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Monday, July 04, 2011

It's A Grand Country, But ---

- perhaps we need to get some of the bureaucrats under control. DOE postpones new Energy Star regulations. It turns out that there are minor (cough) problems with the whole program.

Popular Mechanics has examples of the fake appliances certified under the program. My favorite:
2. The Feather-Duster Fly-Strip Air Freshener
Ostensibly an indoor air purifier, this item is actually a standard space heater spangled in strips of flypaper, with a feather duster perched up top.

The product was submitted without a standard safety file number from the Underwriters' Laboratories. Plus, the product's website did not include a disclaimer required for Energy Star certification. Last but not least, the garish photo submitted with the product's application portrays what is clearly a feather duster rigged to space heater. Nevertheless, these obstacles proved surmountable—the product was approved in 11 days and became listed on the Energy Star website.
U 2 Kin B An Inventor!

In another very cool and exciting development, some of the fake products approved were the targets of acquisition attempts by other companies. This is an important issue, because a lot of foreign products clearly don't meet UL standards, and now GAO has apparently proved that all a company has to do is submit fake data (in this case for fake products) in order to get certified. Now one can see that a reputable company might not want to get caught doing this, but once the product has been rated, I suppose a purchasing company could plead innocence. After all, the federal government already approved it!

Read the article, or you won't find out about the gasoline-powered alarm clock.

The GAO report has a very tactful title Covert Testing Shows the Energy Star Program Certification Process Is Vulnerable to Fraud and Abuse:
GAO obtained Energy Star certifications for 15 bogus products, including a gas-powered alarm clock. Two bogus products were rejected by the program and 3 did not receive a response. In addition, two of the bogus Energy Star firms developed by GAO received requests from real companies to purchase products because the bogus firms were listed as Energy Star partners. This clearly shows how heavily American consumers rely on the Energy Star brand. The program is promoted through tax credits and appliance rebates, and federal agencies are required to purchase certain Energy Star certified products. In addition, companies use the Energy Star certification to market their products and consumers buy products relying on the certification by the government of reduced energy consumption and costs.
When I write of "regulation", I write of a system that works like this.

Fraud and abuse? Say it isn't so.

The truth is that any government program that offers financial benefits will be gamed. Why don't the congress critters understand that? The Medicaid, Medicare, SSI, SS disability, and many other programs are being gamed for billion$. Yet they (the Obamaites) turned down a FREE IBM computer program designed to detact fraud and abuse.

I keep writing to my congress critter mentioning same, but he keeps writing back telling me about the federal monies he brought back to the district. (More pork barrel!) And he thinks that's a good thing!
The EPA is a monster that is out of control. Look at what they have done to the good old washing machine through their regulation of washing machines. In a recent comparison, none of the new models could hold a candle to the one of 10 or more years ago, thanks to EPA regulation on the amount of water each machine can use per load ( remember when they outlawed toilets with larger water tanks? )

The EPA should be changed to an advisory agency, only, which can only recommend regulation, not create it. These recommendations would then have to be passed in a stand alone bill by both houses of Congress, and signed by the President, just like any other law of the land.
Haven't looked at this lately...but 6 months ago, the government was still assigning the ratings of natural gas vs electric appliances (water heaters, for example) based entirely on efficiency at the point of use, without considering at all the losses (probably 40-50% or more) incurred in electrical generation and transmission.
It's pure craziness, and we all know it.

I think the EPA does need to be curbed, somehow. It got this way because Congress wanted to duck the difficult decisions. What are they there for?
"The EPA should be changed to an advisory agency, only, which can only recommend regulation, not create it."

Newt Gingrich (who is a guy with a million ideas - some of them actually good) say it should be renamed and reconstitiuted as the Envirionmental Solutions Agency. They propose solutions to environmental problems, the Congress accepts or rejects their proposals. That would take away their power and put it back whereit belongs.
It got this way because Congress wanted to duck the difficult decisions.

This is exactly right. Throwing the bums out won't do a bit of good because most of the bad law gets made at the executive level because Congress wanted to give the appearance of doing something without actually doing anything. There's goes the checks-and-balances and I don't know how we could ever get them back non-violently.
Ron Paul -- Speaking before the U.S. House of Representatives on August 1, 2007

Madame Speaker, I rise to introduce the Congressional Responsibility and Accountability Act. This bill requires Congress to specifically authorize via legislation any proposed federal regulation that will impose costs on any individual of at least $5,000, impose costs on a business or other private organization of at least $25,000, impose aggregate costs on the American people of at least $250,000, or cause any American to lose his or her job.

According to some legal experts, at least three-quarters of all federal laws consist of regulations promulgated by federal agencies without the consent, or even the review of, Congress. Allowing unelected, and thus unaccountable, executive agencies to make law undermines democracy. Law-making by executive agencies also violates the intent of the drafters of the Constitution to separate legislative and executive powers. The drafters of the Constitution correctly viewed separation of powers as a cornerstone of republican government and a key to protecting individual liberty from excessive and arbitrary government power.

Congress's delegation of law-making authority to unelected bureaucrats has created a system that seems to owe more to the writings of Franz Kafka than to the writings of James Madison. The volume of regulations promulgated by federal agencies and the constant introduction of new rules make it impossible for most Americans to know with any certainty the federal laws, regulations, and rules they are required to obey. Thus, almost all Americans live with the danger that they may be hauled before a federal agency for an infraction they have no reasonable way of knowing is against the law.

While it is easy for members of Congress to complain about out-of-control federal bureaucrats, it was Congress that gave these agencies the ability to create laws. Since Congress created the problem of lawmaking by regulatory agencies, it is up to Congress to fix the problem and make certain that all federal laws are passed by the people's elected representatives. Therefore, Madame Speaker, I urge my colleagues to cosponsor the Congressional Responsibility and Accountability Act.
yeah, it's obvious that it's time to rein in the bureaucrats. If you want some interesting reading, take a look at this article on LA county's code enforcement team followed by VDH's article on how CA isn't too interested in real nuisances or crimes.
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