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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Forelock pulling and pandering

Nonpartisan thinkers seem to agree that the current U.S. president is a Reaganist (often identifying as such in quoting the fortieth president) stupidly bent on disestablishing government and destroying protections that “provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare”
Edited excerpts with comment by Carolyn Bennett

Main text from Professor Amy Sinden’s May article “Administration's Regulatory ‘Look-Back’ Announcement Panders to Industry, Focuses Primarily on Eliminating Regs, Diverts Agencies from Crucial Work.”

U.S. Constitution original document Britannica image
  • Ø  President releases January Executive Order calling for agencies to conduct a regulatory ‘look-back’. 
  • Ø  Administration in May releases target list of health, safety, and environmental standards subject to review by agencies in months following — with eye toward eliminating or modifying them. 
  • Ø  Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, “Regulatory Czar” Cass Sunstein, in same month, has an opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal and gives a speech at the American Enterprise Institute in which she releases the target list and presses right wing, anti-regulatory, government disestablishment rhetoric. “‘Our goal,’” the Czar said, “‘is to change the regulatory culture of Washington by constantly asking what’s working and what isn’t. To achieve that goal, we need to obtain real-world evidence and data.’”

Professor Amy Sinden responds with three points.

“While paying little heed to the numerous threats to public health and the environment that remain unchecked,” Sinden says, “what the White House in January billed “an objective examination of regulations appears to have been transformed into a blatantly one-sided effort to loosen restrictions on industry.…

“The Administration’s pandering to industry on this issue is in danger of doing long-term damage to the important business of protecting Americans from a variety of hazards.”

The third point she makes is that “the entire ‘look-back’ process, launched for apparently political reasons has come at the expense of agency staff and resources that would otherwise have been devoted to finishing much-needed regulations on a variety of health, safety, and environment issues.…

“We are surrounded by evidence of the need for stronger regulation and enforcement.” Critically demonstrative, she points to the most recent BP oil spill, multiple examples of tainted food in the marketplace, the Massey mine disaster.

The president’s ‘look-back’ process “has only added to the agencies’ burdens,” Sinden concludes. “This is what happens in Washington when politics becomes more important than policy.”

Continental Congress Britannica image
We can and must do better than the current fare in Washington and the crop aspiring to sit in that rarefied air and put on airs. We have a truer foundation, a better precedent from which to launch our action. The founders in 1776 declared:

 “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all … are created equal … endowed … with certain unalienable Rights — among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

“… [To secure these rights, Governments are instituted among [people], deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

“… [W]henever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

“Prudence … [dictates] that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes and accordingly all experience [shows] that [human beings] are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

“[However], when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce [the people] under absolute Despotism — it is their right and their duty to throw off such Government and to provide new Guards for their future security.…”

In 1787, the founders further pushed separation of powers and provided checks and balances on the exercise of authority by those who govern, former Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote during the period of the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution. Following the Declaration came the U.S. Constitution (then in 1791 the Bill of Rights).

“We the People of the United States,” the Preamble read, “in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

You’d think a constitutional lawyer would know this stuff, honor its spirit and its precedent and cease pandering, bowing and scraping, pulling his forelock. Embrace the history, motivation and aspirations of these great documents, adhere to their principles and push them courageously and progressively into the 21st century and beyond for all people.

Sources and notes
“Administration’s Regulatory ‘Look-Back’ Announcement Panders to Industry, Focuses Primarily on Eliminating Regs, Diverts Agencies from Crucial Work” (Amy Sinden), May 26, 2011, http://www.progressivereform.org/CPRBlog.cfm?idBlog=2D505F83-93E3-AD07-DF54BE28B9460526

Professor Amy Sinden
Dr. Sinden’s recent publications include: Cost-Benefit Analysis: New Foundations on Shifting Sand; The Tragedy of the Commons and the Myth of a Private Property Solution; Climate Change and Human Rights; Power and Responsibility: Why Human Rights Should Address Corporate Environmental Harms. Professor Sinden’s recent academic writings have criticized the misuse of economic theory in environmental law, arguing against the use of cost-benefit analysis in environmental standard setting and countering claims that private property rights can solve environmental problems in the absence of government regulation.

Amy Sinden is a Professor of Law at the Temple University Beasley School of Law (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.) and has been a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and at the Temple-Tsinghua Masters of Law program in Beijing (Peoples Republic of China). She has taught, lectured, and written in the areas of environmental law, natural resources law, regulatory design, and cost-benefit analysis, human rights, and climate change; and is a member of the board of directors of the Center for Progressive Reform.

Before joining the Temple Law School faculty in 2001, Professor Sinden served as senior counsel for Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future, handling litigation on behalf of PennFuture and other citizens’ and environmental groups. Before that position, she was an associate attorney for Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund (formerly the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund) in Seattle, Washington, where she represented a range of environmental, fishing, and other groups in litigation focusing on endangered species, clean water, and water conservation issues.

Also in Philadelphia, Professor Sinden was an attorney at Community Legal Services where she represented parents in civil child abuse and neglect proceedings and advocated on behalf of welfare recipients seeking job training and education.

Professor Sinden served twice as a law clerk, first for Judge John F. Gerry of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, and later for Judge Dolores K. Sloviter of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. http://www.progressivereform.org/SindenAmyBio.cfm

In Congress, July 4, 1776, The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America [Declaration of Independence excerpt, minor editing]

Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America [excerpt]


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