societal rifts.  He notes the different values between generations right now, but he acts like that is somehow unique. It’s not, there has been a “generation gap” certainly throughout my lifetime – only I am no longer the disaffected youth, I am the stodgy old guy.  There is a difference though, and that is the rampant cynicism of current youth.

I think that cynicism comes from two places.  One is the failure of my generation to successful model our values – not espouse them, model them.  I’m going to leave that there for you to think about on your own and what you can do about it in your own life.

The second source of the cynicism comes from the fact that it has become to some extent pointless to try and carve your own path through life.  There is no accommodation for a different way of thinking, or creativity generally for that matter.  Edicts come down from on high with massive demands that you prove you are following the edict in the most minute of detail.  Our society now comes with a presumption of guilt and a necessity to prove your innocence rather than the other way around.

Our government does not trust us – Cynicism is a pretty natural response to that.

People are clearly thrashing around right now – they know things are not as they should be.  Restoring faith to its rightful place will go a long way to solve that problem, but for that to happen and for people to begin to be receptive to it, the onerous boot heel of our government must be lifted.  Our government has to trust us once again to make our own decisions.


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