Conservatism’s Foundation Showing Some Cracks

Sitter & Barfoot Veterans Care Center, Richmond

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

The pandemic has presented a challenge to at least a couple of the basic tenets of conservatism.

The first of these challenges is to the basic negative attitude toward regulations. Conservatives abhor regulations. In anticipation of objections from Jim Bacon and Steve Haner, among others, that such a statement is too broad and that conservatives object to only “bad” or “unnecessary” regulations, let me say that I agree there are some regulations that are bad. However,  the conservative rhetoric has not differentiated between “good” and “bad” regulations. Over the past 40 years or so, whenever conservatives talked about regulations, the phrase “job-killing” was almost always used. “Regulation” has become synonymous with “job-killing”.

Sometimes, conservatives do not bother with attaching the label “job-killing” to their attack on regulations;  they just condemn regulations altogether. A Heritage Foundation  article titled, “How Regulation is Destroying American Jobs,” did not distinguish between “good” and “bad” regulations; instead, the author declared that “regulation deserves much of the blame” for job creation grinding to a halt. Closer to home, Matt Fariss, R-Rustburg, in an op-ed published last week, bragged that Republicans had “reduced regulations.” Note that he made no distinction in the kind of regulations reduced. The strong implication, therefore, is that regulations, per se, need to be reduced.

Nursing homes have been a major source of discussion on this blog and in the national news over the past few months. Regular readers of this blog are familiar with a dialog that Jim Sherlock and I have been having. Jim argues that the Virginia Department of Health staffing regulations for nursing homes are too weak and the Commonwealth should adopt the requirements of the federal Centers for  Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). My contention is that the federal standards, even if any better than Virginia’s (which is debatable), are not  strong. A 2001 study and report by a consultant to CMS reached the same conclusion that the nursing home staffing standards were inadequate. (The standards in effect in 2020 are largely unchanged from those in effect in 2001.) Not content with staffing standards that are too low, the current administration in Washington relaxed nursing home requirements even more in recent years.

Then the pandemic hit. Lots of patients in nursing homes got very sick and many died. The howls went up from all over — “Why isn’t the government doing something?” There were complaints on this blog that the nursing homes were understaffed. Of course, they were, but that did not make them out of compliance with those federal and state regulations  Those understaffing levels earned them low scores on the CMS rating scale, but not violation notices. Nevertheless, the Republican Party charged that Governor Northam was creating “death homes” out of nursing homes. Never mind that one of its members, Del. Farriss, was bragging that the Republican Party had reduced regulations.

Conclusion:  Conservatives are against regulations until they are for them.

Another bedrock belief of conservatives is in the superiority of the private sector over the public sector. I know this from personal experience. Responding to a comment of mine in a meeting attended by numerous state officials and staff,  one of Governor Allen’s zealots, chairing the meeting, reprimanded me point-blank, declaring, “Anything the government does, private enterprise can do it better and cheaper.” Period. Next topic. Needless to say, I bit my tongue for the remainder of the meeting.

That axiom has not held up well in Virginia during the pandemic. The following state agencies operate congregate facilities analogous to nursing homes:

  • Dept. of Corrections— 42 prisons, which include numerous facilities in which inmates are housed in dormitory units that include about 75 beds. Of the approximately 28,000 inmates being held, chronic medical conditions are common, especially diabetes and hypertension. One of its facilities houses 300-400 geriatric inmates, many of them classified as needing assisted living services and some needing skilled nursing services. In the whole prison system, 11 inmates have died from COVID-19. In the facility that houses geriatric and assisted living inmates , there was one death from COVID-19. (The agency’s COVID-19 webpage is here.)
  • Dept. of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services — 11 residential facilities for adults with mental health and developmental services needs. One of these facilities, Piedmont Geriatric Hospital near Burkeville, is a 123-bed psychiatric hospital that serves persons over the age of 65. As of July 1, there had been no COVID-19 related deaths in DBHDS facilities.  (The agency’s COVID-19 data is here.)
  • Dept. of Veterans Services — Two residential care centers for veterans. The Sitter & Barfoot Veterans Care Center in Richmond, has  175 residents who need skilled nursing or Alzheimer’s/ dementia services. The Virginia Veterans Care Center in Roanoke  provides assisted living, skilled nursing, intermediate nursing, Alzheirmers/dementia, or hospice services for 188 residents. The agency does not post COVID-19 data on-line, but senior staff have told me there have been no deaths related to COVID-19.

In summary, in the state-operated residential facilities housing approximately 30,000 individuals, many of whom are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 , there have been 11 deaths related to the disease. Only one of those deaths was in a facility specifically designated for older persons. None of the agencies have reported any staff deaths resulting from COVID-19.

In contrast to the state-operated facilities, there have been 1,149 deaths, according to the Dept. of Health, in the privately-run nursing and assisted living homes. At least 60 of those who died were residents of one nursing home. Data on COVID-19 deaths of any nursing or assisted living home staff members is not available.

Conclusion:  Representatives of privately-owned and operated nursing homes should meet with their state counterparts to determine what the government-operated facilities did right and what could be replicated by the private sector.

One last note. The mother of a friend of my wife and me was transferred about a year ago from a private nursing home in Henrico to the Piedmont Geriatric Hospital operated by the state. The transfer was necessary because of the lady’s “behavioral  problems,” which the nursing home could not, or did not want to, deal with. Our friend has had nothing but praise for the care her mother is receiving at Piedmont. Her only regret is that she cannot visit her mother as often because Piedmont is an hour’s drive from Richmond and she works on weekends, in addition to her full-time job during the week. When her mother was in Henrico, she could pop in for short visits several times a week. Nonetheless, I would bet that she is very glad that her mother is in the state facility rather than in a privately-operated one.

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71 responses to “Conservatism’s Foundation Showing Some Cracks

  1. Great post!

  2. Amazing post, given that progressive policies and management have resulted in an unbroken litany of disasters since the death of John F. Kennedy in the fall of 1963.

    For example:
    “It is not just that our society doesn’t value mothers and fathers, our society doesn’t even value families, not even the very affluent who value them only for their kids.”

    Think about how government has so grossly failed today’s middle class families by driving prices through the roof in what these middle class families need most to survive:

    1. Transportation,
    2. Housing,
    3. Energy
    4. Health Care.

    A recent study found that 6 decades ago a typical middle class man had to work 31 weeks a year to provide his nuclear family (himself, wife and children) with these four critically needed ingredients.

    And that today, in sharp contrast both middle class mom and dad have to work 53 weeks a year to provide their nuclear family (mom, dad, and children) with these four critically needed ingredients. Problem is there are only 52 weeks in a week.

    Now, think for a moment, how Virginia’s government is working so hard to continue its drive to run up ever higher the costs of transportation, energy, housing, and health care for middle class families, while also driving up their taxes, fees, and charges, while also driving down the quality of these 4 vital ingredients to family formation and health.

    Virginia’s government and its elite is at war against Virginia’s middle class families, while Virginia’s government and elite steal from these families to grossly enrich themselves.”

    For more, see:
    https://www.baconsrebellion.com/wp/collective-bargaining-in-schools-a-prescription-for-problems/

    • What regulations that “drive up the costs” of transportation, housing, medical care, and energy have you identified should be eliminated?

      • “Trucks Use Right Lanes Only”
        Other than that, he won’t find one.

      • There are so many thickets of regulations in America by reason of the progressives’ obsession with government detail that America finds it now difficult, if not impossible, to build roads, rails and airports, build hospitals and health care generally, as well as build pipelines, and build nuclear power, and affordable housing, and indeed most anything of consequence that improves the lives of Americans, instead of encumbering and thwarting their lives, freedoms and opportunities.

        These regulation thickets have been used to thwart America’s progress, while they award crony capitalists with political favors and money and thus reward those who have been captured by Government and its incompetent polarized bureaucrats, the make busywork artists who cannot be fired, another progressive invention that compounds the incompetence and corruption of progressive governance while engorging its ranks.

        This is course is obvious as the nose on your face – look at Virginia everywhere, look at New York City and New York State, look at Baltimore, looked at Philly, look at Minneapolis, look at Seattle, look at San Fransisco, look at Los Angeles, look at Richmond. And now your progressive friends are supporting, facilitating and encouraging law breakers while piling up ever more regulations that suffocate citizens.

        • As usual, you present a lot of broad charges with no evidence to back them up. Just your opinion, which you are certainly entitled to. I cannot speak knowlegably about cities outside of Virginia, and, perhaps not so much about some localities in Virginia. Here in Richmond, there are hospitals and health care facilities going up, on almost every corner, it sometimes seems. Regulations certainly have not stopped them. When I drive to Northern Virginia, I have seen road construction somewhere along the way for the last ten years. Regulations certainly have not stopped that. Houses are being built all over the Richmond area and are occupied as soon as they are finished, so somebody must be able to afford them.

          And, by the way, civil service protection for bureaucrats was put in place as a way of stymieing the corruption of the political bosses and the patronage machines. A bureaucrat hired on the basis of merit is more likely to be competent than one who was hired because he was the party boss’s wife’s nephew.

      • All regulations increase costs. The question is: does the cost-push inflation created by certain regulations benefit society in general or benefit special interests?

        • You are quite correct. Virginia has a system in place to produce such analyses of the costs resulting from regulations, as well as their societal benefits.

  3. Dick – at what point is there “enough” regulation?

    • As long as legislatures keep passing laws creating new programs, there will be a need for regulations. For example, the 2020 GA authorized the operation of casinos, as well the betting on sports. However, it did not allow these activities to proceed without any limitations, and it directed the Virginia Lottery to regulate them. The agency is now in the process of developing the specific regulations that will implement the general restrictions included in the law. https://www.richmond.com/sports/plus/virginia-lottery-working-to-bring-sports-betting-casino-legislation-to-life/article_282194a4-d2a2-5654-b3d8-e5f5e6304bae.html

    • Sounds like a circular argument to me

      • VDOT,

        That’s because it is circular. It neatly avoid the issue.

        • You are both partly right. After making this response, I did feel as if I might have avoided the question. (At least CrazyJD said I did it “neatly”.) So to address directly the question: The answer to “when is there enough?” will vary with the issue. That might sound like another dodge, but there is no one answer that fits all. As far as I am concerned, there are way too many regulations in the field of occupational licensing. Why should a barber be licensed? If he gives me a bad haircut, I just won’t go back. In the real estate field, there is over-regulation of realtors and brokers. For the most part, the area of occupational licensing and regulation is a way for those already in the fields to limit entry and competition.

          • On the barber.

            What is the reason that barbers are considered higher risk for COVID19?

            Should I list out the other diseases the barber can transfer from one client to another if they do not sanitize their equipment?

            7 Gross Infections You Can Get From the Barber

            https://www.menshealth.com/health/g20138724/skin-infections-barbershop/

          • Dick may have used a bad example with the barber. Better examples are requiring a full veterinarian license from someone who only files the teeth of horses. Or requiring a mortician’s license and maintaining a mortician’s embalming room for someone who simply makes caskets. Or someone who braids hair but is required to go to two years of cosmetology school. Or someone who gives tours of cities but is required to pass a 47 page test covering every tourist site in the city, even though his tours are limited to the haunted houses in the cities.

          • Dick Hall-Sizemore

            I agree with you on all those examples, of which I was unaware. I still like the barber example. Somewhat off the subject: Is it possible to make a living filing the teeth of horses?

          • Dick,

            What I mentioned are the real cases that the Institute for Justice (IJ) have taken and won. They’ve widened the scope of cases they take and are taking challenges in a number of states in the civil forfeiture realm. IJ is frequently in front of SCOTUS and they usually win, the big exception being the Kelo condemnation case coming out of New London CT. They are very good at what they do, but of course you won’t hear about them from MSM.

            More recently, IJ filed a case in NC to cut the balls off of the NC Certificate of Need laws being applied to private MRI machines. As a donor, I’ve been after them for years to get into this arena. The case is proceeding on NC state constitutional grounds, so a win in NC may not give much support to a Virginia legal challenge because of differences in our constitutions. However, the record produced in such a case can be persuasive, and often IJ will use the record to create political support and pressure elsewhere. With any luck at all, CON in Virginia may finally have to bend over and kiss its ass goodbye. I’m betting on IJ. Read the description of the case and CON laws generally here: https://ij.org/case/north-carolina-con/

          • Dick Hall-Sizemore

            I am familiar with the Institute of Justice and like some of what they are doing, especially in the fields of occupational licensing and civil forfeiture.

  4. and EACH law can spawn dozens of related regulations…

    I do support a permanent committee whose sole job is to pour over existing regulations and identify ones that have outlived their value.

    In fact, I support the fiscal impact statements that are required for new laws and regulations.

    Finally, I support regulations that specify an outcome rather than the means to effect it. Let private industry find the most cost-effective way to meet the intent of the regulation.

    For instance, the heath department does not specify HOW you are to keep food at a particular temperature – only that you do it.

    The EPA/DEQ do not specify how to meet emission limits – only the specified limit – figure out the best technology.

    Conservatives are good a theory – they suck implementing theory in real world… so they then oppose the regulation itself.

    And heck, regulation doesn’t cost jobs, it CREATES jobs! Someone has to develop the technology need to implement the regs!

    • Larry,

      It’s one thing to create a job. It’s another thing to create a job that causes a net increase in value.

      • Crazy – I’m with you on that.

        how much value is one job less but ecol i in a burger?

        how much value in a tire that costs less money but blows apart at 65mph?

        The problem is that some “value” has externalities… the risk belongs to the buyer… a product that kills or maims her but was ten bucks cheaper…

        A crib that kills babies… do regs reduce the value?

        • Yet, even in our “regulated” market those things still happen Larry. We don’t live in a perfect world. There is risk in everything. A business that sells ecoli-burgers isn’t going to stay in business long. A business that has a good reputation is generally going to be more successful.

          A business that has connections in a highly regulated industry, is probably going to get away with things others can’t (I’m sure most of us can find ready examples of this). What comes first, the crony or the bureaucrat?

          • hells bells VDOT TRANNY – how would you even know where those ecoli burgers came from if not for govt regs?

            there just would be some people dying and some rumors where they ate… and you wouldn’t know if it was that one burger joint or all in that chain… because no information would be available unless the govt required it.

            Ditto with other products. If they were truly free market – and no govt regs… the food would become suspect – like if you go to a 3rd world country and you’re wondering what you could drink or eat without getting infected or dying…

            yes – there IS risk – people die every day over being on the wrong side of risk – more often than not over their own irresponsible doing.

            If your kid came home from school and was harmed by something the school was responsible for – is that a govt failure?

          • VDOTyranny

            How do you know that Larry? Do you really think that government inspections prevent these incidents? Dumb question, of course you do. Inspections don’t happen all that often. Merchants have plenty of opportunity to get their customers sick without inspectors being around to intervene. Yet, we generally trust our merchants to vet their suppliers and processes. Further, you have no idea how competent the inspector is (hint: based on real-world experience sometimes they are, sometimes they aren’t.) Did the inspection make any difference? You have no idea. You’re just making assumptions.

          • we “know” from prior experience which then led to laws.

            inspectors are less and less… there is self reporting – they
            have to take samples, test them, and report the tests.

            If they have a problem and hide it then the regulator comes down on them… they can lose their operating permits, etc..

            Here’s go read this:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pure_Food_and_Drug_Act

            this is how regulation comes to be…

            In Virginia, go check the health department inspections if you think a restaurant can “hide” stuff

          • Here’s VDH restaurant inspections for Arlington

            go take a look and see if you think they can evade the inspection or there are bad inspectors… etc..

            https://inspections.myhealthdepartment.com/va-arlington

    • There is a pilot effort to set up a permanent review of regulations in order to get rid of those that are no longer relevant or needed. (There have been sporadic efforts in the past.) DPB has been given that task. Here is the latest report on the effort; https://rga.lis.virginia.gov/Published/2019/RD403

  5. I’d never get on an airliner without the Govt. Even then, it looks like the FAA failed to do their job with the Boeing 737 Max – and people died because of it. Why? Because Boeing was trying to save money and the regulators were apparently happy to oblige.

    Imagine getting on a jet in a 3rd world country…. imagine trusting the drinking water or food in a 3rd world country. Imagine swimming in a river in a 3rd world country…

    • Imagine being responsible for the consequences of your own actions. Imagine paying the true costs of your wants, rather then using politics to steal from others.

      Imagine an airline industry where planes frequently fall from the sky. That industry would not exist, because there would be few customers. We can’t have perfection in an imperfect world, but the airlines have incentive to keep flying safe. What incentive does the government have? The airline industry pushed the burden onto government. Obviously, we can debate the merits of that move.

      • People don’t trust private industry alone for airline safety. Sorry, it’s the truth. And yes.. if you want less govt regulations – go to a 3rd world country where pilot training and aircraft maintenance is whatever the company chooses to do or not…

        • How do you know the inspector is any more competent then the pilot or mechanic? I’d trust the person who’s flying the plane before I’d trust the list checker staying behind.

          • Because many inspectors are also former practitioners of what they are inspecting Beyond that they’re looking for adherence to required professional/engineering standards. An inspector doesn’t check the pilots’ performance – they check her qualification and fitness reports or the aircraft maintenance records, etc.

            A restaurant/food inspector checks temps in the fridge and plumbing for leaks, for roaches or vermin..employees wearing hair nets, etc.

            A road inspector doesn’t care so much who is doing the work – they care if the work meets the required specs… right material, right thickness, etc.

            An inspector doesn’t inspect who’s manning the machines that spit out drugs – they’re testing random samples of the drugs to make sure they are pure and not contaminated….etc…etc.. i.e. they meet specs.

            A private insurance company might send an “inspector” to verify you have no unsafe conditions, fire extinguishers, fire doors, marked exits, before they insure you or need to determine the premium.

          • I know of at least one building inspector who wasn’t (he was eventually fired) worth a bucket of warm spit. He got busted when it became clear that he was “reviewing” plans without actually opening them up!

  6. Dick lands a couple of punches here. I think it’s true that Republicans/conservatives have not done a very good idea of articulating when regulations are beneficial and when they are destructive. I have always maintained that, in the abstract, regulations to protect the public health and safety are justifiable (as long as they are subject to a cost/benefit calculation), while economic regulations of businesses and industries rarely are. It is a luddite position to suggest that all regulations are bad and should be repealed. Approach each set of rules on a case by case basis.

    Second, he is right to say that the private sector doesn’t always do a better job than the public sector. It all depends on the quality of people managing the organizations in question. Contrasting the DOC’s handling of COVID-19 with that of some nursing homes is valid. (Of course, many nursing homes have done a superb job.) There is no magic private-sector fairy dust that guarantees that private organizations do better than public. The main difference is that the private sector is more Darwinian and does a better job of weeding out failures, while it is exceedingly difficult to change the organizational culture of a state agency. As for the private sector being Darwinian, there are exceptions — usually when the private-sector players have captured the politicians and regulators to insulate themselves from competitive pressures.

    Perhaps we can agree on this generality: While many regulations are beneficial, many are counter-productive. While we don’t need to get rid of all regulations, there are some that should be tossed into the dustbin. The challenge is distinguishing between the two.

    • Jim, I’d agree with you on this. The problem is HOW we come up with costs and benefits. In my experience, certain costs are strategically omitted to get sure outcomes. IF we use cost-benefit, we need to be honest about it.

      It seems that industry often pushes legislation and regulation that will help it in its niche and that prohibits others from competing with it, or ensures the longevity or rewards to it. It calls this good. Anything that it views as helpful to consumers it calls bad.

      It doesn’t help to have laws and regulations if they aren’t enforced. Sometimes the cost of enforcement is deemed to high. For example, one of the earliest laws or regulations in Colonial times dealt with weights and measures used in the marketplace. Government got the job. When Virginia was facing tight budgets in comparatively recent years the rules for enforcement were changed to cut costs after a brief attempt to make owners of the devices pay for the enforcement. As a result, today the gas pumps, scales in grocery stores, etc. are no longer tested once a year and certified as accurate by the state. If you check the stickers on said devices you’ll see that they are often not checked for 3 years and many have no stickers. Since many of these devices are controlled by computers, today it is exceedingly easy to adjust things slightly and to do it regularly. Consumers don’t know, have no way to be sure devices are accurate unless they get significantly off. Instead of checking every device, we could randomly test randomly selected devices, without notifying owners in advance, and charge heavy fines for significant variance from the standard. However, that would also cost owners of devices more, so we continue to let the schedule for testing slide and hope for the best. This kind of regulation of our marketplace seems basic and critical. Over the last 20 years or so, it’s been undermined. At some point the integrity of the market is affected. I’m sure that devices used in international trade are still checked regularly but the consumer level devices are not.

  7. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Regulations are only as good as the “watchers” who enforce the rules. That seems to be a problem in Virginia.

  8. Then the pandemic hit. Lots of patients in nursing homes got very sick and many died. The howls went up from all over — “Why isn’t the government doing something?”

    No, the howls went up in regard to the government regulating nursing homes while those regulations resulted in no action. Capt Sherlock consistently described how Virginia’s inept regulators wrote reports about under-staffing but never did anything about the staffing levels. They pushed the nursing homes to report on the regulations (which cost money) while providing no benefit to those housed in nursing homes subject to regulation.

    The failures of the regulatory state are legion. First, there are the special interests like Dominion who can pile up coal ash next to sensitive waterways for decades while the politicians of the regulatory state stuff their pockets with Dominion money. Second, there are the nursing home regulations that cost money for compliance but result in nothing of benefit (see: nursing home regulation in Virginia). Finally, there are regulations that are provably useless that are continued for no reason other than the intransigence and incompetence of state government (see: motor vehicle safety inspections).

    Are there necessary regulations? Of course. However, as long as special interests buy and sell the Imperial Clown Show in Richmond, all regulations from the General Assembly are suspect. You cannot have a corrupt state government and an honest regulatory regime.

    • re: ” They pushed the nursing homes to comply with the regulations (which cost money) while providing no benefit to those housed in nursing homes subject to regulation.”

      Did folks die in the nursing homes because of a failure of regulation by rule or enforcement of rule?

  9. Since Dick presumes to speak for me, I’ll stay out. And I’m late anyway. Today we went over to our daughter’s house, while nobody was home, to watch “Hamilton” on their Disney subscription without the dealing with the grand kids. Damn good show. Had only seen snippets or heard some of the songs on their own, but had not seen it curtain to curtain.

    So are we arguing about anything new? Or did Jefferson, Washington, Hamilton and Madison already hash it all out…..

    • I was not presuming to speak for you, I was just being proactive. I have subsecribed to Disney specifically to watch Hamilton, but have not done so yet. My grandsons seem to know the songs by heart, so I have been exposed to them.

  10. I think that the conservative objection to regulation in general has to do with the fact that they are made and enforced by unelected bureaucrats, shielding the legislative branch from having to deal with details and from the political responsibility for unpopular regulations. Government agencies wind up with legislative, executive, and judicial powers, an effront to the Constitutional guarantee of a republican form of government. In a perfect world, legislatures would hand over their law-making responsiblities to another Branch of government. At the very least, regulations developed by an agency should go back to the legislature for up or down votes, and they should have short term sunset provisions.

    • Virginia law contains provisions allowing for legislative review of regulations before they become final. There are also provision allowing the legislature to object to proposed regulations and suspend their effective date until the end of the next legislative session. These provisions are used rarely; legislators usually do not have the time to get into the details of regulations.

      • And that’s the problem. It’s sorta like, “We have to pass the law to find out what’s in it.” Congress did not make that particular law, it was handed over lock, stock, and barrel to government regulators.

      • Since government bodies change constantly, when the legislative branch enacts law and passes to the regulators, another process ensues and it can take years – on purpose – to develop them. By the time they are developed the make up of the legislative branch has changed so that a vote to approve/not will result in another fight over the contents of the law. Not sure how we’d have effective oversight – might just end up in a never ending cycle. It’s bad enough as it is. Even requirements to act by a certain date are ignored. I’ve been appalled to learn how slow the process to enact new safety regulations for interstate fossil fuel pipelines is, for example. Technology changes quickly but it doesn’t get widely used quickly and the little guy is the one who loses out on safety.

  11. Regulation comes from laws.

    You don’t want the legislature writing regulations – that’s a job for people who are intimately familiar with what is being regulated – I’m not sure who else you’d get to do it. The GOP prefers people who work in the industry to be the regulators. I’m not opposed to that as long as we have a way to not let the industry use their own guys to pervert regulation.

    e.g. – fire the EPA regulators and replace them with industry people.

  12. Steve says: “Today we went over to our daughter’s house, while nobody was home, to watch “Hamilton”

    Evening before last, one of my 9 year old grand kids gave from memory a recital of the play’s opening song “Alexander Hamilton:”

    “How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore
    And a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot
    In the Caribbean by providence impoverished
    In squalor, grow up to be a hero and a scholar?

    The ten-dollar founding father without a father
    Got a lot farther by working a lot harder
    By being a lot smarter By being a self-starter
    By fourteen, they placed him in charge of a trading charter

    And every day while slaves were being slaughtered and carted away
    Across the waves, he struggled and kept his guard up
    Inside, he was longing for something to be a part of
    The brother was ready to beg, steal, borrow, or barter

    Then a hurricane came, and devastation reigned
    Our man saw his future drip, dripping down the drain
    Put a pencil to his temple, connected it to his brain
    And he wrote his first refrain, a testament to his pain

    Well, the word got around, they said, this kid is insane, man
    Took up a collection just to send him to the mainland
    Get your education, don’t forget from whence you came
    And the world is gonna know your name
    What’s your name, man?

    Alexander Hamilton
    My name is Alexander Hamilton
    And there’s a million things I haven’t done
    But just you wait, just you wait

    When he was ten his father split, full of it, debt-ridden
    Two years later, see Alex and his mother bed-ridden
    Half-dead sittin’ in their own sick, the scent thick

    And Alex got better but his mother went quick

    Moved in with a cousin, the cousin committed suicide
    Left him with nothin’ but ruined pride, something new inside voice saying
    Alex, you gotta fend for yourself

    He started retreatin’ and readin’ every treatise on the shelf

    There would have been nothin’ left to do for someone less astute
    He woulda been dead or destitute without a cent of restitution
    Started workin’, clerkin’ for his late mother’s landlord
    Tradin’ sugar cane and rum and all the things he can’t afford
    Scammin’ for every book he can get his hands on
    Plannin’ for the future see him now as he stands on the bow of a ship headed for a new land
    In New York you can be a new man

    In New York you can be a new man
    In New York you can be a new man
    In New York you can be a new man
    In New York you can be a new man
    Just you wait

    Alexander Hamilton

    We are waiting in the wings for you

    You could never back down
    You never learned to take your time

    Oh, Alexander Hamilton

    When America sings for you
    Will they know what you overcame?
    Will they know you rewrote your game?
    The world will never be the same, oh

    The ship is in the harbor now
    See if you can spot him

    Another immigrant comin’ up from the bottom

    His enemies destroyed his rep America forgot him

    We fought with him

    Me, I died for him

    Me, I trusted him

    Me, I loved him

    And me, I’m the damn fool that shot him

    There’s a million things I haven’t done
    But just you wait

    What’s your name, man?

    Alexander Hamilton”

    Source: LyricFind
    Songwriters: Lin-Manuel Miranda
    Alexander Hamilton lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      I think Aaron Burr would have made a good President. Here is a great quote from Burr’s Farewell Address to the Senate.

      Closing remarks from Vice-President Aaron Burr Jr.’s farewell address to the US Senate in 1804:

      “This house is a sanctuary; a citadel of law, of order, and of liberty; it is here-it is here in this exalted refuge-here, if anywhere, will be resistance made to the storms of political frenzy and the silent arts of corruption. And if the Constitution be destined ever to perish by the sacrilegious hands of the demagogue or the usurper, which God avert, its expiring agonies will be witnessed on this floor.”

      20 minute speech left the members of the Senate in tears. Burr slammed the door to the chamber upon his exit.

    • Pure poetry. Shakespeare level stuff. Pulitzer well deserved.

  13. Neither conservatives nor liberterians are anti-regulation, or they would be called anachists. Conservatives certainly have no shortage of hyprocites, but the Left has anachists on parade.

    Regulation is a matter of degrees. Cost vs Benefit. In some cases, the benefit to the general welfare is obvious. In many cases, its nebulous. In others, its surely a benefit to special interest only.

    Dick tells us we have a system in place to weigh the cost vs benefit. If this is the case, then the cost should be borne directly by the taxpayer. The taxpayer would have direct knowledge of the cost of the regulations they claim to want.

    Instead, the costs get pushed downhill and hidden into the costs of products and services. Many voters don’t make the connection between regulation, taxes and cost-push inflation.

    Case in point, mandating businesses enforce patrons to wear masks by threating to suspend their licenses. Why not have the police cite individuals?

  14. We could deregulate football and just play rugby like the rest of the world… oh, but the GOP heads would explode when New Zealand beat us every time.

  15. Cure for regulations:

    Simplify them enormously.
    Put them into plain language.
    Make them plainly understandable to everyone.
    Focus regulations on real problems, and threats.
    Enforce them seriously but with common sense, demanding plainly understood solutions to real problems, shortfalls and threats.
    Hold people accountable, including regulators.

    Nursing home regulations are laughable. Reduce them by 90%, write them in plain simple language, give those subject to them area of discretion, and then seriously enforce them to standards results demanding excellence, where all concerned are seriously held accountable (including firing people as necessary) for achieving excellence. This has done done wonders for nursing homes. It ain’t rocket science. It’s common sense, integrity, and leadership that insists on quality in all things, top to bottom. Excellence in all things is easily understood without complicated over regulation. Over-regulation stifles. Without demanding excellence, accountability and leadership, all regulation fails. Over regulation insures failure. This is one primary reason why government so often fails.

    • Good ideas all. Let’s practice first on the tax code.

    • If you are going to demand excellence and accountabiliy, you will need to define what constitutes “excellence”, otherwise everyone will have his own idea of what constitutes excellence. That is where regulations come in.

      Your approach would result in more regulations. Most regulations set minimum standards. To require excellence would mean either more regulations or more stringent ones.

      • “I give you an example of a program in Australia a couple of decades ago. They replaced their thick rule book on nursing homes with 31 general principles. Have a home-like setting, respect the dignity of the residents, and such. Experts scoffed. But before nursing home were getting away with murder; within a year, the nursing homes were twice as good. They ran a study, and what they found was that when people came to work and they did not have their noses in the rule books, they could internalize these 31 basic principles, and they could focus on what the residents needed. And they could run their nursing homes in different ways. Most states have something like a thousand rules for the nursing homes. It is just absurd. You have got to have two pictures on the wall, the window has to be this big, so many peas on a plate. It is unbelievable granular.

        But when you create the principle based system, it is not deregulation. The state regulator still comes in and looks, and sees how the nursing home is doing, and if something isn’t good in one way or another, it tells the nursing home, and they have an argument about it, and then there is a discussion, and generally they work things out. That is what happens in Australia. It allows people in the nursing homes, the stake holders, including the residents and their family and such to have much more say in how it works. So principle based government allows people to solve problems in their own ways. It embodies subsidiary, whereas command and control rules is just central planning.” Quote from Phillip K. Howard in June 7 – July 7 Washington Examiner.

        See also.
        https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/09/fixing-broken-government-put-humans-in-charge/380309/

        These theories, including knowing excellence when and where you see it, and giving the subordinates the space to create excellence in the own ways as individual circumstances demand, recall to me game the changing command principles Admiral Ernest King deployed to create the finest navy in the world out of the ashes of Pearl Harbor, to win America’s war in the Pacific.

        • Regarding above comment, See also:
          https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/12/how-to-fix-a-pothole-with-bipartisan-approval/421575/

          Here is a taste of that Atlantic article How to Fix America’s Infrastructure, by Philip K. Howard, dated December 28, 2015

          “…Red-tape waste. The Republican frustration about government waste is illustrated by the inefficiencies of infrastructure procurement and process. The arduous procedures by which public infrastructure gets approved and built shows that total costs could be cut in half by dramatically simplifying the environmental review and permitting processes—which can often consume a decade or longer. The water-desalination plant in San Diego, for example, which is vital for water-parched California, began its permitting in 2003. It finally opened in December 2015, after 12 years and four legal challenges.

          Even projects with little or no environmental impact can take years. The plan to raise the Bayonne Bridge roadway, which spans a strait that connects New Jersey to Staten Island—in order to allow a new generation of post-Panamax ships into Newark Harbor—had virtually no environmental impacts because it used the same foundations and right of way as the existing bridge. Yet the project still required five years and a 20,000-page environmental assessment. Among the requirements was a study of historic buildings within a two-mile radius of the Bayonne—even though the bridge touched no buildings. Once approved, the project was then challenged in the courts based on—you guessed it—inadequate environmental review.

          All of this process is expensive. The nonpartisan group Common Good (which I chair) recently published a report on bureaucratic delays, Two Years, Not Ten Years, which found that decade-long review and permitting procedures more than double the effective cost of new infrastructure projects. Delay increases hard costs by at least 5 percent per year. Delay prolongs bottlenecks and inefficiencies, which totals 10 to 15 percent of project costs per year (depending on the infrastructure category). A six-year delay, typical in large projects, increases total costs by more than 100 percent.

          Careful process, the theory goes, makes projects better. But the U.S. approval process mainly produces paralysis not prudence. America’s global competitors don’t weigh themselves down with these unnecessary costs. Take Germany: It is a far greener country than the United States, yet it does environmental review in a year not a decade. Germany is able to accomplish both review and permitting in less than two years by creating clear lines of authority: A designated official decides when there has been enough review and resolves disputes among different agencies and concerned groups. The statute of limitations on lawsuits is only one month, compared with two years in the United States—and that two years is only because it was shortened under the new highway bill. Following Germany’s lead, Canada recently changed its permitting process to complete all reviews and other infrastructure decisions within two years, with clear grants of authority to officials to meet deadlines.”

        • I agree with you in principle. Many regulations are ridiculously complex and detailed.

          Some Virginia regulations are principle-based, but they are strongly criticized on these pages. For example, here is the Virginia regulation on staffing of nursing homes (12 VAC 5-371-210):
          “The nursing facility shall provide qualified nurses and certified nurses aides on all shifts, seven days per week, in sufficient number to meet the assessed nursing care needs of all residents.”

          That is a pretty straight-forward, common sense principle. But, many commenters on this blog are upset and complain that this regulation is too weak. And if I am an overseer of these regulations and determine that the staffing levels in a nursing home are not “in sufficient number” and try to hold the nursing home accountable by fining it or closing it, I will find myself in court very quickly. The nursing home operator will argue that the number of nursing staff employed is sufficient. Unless the violation is egregious, the nursing home operator will probably prevail in court.

  16. Not that you’d pay attention to me, but the biggest failure of conservatism is the growth of dynastic wealth with the introduction of methods to avoid, exceptions to, and increased limits on estate taxes.

    Conservatives have loathed the tax, and are strong proponents of “rights of inheritance” — one of the principle contributors to the creation and maintenance of Old World feudalism, which we as a colony avoided. From our beginning we didn’t have royalty or a ruling clergy. Composed of the merchant and labor classes, the colonies, albeit structured, avoided the feudal tradition of grinding poverty in the labor class.

    The estate tax dates to the post Revolution and Civil War periods with it finally being codified in its modern form in the early 20th century. The modern tax was specifically aimed at large estates, with limits to avoid the middle class. Probably as a result of 2nd generation of the Robber Barons.

    The failure was the creation of the Trumps, Kochs, Kennedys, etc., our very own royalty.

    • Oh I think you’ll get “attention” on this! 😉

      One of the things I have noticed in terms of generational wealth – is how often grandparents fund the college educations of their grandkids – for the families that have affluent grandparents – either directly or through trusts or inheritances.

      It’s a much tougher slog for families that do not have that bankroll for college. Many end up with significant debt that takes years to pay off to the point where they themselves do not build longer term wealth to fund their own kids or grandkids college.

      I’m NOT in favor of redistribution of wealth – I mean the real deal , not the partisan blather kind…. Simply stated – people need to earn their rewards and not have it handed to them – and that circles back to NN’s point.

      • Don’t get me going on “family trusts” and “corporations are people too, my friend”

        No they are not. The can live forever! Forever!

        At least family trusts have been fix. Post 1986 trust have an end date based on the death of some future beneficiary, e.g., the youngest grandchild of the youngest beneficiary at the time of creation, but nevertheless these trusts can amass huge assets in that time. People who know, know BDO.

        Corporations don’t even have that.

    • I agree with you, but I was not trying to take on all the “failings” of conservatism. You notice that, in my opening statement, I said I was going to discuss just a couple of the tenets of conservatism.

      • Dick, there is not sufficient space available on the internet to list ALL of the failings of American conservatism. The first of which is the attempted stratification of the internet.

        • Oh, please. Methinks you are engaging in what psychologists call “projection”

          • Perhaps but she sure is good at getting rises out of “conservatives”,no? 😉

          • To what end, Larry? Unlike most others on the blog, you always frame your arguments and even your fact based posts in terms of “those nasty conservatives”. Do you not realize that this does not advance your position or argument?. Take a page from Dick’s posts, though I wii say that your posts have gotten better.

          • what’s that called…??? projection? 😉

            hey… show me my last sin talking about “those nasty conservatives” ?

            “nasty” ? geeze…

          • Pretty fairly implied by many if not most of your posts, Larry.

          • nasty? the truth must hurt, eh?

  17. Sometimes there is confusion as to the primary purpose of regulation.

    Sounds simple but ask yourself to say in one sentence – the reason why we have regulation.

    After you do that -think about what it actually means in terms of a process and why the govt should do it and not trust the private sector to do what’s right.

    I think that some Conservatives tend to think regulation is a cure worse than the disease sometimes but then they take for granted the really egregious stuff that would (does) happen if not for regulation.

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