Tag Archives: new york times

The Myth of Bush the Deregulator

Here’s a letter I sent recently to The New York Times:

May 14, 2010

Editor, The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018

To the Editor:

Your May 12 article “With Obama, Regulations Are Back in Fashion” (page A15) asserts that the Bush administration had a “deregulatory agenda.” If that is true, then President Bush failed miserably in executing it.

His administration added 31,634 new regulations to the books, and repealed hardly any. The cost of complying with federal regulations exceeded $1 trillion for the first time on Bush’s watch. 587,321 new pages were added to Federal Register during the Bush years.*

Even the regulation-intensive Obama administration is passing new regulations at a pace nearly ten percent slower than President Bush.

Contrary to the article, the Bush administration was the best friend regulators have had in a generation or more.

Ryan Young
Warren T. Brookes Journalism Fellow
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Washington, DC

*All data from Wayne Crews, Ten Thousand Commandments.

Regulation of the Day 130: Roommates

In New York City, it is illegal for four or more unrelated people to live together. At least 15,000 New York homes openly flout the rule.

The ranks of lawless hooligans cut across lines of class and race. According to the New York Times, violators “include young actors and ponytailed post-graduates; rising and falling junior investment bankers; immigrants, legal and illegal; and trend-obsessed residents in Brooklyn neighborhoods.”

The Times also interviewed a young film star who lives with five other people. He is not related to any of them.

People break the regulation to save money on rent. Given the cost of living in New York, this is a smart and prudent way to save money. It also leaves more housing left over for others, which helps to drive down housing costs.

Even better, if enough people pool their resources, they can afford to live in a larger home in a nicer neighborhood than they could pay for alone.

The city has the good sense to rarely enforce the rule – just three times since July, according to the Times. This is good. What would be better is to repeal it. When a law is almost universally regarded as counterproductive, not only should go unenforced, it should go away.

Regulation of the Day 125: Salt

Having eliminated all crime from New York’s streets, ended homelessness, rebuilt Ground Zero, and fixed the state’s ailing public schools, New York’s state legislature has set its sights on how much salt you eat.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg already has a plan to reduce NYC residents’ salt intake by 25 percent over five years. But State Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Brooklyn) thinks that doesn’t go nearly far enough. It only covers New York City, for starters. The rest of the state’s salt intake would remain perilously unregulated under the Bloomberg plan.

That’s why Mr. Ortiz has introduced statewide legislation that would “make it illegal for restaurants to use salt in the preparation of food. Period.

A $1,000 fine would accompany each violation.

Tom Colicchio, who owns a restaurant and has appeared on the television show Top Chef, is livid. He told the New York Daily News that “New York City is considered the restaurant capital of the world. If they banned salt, nobody would come here anymore… Anybody who wants to taste food with no salt, go to a hospital and taste that.”

He’s right; the salt ban does offend culinary decency. But there’s another angle that’s at least as important: personal responsibility.
If I want to pile on the salt, as Mayor Bloomberg famously does, that’s my right. But I also need to be liable for the consequences. If chronic salt over-consumption gives me high blood pressure and heart trouble, that’s my fault. I should pay the cost.

But that’s not how the current health care system works. We suffer from the 12-cent problem: on average, people only pay 12 cents for every dollar of health care they consume. Roughly 50 cents are picked up by the government, and insurers cover the rest.
That means people have less incentive to watch what they eat than under a more honest system. Why not rack up huge health care bills? Everyone else is paying for me. Health care on sale! 88 percent off!

Freedom cannot exist without responsibility. Decades of government encroachments in health care have taken away a lot of our responsibility for health care decisions. So it makes some sense that Mr. Ortiz would finish the job by taking away peoples’ freedom to eat what they want.

A better solution would be to have both freedom and responsibility, instead of neither. Ban the salt ban. Give people more control over their health care dollars. Let us be free. Let us be responsible. We’re all adults here. Treat us as such, Mr. Ortiz.

Regulation of the Day 122: Home-Schooling in Germany

It is illegal to home-school your children in Germany. Even so, German parents Uwe and Hannelore Romeike believe home-schooling will give their children a better education than sending them to a school. So they pulled their children out of school, hoping the law would not be enforced.

They were wrong. The New York Times lists what they were threatened with:

[F]ines eventually totaling over $11,000, threats that they would lose custody of their children and, one morning, a visit by the police, who took the children to school in a police van. Those were among the fines and potential penalties that Judge Burman said rose to the level of persecution.

Facing the facts, the family decided to pack up their belongings and move to Morristown, Tennessee.

A Memphis judge recently granted the family asylum so they could remain in the U.S., and so they can educate their children the way they see fit.

The Romeikes’ troubles are not over, however. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is appealing their grant of asylum. It is unclear why the agency would do such a thing. Neither Mr. nor Mrs. Romeike pose a threat to national security. They are not criminals. They are not a drain on the economy; Mr. Romeike earns an honest living as a piano teacher.

American parents don’t have much in the way of educational choice. But it does appears they do have more than German parents do. Immigration and Customs Enforcement should stand up for the Romeikes’ rights.

(Hat tip: Megan McLaughlin)

Stimulus Spending Helps the Few, Hurts the Many

Here is a letter I sent recently to The New York Times:

February 17, 2010

Editor, The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018

To the Editor:

Michael Cooper’s article, “Stimulus Jobs on State’s Bill in Mississippi” (February 16, page A1), lists several people who have directly benefited from the stimulus package.

The article names none of the roughly 300 million people directly hurt by that same stimulus package. The money that pays for Roshonda Bolton’s factory job was taken away from other people. They would have spent that money in other job-creating ways.

The stimulus doesn’t actually create jobs. It rearranges them. The best possible result is no net effect. Stories touting jobs saved or created by government are at best incomplete.

Ryan Young
Warren T. Brookes Journalism Fellow
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Washington, D.C.

Social Security, Health Care, and Partisan Hackery

Megan McArdle points out a delicious piece of partisan hackery.

Back in 2005, President Bush proposed privatizing Social Security. This was one of his few good ideas. But because of poor salesmanship, it was less than popular. Nothing came of it. Rather than press on, The New York Times urged him to cave in, in accordance with the peoples’ wishes.

This year’s health care bill is similarly unpopular. Now The New York Times is urging President Obama to press on, against the peoples’ wishes.

Go read her whole post. It’s great.

This Guy Gets It

Today’s quotation of the day from The New York Times daily email:

“I’m a middle-of-the-road kind of guy. I want the Democrats out of my pocket and Republicans out of my bedroom. The one word I would use for what’s going on in Washington is embarrassing.”

RON VAUGHN, who provides health insurance to his 60 employees at Argonaut Wine and Liquor in Denver.