Republicans often (always) say that ALL regulations are bad. Seemingly they advocate for a return of the Wild West. They cite no benefit of the regulations except for the dreaded Democratic trial lawyers, and that regulations are driving businesses away to other countries—then those that stay are too crippled to do anything.  Think of Love Canal—-a housing project for young people built on a dump site—the children playing in the yards all became very sick—it was only the Environmental Protection Agency that could restore their lives: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_Canal.

With the election of Donald J. Trump and the defeat of “policy geek” Al Gore in 2000, the title of this post “Regulations and Life” may be immediately suspect by a majority of Americans.  Republicans have been admonishing regulations for many years without much substance to back up their claims (and it works because the need for regulations and the way they are written are just too COMPLICATED for the average American).  In fact, Trump’s Inaugural address, “The American Carnage” makes the point that regulations, policies and politicians are what divide our government from ‘We The People.’

In other words, it is EASY TO MAKE REGULATIONS THE ENEMY.  Yet, they can be the working man’s savior.

Regulations promote innovation and standards. When Chemical X is banned from spraying on plants because it is cancer causing to the workers; someone has to come up with Chemical Y—do a patent, test it and then sell it and then make all the money that Chemical X use to make.  And speaking of spraying it wasn’t illegal to directly spray workers with pesticides, herbicides and other things until Cesar Chavez got the laws changed in the 1970’s—after many instances of field workers falling down ill after being sprayed.

The attack on Regulations by the Donald J. Trump Administration has begun:

Search:
1000 regulations that would be gotten rid of on day one + Heritage Foundation
Cato Institute

http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2016/05/obama-era-regulations-now-top-$100-billion-annually

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/364215/why-do-we-have-excess-regulation-and-can-we-get-rid-it-veronique-de-rugy

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/these-8-federal-agencies-are-the-worst.-heres-how-to-fix-them/article/2583708

Here are 1,304 well sourced examples of Obama’s lying, lawbreaking, corruption, cronyism, hypocrisy, waste, etc. https://danfromsquirrelhill.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/obama-252/

http://www.thomhartmann.com/blog/2016/03/big-lie-left-anti-business

http://www.mintpressnews.com/pants-on-fire-analysis-shows-60-of-fox-news-facts-are-really-lies/205563/

 

This is a editorial I wrote a few years back on Regulations in New Mexico my home state:

Regulatory Reform in New Mexico
Response to Rio Grande Foundation’s Paul Gessing.

Regulatory Reform is a valid part of continuing government and should be in place permanently. This Rio Grande Foundation project is a valiant effort but in many ways shows a great naivety about both the purpose of government and the functions of government. Disclaimer, I am a retired State of New Mexico employee and have written regulations as well as participated in past government Regulatory Reform efforts. Over the years, in both state and federal governmental efforts, there have been some good attempts and some doomed from the start to fail. But the key to understanding regulations is that they are an attempt to clarify what is not specified in law by Congress or our own N.M. State Legislature. Very often regulations are made by boards and commissions who are political animals of their own making. They are contributors to political campaigns and receive appointments on this basis; not necessarily on how much they know about an industry or how much they care about good government. So their self interest is to protect their own industry to regulate or eliminate competition in the market place by a consensus of those engaging in that business. They do make it harder to break into the industry.

So this is the environment, now let’s talk about some past efforts. Lt. Governor Jack Stahl (under Gov. Carruthers) had a “Regulatory Reform” effort that showed a certain ignorance of statutory and administrative law, and it consequently failed. It was more about press conferences and the glorification of the Republican Party than it was about results.

Lt. Governor Casey Luna was tasked with a “Democratic response” to the Stahl efforts by Governor Bruce King and he got sidetracked with being cold shouldered by the old-time King Bureaucrats and he consequently decided to run for Governor and stopped working on the regulatory reform project.

So in steps political neophyte Gary Johnson and his Lt. Governor Walter D. Bradley and they too decide there is some political hay to be made about Regulatory Reform. Bradley was a multi-term legislator and I thought he would understand what needed to be done. When I met with him, he was mystified that there was an administrative law in the United States and in New Mexico we had a New Mexico Administrative Code. His boss being a strict libertarian believed in the Code of the Wild West (perhaps only shoot first and ask questions later). So needless to say the dozens of Regulatory Reform meetings were a waste of time.

During this time great strides were being made at the federal government.

Our best national answer to “Regulatory Reform” would have been to elect Al Gore. I know that we elected “the guy we most would likely have a beer with” George W. Bush and we rejected the stiff caricature of an egg-headed Al Gore, a policy wonk. But while Clinton was doing his thing with Monica, he let VP Al Gore have free rein of government. Clinton gave Gore a marching order to “streamline government” and to provide a laboratory for state and local governments to follow (which Gore posted to the Internet—but there is another joke we can laugh at). If we had elected Gore, he would have cut 300,000 more federal employees and $300 billion more dollars to a total of 600,000 and $600 billion. Gore’s streamlining of regulations and tax simplification would have blown all our minds. He expanded the role of VP more than any other President (Until Bush let Cheney run amok). Gore set up programs that I studied as a state government employee because we need to improve our dysfunctional bureaucracy. The Reinvention of Government Initiative, the Trust Initiative, the Plain English requirement for writing regulations, the Performance Review, Streamlining,—just many, many programs. In three years, they cut 300,000 jobs and $300 billion dollars annually from the budget. Employees were paid bonuses on ideas they had to trim regulations, eliminate red tape and to streaming process. They set up “senior leaders program” where good performers were shuffled into the poorest performing areas and given a bonus if they could “turn-it around.” They created citizen-led committees that oversaw government operations and made quality management recommendations. They created government award programs and grant programs that federal agencies could access for personnel bonuses if they achieved cost savings (like 5% of the cost savings could go to you in a one-time bonus if you saved the 100%). Employees who once were “rewarded” for squandering budget hold-over money from year-to-year (say with bigger offices and new furniture that was unnecessary) were turning it in. 250,000 pages of regulations were eliminated. They created parking lots were citizens could park up front instead of one mile away, they create email citizen complaint lines, One Stop Shop, etc., etc. This was all written up in a 350 page report I have somewhere. All undone by George W. Bush who stopped all the programs and hired an estimated 6-7 million more federal employees through privatization and the creation of Homeland Security. Managers were hired like Michael Brown the Arabian Horse Association President who let Katrina happen at his watch at FEMA. The political hacks they put in like Bill Bennett who got a $14.9 million contract to design a “No Child Left Behind” test (at a per test copy of $250 which is part of a kickback to Bennett, the $8 million dollar a year gambler, when the tests could be photocopied at about a $1 price tag. The Bushes ended the nuclear reclamation program in Russia (started by Bush’s dad) which allowed 25 nukes to fall into the hands of the Russian Mafia. So we went from competence to lunacy in the name of TOO MUCH GOVERNMENT (yet, the federal government expanded to the largest it has ever been under G.W. Bush—it was only GOP lip service).

The spirit of this Reinvention Program is virtually dead and forgotten. I know of no one talking about it. So electing a Democrat like Obama didn’t get us back on track. Bush took down the “First Government” websites and virtually destroyed the library of reports. The War in Iraq consumed our national interest in becoming a more efficient government. Unfortunately, if we had it in place it could of taken us out of the recession and we wouldn’t be having this posting/discussion to the Blog Facebook. Alas…..

Regulatory Reform is a valid part of continuing and effective government and should be in place permanently. I do not understand why each governor comes in and appoints a Commission or a lead, like his Lt. Governor, and then the initiative dies on the vine. Okay, maybe I know it comes face-to-face with the self-interests and dies that way. But we should be a more mature state than that. This Rio Grande Foundation project is a valiant effort and I hope we have some good dialog here……..

I have debated this “New Mexico has too many public employees” argument for three decades now, and I will look for my paper as a rebuttal. But as far as the “employees being too highly paid”—that is also disputable. What we know now is that state employees are now much lower compensated than municipal and county employee since about 1995. Whereas since the State Personnel Office formed in 1960, and started keeping the stats on salaries since about 1965, state employees made more than their municipal and county counterparts from 1965 to 1995 (with the exception of Los Alamos–federal money— and Lea Counties—oil money). With the disappearance of manufacturing jobs in this country since the 1980’s, and the appearance of Free Trade Acts, average wages have fallen from $18 an hour to $13.50. Yet, if you look at the 1971 minimum wage of a $1.75 and look at the current of $7.25 you might say: “well people are making out better.” But adjusting this 1971 $1.75 wage with a CPI or inflation calculator that you can find on the Internet you see the 2011 rate would be at $13.25. During the Occupy movement protests of 2011, they were talking of a “$20 living wage,” and given all economic calculations that is about right. I know it is a scary thought to employers, especially, small businessmen, but it shows how out-of-whack this economy is. The accumulation of the wealth at the very, very top is the problem; and leaves all us readers fighting amongst ourselves on non-issues like this page.

Growing up I always wondered why a construction contractor had to be licensed, and the answer was always: “so a building doesn’t fall down and hurt someone.” It was an answer I never thought much of until I became a licensed general contractor in N.M. (GB-2 from 1985 to 2000). Of course the licensing is red tape and adds to the cost charged the consumer; but it is the inherent “cost of a civilized society” as Oliver Wendell Holmes said about taxation. As a licensed contractor, I could build any residential home up to $250,000 and had to have a bond to that effect (this is when building square foot costs were $50-100 and not the $200-250 they exploded to). But I could not build anything bigger without a parlay with the Construction Industries Bureau (now division) and an increase in the bonding capacity. Why? It protects the consumer and actually also the builder. So this stuff makes sense. It might be a libertarian rant that Rio Grande Foundation is on but it is not practical or reality. Truth is licensing protects us from me. I am a very good test taker and can qualify for all types of construction licenses by my book knowledge—but I have very little hands-on. I actually passed the written Backhoe Operator’s License without ever having driven a backhoe. Do you want me building your $5 million dollar commercial project with four elevators? I could do it by passing the tests but not in the actual practical application. Also, licensing protects us from illegal aliens coming across the border and building without licenses—even if these people are Juarez’s number one and best builder. Shouldn’t citizens hire citizens and not just the cheapest price? No regulation protects us from ourselves and our dumb ideas of thinking we know everything and could do it better without government. Try living a day without the Interstate Highway system (build by licensed contractors). For people who want to build a house cheaper—New Mexico offers an “Owner-Builder” license and you pass a simple test which I did to build my house and you save 10-20% of the overhead a contractor would have charged you to use his license. My son is a licensed contractor and the costs he must pay in Worker’s Comp, general liability insurance, bonding, etc., is way higher than I ever had to pay. I often signed a waiver affidavit that said I would be self-insured on jobs and I could lower the costs of the red tape. Day 4: Unlicensed contractors for New Mexico is a bad idea.

So if I wanted to defraud some investors, and there were no licensing or bonding requirements for contractors, I could say I am qualified to build their project and there will be no place to check that out because why have the Construction Industries Division anymore, and I would take their money and leave the state and SO SORRY! What kind of a business environment is that? It might be cheaper but too damn risky to bring money into New Mexico.

This is similar to yesterday’s eliminating licensed contractors for New Mexico. Having a LEED certification, does raise prices, but ultimately the consumer saves some $2-5,000 a year FOR THE LIFE OF THE HOUSE. There is no other investment that pays so much in today’s society (that is legal). It also allows creative contractors to become LEED certified and to charge more for their efforts—because the house will be worth more for resale or even just living in it.

Too often we say everything that Gov. Bill Richardson did is bad and must be undone, and that is why we elected Susan Martinez, to undo all the bad. But this is a good thing.

It might be a libertarian rant that Rio Grande Foundation is on but it is not practical or reality. Truth is LEED keeps us safe from Al Qaeda—less dependence on foreign oil.

LEED and HERS are just two of the certification agencies and maybe there is a better standard for New Mexico. I am personally disappointed that the construction with adobe doesn’t meet the standard unless you super-insulate it and that is cost prohibitive. If you need a 4-5 inch Styrofoam or urethane on top of the adobe that is way out of line. Building a 2×4 inch fiberglass wall inside of the adobe is nonsense. Perhaps allowing the use of adobe, especially owner built ones, like I have made—is the direction this should be going for affordability.

Day 5: Removing the LEED standard for New Mexico is a bad idea.

I’m sorry this is for commercial buildings. Many of our counties have already adopted the LEED or HERS for home residences over 2,000 square feet. This is what my first comment is more appropriate for. Having it for “Public Buildings over 15,000 square feet” will over the life of the building make it cheaper for taxpayers to heat, cool and light. Additionally, we in New Mexico are too quick to knock down our old WPA buildings or just build new with steel 2×4’s and sheetrock, and make a building that will not stand the test of time.

This is an interesting report and I should read the site more before I comment in detail.

New Mexico consolidated its boards and commissions for licensing authorities in the 1978 Reorganization of State Government, into the Regulation and Licensing Department (RLD). The licensing boards are usually five members appointed by the Governor and receive per diem and training. This is probably where the 52 occupations come from because there are about that many boards and commissions in RLD.

But let’s look at the Barbers’ Board. You need X hours of training and a license to be a barber. Now even I can cut hair, but I do a terrible job. I can hang up a sign at my house and charge $5 a haircut. Now that is a great price and maybe I will get customers just on the price alone and not have to have a reputation for good haircutting. But if I have no training or inspections I might not know to wash the combs and scissors after each haircut. Also, if I don’t do it, I save time and can keep my overhead down charging even lower prices to the consumer —Rio Grande’s stated goal. What is bad about that?

Well, my nephew got ringworm from a sloppy haircut place. I hear that TB and other diseases (rosietta, shingles, etc.) can be passed if the combs/razors are not sterilized between customers. Yikes, maybe licensing is after all, a good thing!

Thank you John and it seems I have been ranting a little. In Santa Fe County (meaning the County government and citizens like myself) we have developed a Sustainable Growth Management Plan and it deals mainly with a land use code, but it is also a lot of planning. One aspect is the energy use of buildings and whether we want the HERS or LEED certifications. The $2-5,000 figure is quite varied but includes electricity and natural gas costs in our Santa Fe region that might be higher than in Alb.

I got distracted….

So anyway the cost-benefit analysis of whether following a LEED or HERS standard would have to factor in: the cost to heat & cool the home, heat and cooling loss, the cost of lighting and ghost draws, etc.; so whether it would be more beneficial to spend the money for the best quality construction or not? It would be greatly dependent on climate, solar orientation, etc.

New Mexico Public Schools were not even required to be insulated until their Code was adopted in 1996. Our school in Agua Fria were 1966 and 1968 brick buildings with no insulation but a one inch air space between two bricks. Then a lot of north facing skylights that are just screaming let the heated air out while some minimal diffused light is let in. I’m sure some architect somewhere had an idea that the building was beautiful, but there was no concern for heating efficiency or practicality in how the children or others (the janitor) would use the building. It was an adult planning the building and adults are always right. The bathroom doors are 24 inches wide—-many years before ADA and they were intended to be “kid-sized”; how quaint. The janitor can’t even get the mop bucket in there! And during a remodeling the door had to be removed to change out toilets.

I read where Albuquerque Public Schools was spending $20 million, or something to that effect, for just heating—imagine if LEED buildings lowered that to $2 million? I suspect that APS school buildings are also uninsulated like Santa Fe’s School District are (like just brick facades; I think that is worthy of criminal prosecution of the private contractors but then that is another story).

I think Prevailing Wage has been the law since 1938 in New Mexico.

You keep mixing apples and oranges here in this column and it is very misleading. By both federal and state law the Union Dues and the Political Action Committee contributions must be separate, and that is what New Mexico does. But in your piece you mix the two.

Why would you deny the convenience of automatic payroll deduction to employees or in fact the employer who pays with one electronic transfer instead of like 80 paper checks like they use to? When I first started in State Government in late 70’s there was a union office in the PERA building for social workers and every two weeks they had to run to the office and pay their dues. This was a drain on productivity.

I know the underlying theme is: Unions are bad and the plan of the Billionaire Koch brothers through Gov. Scott Walker is good…but let’s try to have a factual discussion.

I have always wondered why you need a MA in Education and X years of teaching to be a principal. Seems like if your only exposure is to the educational system and it is failing, then all you get is more of the same.

In the Santa Fe School District we have a problem where the biggest and poorest performing schools offer the biggest Principal salaries, so if you are about to retire and want to boost your retirement you switch to those schools. So my local elementary had 5 principals in 6 years….which did nothing for the school no matter how good any of those 5 were. Usually, a guy ready to retire is more about kicking back or preparing for going out the door, rather than making lasting change.

CONCLUSION:
All in all, this is a pretty fair summary and gives a few new ideas. The whole series has been an interesting endeavor. However, throughout it, I have pointed out some mistakes and gave some rebuttals that the authors are unable to counter.

Regulation is not all bad and is the prerequisite to a civilized society. Laws or the statues on the books are somewhat vague and need to be to allow the flexibility to allow programs to work or change to be better. Therefore, Administrative Rules are put in place to give public and business staffs guidance and restrictions. This is the bureaucratic nature of our democracy. Some call it red tape, others such as myself, with a degree in Public Administration call it job security.

Comparing Michigan and New Mexico is crazy. In a sense, it is amazing that the authors say we are competitive at all. The government structure is totally different. The transportation factor is a major difference. Distances between commerce areas is much smaller in Michigan. There are canals that link to the Great Lakes and major straight railroad tracks everywhere (here they go up mountains). The abundance of major rivers makes water power cheap while PNM has one of the highest energy costs in the U.S. (the river is also wide and at a minor gravity flow for the ease of barges) Water is overly abundant for cooling off manufacturing where as here Intel’s use of water in a desert is a life or death issue. Highways are in great condition and a number of factors are subsidized by state and local government. Blueberries can be grown there where they cannot be grown in N.M. In fact, just throwing seeds on the ground is enough to establish a crop of just about anything—the soil is soft humus unlike our hardpan and caliche; rainfall will take care of it all. Rust and rot are the biggest concerns of a resident.

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