Opinion Editorial by Terence Rosenthal
Good news, the United States could once again prove to be the largest oasis of resource abundance in the world. Will America allow itself the opportunity to take advantage of its vast supply of resources, or will its economy keep operating with one hand tied behind its back? Currently, there is a boom taking place in the field of American natural gas production as well as the production of other fossil fuels. This is advantageous for industries ranging from steel production to transportation, shipping, and even healthcare. Imagine the inventions that can be created as inventors, scientists, and doctors burn midnight oil in their labs and hospitals without fear of dwindling fuel supplies. This is possible if America does not have to contend with a federal government which regulates itself away from prosperity.
As the U.S. Supreme Court discusses key aspects regarding what is and is not constitutional under the Affordable Care Act, and the largest piece of federal legislation in American history is under review, citizens are sitting on the edge of their seats. As with other countless federal reforms and mandates, Americans should be asking themselves two questions. Should the Federal Government be able to force its citizens to enter into a market where they are required by law to buy a specific product? And, how much authority should be allocated to federal law versus state law? Variations on these two questions could be applied to many other current legislative topics. The Affordable Health Care Act raises other questions regarding legislation and budgeting. Citizens need to ask what is to become of the $500 billion set to be transferred out of Medicare, and how will states accommodate for the added cost they will have to cover if The Affordable Health Care Act is passed?
Health care is not the only sector under attack by federal overreach. There is the potential for far more sweeping federal legislation in regards to U.S. manufacturing and energy sectors. It is fair to say that most Americans want a cleaner planet, and are willing to accept some level of regulation so that they are guaranteed drinkable tap water, and relatively clean air no matter what part of the U.S. they are in. There is evidence to suggest that since the early 1800’s, after a mini ice-age, the global temperature has increased .8 degrees. However, scientific theory regarding climate change and Co2 production does not match what is actually happening in the atmosphere. This does not give license to drop all environmental regulations and merrily pollute soil, rivers, and streams. But one should question regulations that will be imposed on citizens and industry by way of Cap and Trade, and Agenda 21.
America’s citizens currently living in the largest economy in the world need to consider how industries related to fossil fuels are being overregulated, and how employment and market pricing will be affected. For example, a new piece of legislation being drafted by the EPA entitled Tier 3 proposes to reduce sulfur emissions. There is, however, no proof that Tier 3’s goal will produce environmental benefits. Tier 3 could increase the current price of gasoline, which is at approximately $4 per gallon nationally, by as much as 25 cents per gallon. Similar legislation is being considered regarding the coal industry. Currently in Montana, 3 coal plants may be forced to pay a combined $90 million in upgrades. Common sense says that if this legislation is implemented, it will translate into higher energy prices, and lost jobs for Montana residents.
What gives the Federal Government the right to determine all regulations for the states? How in touch are the people working on Capitol Hill with the needs residents living in each state, and the prosperity which their businesses generate for America? The fact is, every state has unique resources, industries, and individuals that contribute to the U.S. economy as a whole. What determines quality of life and prosperity for people living in Kansas may not be that important to someone who lives in California. The preferences of a state’s population are revealed in their local and statewide elections. This does not mean that all federal laws are an infringement. It means that people who move to a certain state do so with the knowledge that each state presents a unique set of positive and negative circumstances to its residents. If Washington DC continues to create legislation in a vacuum, businesses will have less freedom to create prosperity, and the American economy will lose.
Citizens need to consider the amount of overlap which exists regarding federal programs and departments. Though the tasks of each of these offices are very important, our present level of debt suggests that they need to be fine-tuned and possibly consolidated. For example, if one was to research all of the federal agencies related to environmental cleanliness, they would discover that there are at least six agencies which are similar in title and function. Maybe these six agencies could be consolidated into two, with some of the responsibilities given to state officials. After all, many state offices have the same title and function as these federal agencies. Imagine how much red tape, overregulation and over-budgeting could be avoided with taxpayer dollars if the Federal Government focused on limiting excessive legislation, consolidating its own agencies, giving more power to the states, and giving businesses more freedom to chart their own paths? America is at a crossroads between two directions which are presently at odds with each other. One direction is growth, and the other is reform.