Wednesday, September 25, 2019


Despite what some might tell you, I am not against all regulation and oversight.  That would be foolishly optimistic in a societal and economic system that has humans participating in it.  Where there are humans there is greed and where there is greed, there is the opportunity for things to get out of control.  And that contributes to the imbalances we have in wealth in our country.  The “haves and have nots” mentioned in previous blogs.

There are literally thousands of laws that provide for government regulation of business and commerce and literally hundreds of agencies to oversee and enforce those laws.  Some are more effective than others.  Some provide protections for normal citizens that serve viable purpose.  Some are simply stumbling blocks that impose excessive and unnecessary regulation that stifle growth and increase cost to the taxpayers. And still others are a combination of the two.

An example of legislation that has provided unnecessary regulation is Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes- Oxley.  Dodd-Frank was legislation enacted after the banking crisis of 2008 where greed created a collapse of financial markets. Among the core objectives of both the Dodd-Frank Act and the global regulatory reform effort are: enhancing regulators' ability to monitor and address threats to financial stability and strengthening both the prudential oversight and resolvability of systemically important financial institutions (SIFIs).  The problem is this regulation was so far over the top that it choked off economic growth and regulated the industry, not just banking, to the ground.  This is an example of legislation that needs to be repealed and/or revised to be more practical, less burdensome and less costly. 

Sarbanes Oxley was legislation that was supposed to guarantee organizational integrity within corporations.  It is an example of one of the most invasive, overreaching and costly overreactions in recent memory.  It has cost American business billions of dollars in unnecessary paperwork and oversight.  A friend of mine who was the President and CEO of a $ 450 million dollar building materials company with nearly 20,000 employees estimated the cost to his bottom line was over a million dollars a year just to handle the paperwork requirements for compliance and it didn’t improve organizational integrity one bit; in fact, it set them back in that regard.  This is legislation that should be repealed immediately.

A government regulatory body that is somewhere in the middle is the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA); a division of the Department of Health and Human Services.  This organization, among other things, sets standards for and monitors the safety of food and drugs in the United States.  It has a budget of over $ 15 billion dollars and over 15,000 employees.  The work this organization does in securing food safety is admirable, given the limited number of inspectors, and their standards are reasonable.  Their drug arm is much less effective. 

The FDA has testing standards for new drugs that are excessive.  The process by which a pharmaceutical company must apply for FDA approval can take up to ten years and requires everything from animal to human trials, numerous lab tests and systemic reviews that cost hundreds of million dollars per drug.  Some of the drugs still under review have been available and have been working effectively and safely in other countries for years before they are approved and made available to Americans living in the United States.  To recover the expense of this excessive testing prior to approval, pharmaceutical companies must charge more for their drug in the US, sometimes three to four times what they can afford to make them available for in other countries.  To incentivize the pharmaceutical companies to complete this rigorous testing procedure and compensate them after approval, the US grants extended patent protection which allows the drug companies to maintain excessively high prices, without competition from generic manufacturers, for up to seventeen years.  In addition, it makes drugs that are approved in other countries but still under review in the US illegal to be brought into our country even though online availability exists and is prevalent.

It would be easy to assume that this system has produced a safety net for drugs introduced in the US that exceeds that of other countries, but that is just not the case.  In fact, since 1962 when the FDA’s powers were substantially increased, the number of deaths from not having a drug in a timely manner exceeds by millions the number of deaths caused by faulty drugs of any kind; a death rate that is exceedingly low comparatively speaking.  This needs to be changed and drug companies should not receive patent protection and make excessive profits that exceeds their approval costs by billions of dollars per drug per year over excessive periods of time.

In my opinion, the guiding principal for regulation, and new legislation that produces new regulation, is a thorough cost benefit analysis that matches a real benefit to the impact it produces and keep government out of the free marketplace as much as possible.  It's called Free Enterprise.  More on that later.

I welcome any comments you might have on this subject.

Monday, September 2, 2019


Who can argue that this issue isn’t at the heart of our nations guaranteed freedoms?  Even though the word is only used twice in the Constitution with amendments, our founding fathers established a democracy that respected religious freedom.  However, it is true that the Constitution is a religiously neutral, secular, political document. And yet hordes of people are scared to death of it.

This is one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted parts of the Constitution.  Would it surprise you to know that nowhere in the Constitution are the words, “separation of church and state”?  The 1st Amendment regarding this issue relates to a prohibition on the government from promoting one religion over another.  The specific language is:  Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”. The Supreme Court has modified this constitutional guarantee over the years with judgments that, I believe, have taken the intent of the founding fathers and perverted it; creating this idea of separation of church and state (see my blog on the Justice System in subsequent posts).
When President Dwight Eisenhower petitioned Congress to change our Pledge of Allegiance to include the phrase, “under God”, the outcry from “separationists” was mild compared to later challenges attempting to get it removed.  Ironically, the Supreme Court never ruled on the constitutionality of this, but only that a noncustodial parent did not have standing in federal court to allege that his child's school violated the Establishment Clause by leading students in the recital of the phrase "one nation under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.  Time will tell if others might not challenge it. 

Bottom line, having a Crèche on the front lawn of the county courthouse during the Christmas season is NOT, in my opinion, a violation of the Establishment Clause.  First of all, Congress was not involved.  Second, no law was passed requiring it to be there.  And, thirdly, having it there doesn’t prohibit anyone else from the free exercise of their personal religious practice or lack thereof.  This is the highest form of “political correctness” that has so many people furious and contributed to the backlash which put a marginally qualified individual in the presidency.  So which would you rather have?  A Crèche or a Trump?

O.K., so I just offended someone didn’t I?  Trump fans calm down.  Separationists, be cool.  The problem is we also have a thing in this great nation of ours called:


This is also one of our most cherished liberties.  This guarantee under the 1st Amendment of our Constitution makes our society the envy of the world.  It gives every citizen the right to articulate their position or opinion on anything, at any time and any place without fear of retaliation, censorship or sanction, subject only to the “harm principle”.  This principle says that the only way freedom of speech can be impinged is if it prevents a fellow citizen from enjoying the same right.  Unfortunately, in our society today, this principle is being used to attack our constitutionally-mandated freedom of speech.

Today, on college campuses across the country and other public places, “safe zones” are being created.  These are specific areas where an individual or a group can exercise their freedom of speech but they must remain inside those boundaries so as not to offend someone else or cause anxiety.  The concern is for political and social “correctness” to be maintained and this is a direct and onerous assault on our 1st Amendment right. Actions like these and others have caused a monumental backlash in our country. So much of a backlash that a person with little significant qualifications got himself elected President by capitalizing on people who are sick of “correctness”.  O.K., Trump fans, NOW you can go crazy.

Now, I am not saying I am for abusing others with our speech. With the right to freedom of speech comes the responsibility to use it wisely and cause no harm (and this includes bullying), but that, in no way, should be used as an excuse to allow infringement.

The courts will eventually determine whether these “safe zones” and other efforts to squash freedom of speech are unconstitutional.  In the meantime, I, for one, will relish my freedom, as demonstrated here.

As usual, and in the spirit of free speech, I welcome your comments: