Monday, April 30, 2007
Remember when Conservatism placed such a huge emphasis on "small government," exemplified by Reagan and Thatcher's cut down on welfare programs, touting of the benefits of privatization, and "fiscal responsibility?" OK, well I don't really either. For the most part, I wasn't alive yet. And let's just say that the level of my policital engagement during the eighties was akin to that of a pre-schooler (consistant with the fact that I was three years old in 1989).

It's been made very apparent throughout the Bush Administration that the conservative ideals of small government and balanced budgets have been given the boot. We are in a war right now, of course (with at least $100 billion to be spent on military operations in Iraq and Afghanastan in 2007, almost ensuring that the Congressional Budget Office's prediction of a mere $172 billion defecit this year will look like a complete farce). I mean, come on, it's war people! If you want to win, win win, you gotta spend, spend, spend-as long as the right guy (i.e. the president) believes in that doctrine (and he does), then obviously any dissent from Congress, American citizens, or accountants is completely unfounded. It's war and since we evidently have money growing on trees in the war chest forest, one shouldn't take the budget too seriously.

I'm not sure I can keep up this sarcastic tone for the rest of the article because it's making me tired. The reality of the situation is that our President and his personal (ideologically similar/identical) circle is shitting on some of the basic tennents of the Repbublican Party. A balanced budget? That concept seems pretty alien given these last few years. I know we're at war. But shooting down any notion of fiscal responsibility, as the President has done throughout his tenure and especially in this war, is a problem. Not addressing it is a problem. Certainly, massive tax-cuts won't do it. The administration has given no indication of any effort to reconcile this problem. The President's almost hegemonic power since taking oath (remember: those "judicial" and "legislative" parts of the government? They are, in theory, there to provide a system of checks and balances) and ability to pump a seemingly endless amounts of money into our efforts in the Middle East is truly astonishing. It should be astonishing whether you agree with our war or like the man himself.

Let's talk about this whole hands off, "small government" thing, too. This government doesn't even know how many people it employs. But that's not even the worst part.

Just the other day, President Bush signed an executive order that creates a regulatory committee, whose individual members are to oversee administrative agencies related to public health, privacy, and the environment. These are men appointed by the man himself to be the "gatekeepers" of their respective agencies. In this case, "gatekeeping" means ensuring that the president's political adgenda is enforced and embedded within new regulations and legislation.

From the NYT article:
This strengthens the hand of the White House in shaping rules that have, in the past, often been generated by civil servants and scientific experts.
Well isn't that special? Or rather, outrageous. According to the article, business groups support this measure because it'll reduce bureaucratic over-regulation. Hmmm... yes, adding another "made" (you konw, in with the big guys) appointee at the head of each agency rids our administrative state of its fragmented and bureaucratic nature. Ya know, more equals less. But the support of business groups is obviously consistant, what with the want for lowering regulations and the government being pro-business (and in the pockets of special-interests). But how about the prospect of a Bush appointee essentially heading the EPA so that scientific research and environmental protection only have policy and regulation goes through a filter of "intelligent design" or "global warming doesn't exist, silly!"

Let's take, for example, some recent developments in what looks to be some conflict between the Administration and the EPA and its scientists. Mind you, this is an agency that will undoubtedly be reporting to more administration officials under the President's new executive order. Qualified scientists hired to provide the scientific, empirical research upon which to base the country's environmental policies and procedures. You know, the ones who do the research. Who've spent a majority of their lives learning, refining, and pushing our knowledge of the environment in which we live further than we once thought possible. OK, just getting that out of the way.

From the President's State of the Union address on January 23:
Tonight, I ask Congress to join me in pursuing a great goal. Let us build on the work we have done and reduce gasoline usage in the United States by 20 percent in the next 10 years
OK. Well that's not so bad. I mean, gosh, the President wants to get serious on some important environmental issues. What's so bad here? I think everyone can applaud this statement.
...we must increase the supply of alternative fuels, by setting a mandatory Fuels Standard to require 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels in 2017...
and......we need to reform and modernize fuel economy standards for cars the way we did for light trucks — and conserve up to 8.5 billion more gallons of gasoline by 2017.

Yes! Improve fuel economy standards! Bad news for automakers, who thrived so long on the profit-margins of trucks and SUV's and lax regulation. It'd be nice if he could've proposed some new regulations and goals for other industries that contribute to the various ills of the environment (both in the production process and the waste process)... but it's a start, right? So what is the President's alternative-energy solution? methods of producing ethanol — using everything from wood chips, to grasses, to agricultural wastes.

So by 2017, we're gonna be a lean, mean, ethanol-producing machine.


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