Archive for July 13th, 2008

McCain says he is modeled after Teddy Roosevelt.  I’m not writing this to make a point, or be exhaustively thorough, or anything like that.  I’m throwing stuff out there to see if anyone has any thoughts on the issue of McCain if he were to actually be the New Roosevelt.

A few things about Roosevelt:

Except universal health care and national health insurance, it sounds good so far, I guess.  Balanced conservation that doesn’t say 100% of the time “Man is Bad” isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

One thing… he wasn’t afraid to grow the size of the federal government in the Progressive name.  For better or for worse…

Roosevelt firmly believed: “The Government must in increasing degree supervise and regulate the workings of the railways engaged in interstate commerce.” Inaction was a danger, he argued: “Such increased supervision is the only alternative to an increase of the present evils on the one hand or a still more radical policy on the other.”[42]

His biggest success was passage of the Hepburn Act of 1906, the provisions of which were to be regulated by the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). The most important provision of the Act gave the ICC the power to replace existing rates with “just-and-reasonable” maximum rates, with the ICC to define what was just and reasonable. Anti-rebate provisions were toughened, free passes were outlawed, and the penalties for violation were increased. Finally, the ICC gained the power to prescribe a uniform system of accounting, require standardized reports, and inspect railroad accounts. The Act made ICC orders binding; that is, the railroads had to either obey or contest the ICC orders in federal court. To speed the process, appeals from the district courts would go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ok, stopping bad guys’ business practices.  That sounds ok, doesn’t it?

In response to public clamor (and due to the uproar cause by Upton Sinclair’s book The Jungle), Roosevelt pushed Congress to pass the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, as well as the Meat Inspection Act of 1906. These laws provided for labeling of foods and drugs, inspection of livestock and mandated sanitary conditions at meatpacking plants. Congress replaced Roosevelt’s proposals with a version supported by the major meatpackers who worried about the overseas markets, and did not want small unsanitary plants undercutting their domestic market

Uh oh. Now we start to have our argument “how much regulation and how much big government is ok?”  See, creating all these big federal entities gets closer and closer to what the founding fathers wanted to avoid – a huge government that took over the rights of the states.  You can make all kinds of arguments and I’m not trying to here, I’m just pointing out the issues I wonder about sometimes.

Well, hell. I’m not really trying to make a case as to good or bad, but if you’re going to say you follow somebody’s model, people ought to ask themselves if they know enough about that model.


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As usual, if someone comes up with an idea that they say is groundbreaking you should be cautious.  If they say it is revolutionary, you should be doubly cautious.  If the claim is that it will Change Life Forever, run.

This falls in there somewhere. Problem with lots of green solutions is that they would have already been used if they were the cure.  This issue suffers because information blitzes that aid one’s own investments tend to be a bit biased and rosy.

… First, it’s worth noting Pickens’ claim made in the op-ed that his plan requires no new government regulation. Two sentences later, however, he calls on Congress to “mandate” wind power and its subsidies. Next, Pickens relies on a 2008 Department of Energy study claiming the U.S. could generate 20 percent of its electricity from wind by 2030.

Setting aside the fact that the report was produced in consultation with the wind industry, the 20-by-2030 goal is quite fanciful.

Even if wind technology significantly improves, electrical transmission systems (how electricity gets from the power source to you) are greatly expanded and environmental obstacles (such as environmentalists who protest wind turbines as eyesores and bird-killing machines) can be overcome, the viability of wind power depends on where, when and how strong the wind blows — none of which is predictable. …

One common feature of all “cure for the world’s pain” ideas is that they usually rely on government mandates rather than capitalism to become acccepted.   Just because an idea sounds good does not mean that it is possible to run it as a business.

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