How the Feds Run Virginia’s Colleges and Universities Now

Anne Holton, Virginia's Secretary of Education: not really in charge of higher education any more.

Anne Holton, Virginia’s Secretary of Education: token task master. She’s really not in charge of Virginia higher education any more.

by James A. Bacon

A new Vanderbilt University study sheds light on the relentless increase in costs at U.S. colleges and universities: government regulation. In a detailed study of 13 institutions, Vanderbilt and the Boston Consulting Group found that compliance with federal regulations ranges between 3% and 11%, depending upon the institution, with a median cost of 6.4%. Research institutes bore the heaviest burden — grants & contracts incurred the greatest costs — but government regulations cut across all aspects of campus life.

The report delved deeper into the numbers than any previous study and is the most authoritative to date. “While many regulations are useful and effective, others are unrelated to the mission of higher education. All regulations impose cost, however,” said Thomas W. Ross, president of the 17-campus University of North Carolina, one of the study participants. (No Virginia university participated in the study.)

Under pressure for soaring tuition and fees, the higher ed sector has long complained about the cost of government regulation. A recent report, “Recalibrating Regulation of Colleges and Universities,” put it this way:

Over time, oversight of higher education by the Department of Education (DOE) has expanded and evolved in ways that undermine the ability of colleges and universities to serve students and accomplish their missions. The compliance problem is mandated by the sheet volume of mandates — approximately 2,000 pages of text and the reality that the Department of Education issues official guidance to amend or clarify its rules at a rate of more than one document per work day. As a result, colleges and universities find themselves enmeshed in a jungle of red tape, facing rules that are often confusing and difficult to comply with. They must allocate resources to compliance that would be better applied to student education, safety and innovation in instructional delivery.

Key points made in that study:

  • Regulations are unnecessarily voluminous. Referring to Department of Education regs alone, “the Higher Education Act (HEA) contains roughly 1,000 pages of statutory language; the associated rules in the Code of Federal Regulations add another 1,000 pages. Institutions are also subject to thousands of pages of additional requirements in the form of sub-regulatory guidance.”
  • Regulations are overly complex. “Frequent issuance of sub-regulatory guidance by the Department, although intended to clarify, often leads to further confusion.” A “Dear Colleague” letter on Title IX responsibilities regarding sexual harassment required further guidance in the form of a 53-page “Questions and Answers” document that took three years to complete. “And that raised even more questions. “Complexity begets more complexity.”
  • The DOE has an increasing appetite for regulation. The growth in the “volume and velocity” of regulation has increased in recent years, even in the absence of new statutory changes from Congress. “Negotiated rulemaking sessions have addressed topics as varied as accreditation, college teacher preparation programs, PLUS Loans, debit cards, gainful employment, state authorization, and the credit hour — all undertaken solely at the Department’s initiative without any prior Congressional action.
  • The DOE does not act in a timely fashion. “The HEA explicitly requires the Secretary of Education to issue final regulations within 360 days of the date of enactment of any legislation affecting these programs. The Department almost never meets this deadline.”
  • Regulation can be a barrier to innovation. “The Department’s definition of credit hour … is one example. By relying on the concept of ‘seat time,’ the Department’s definition had discouraged institutions from developing new and innovative methods for delivering and measuring education, such as competency-based models.”
  • The regulatory process is opaque. “While intimating that it consults professionals in the field in developing its calculations, we have been unable to locate a single institutional official who has ever been contacted by the Department for this purpose. Even more telling, we have been unable to locate any institutional official who has heard of anyone else ever being contact for this purpose.”

Bacon’s bottom line: For perhaps the first time ever, I feel a smidgen of sympathy for Virginia’s university administrators. The DOE exercises fearsome power — the ability to cut off federal backing for college loans, upon which almost every college in the country is slavishly dependent. And the DOE has wielded that power to compel colleges to submit to new regulations. A recent example: The Obama administration’s aggressive interpretation of Title IX regulations to attack the supposed “epidemic of rape” on colleges campuses has led to the creation of a new bureaucratic apparatus to combat the problem. (Hopefully, Bacon’s Rebellion soon will be able to document how that has played out at the University of Virginia.)

The big take-away from these studies is to change the way we think about public oversight of Virginia’s “state” colleges and universities. They are “state” universities in the sense that the state provides financial support for them and provides modest regulatory oversight. But the federal government, in its overweening way, now exercises as much, if not more, control over “state” universities as the state does. Indeed, all major regulatory initiatives in recent years have emanated from the U.S. Department of Education, not the state, not Congress.

The fact is, the Governor of Virginia and the General Assembly aren’t the drivers behind higher educational policy in Virginia anymore. The federal government — more specifically, the Obama administration, acting without the authorization of Congress — has usurped that role. The federal leviathan grows ever more powerful in ways that may never be reversed.

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31 responses to “How the Feds Run Virginia’s Colleges and Universities Now

  1. I’d like to see if Larry G has anything to say about this.

    Jim, perhaps you said it in another post that I missed, but the quoted italics come from the Task Force on the Federal Regulation of Higher Education. The Task Force was formed by a bipartisan group of Senators. “Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Richard Burr (R-NC), and Michael Bennet (D-CO) created the Task Force on Federal Regulation of Higher Education in the fall of 2013 and directed it to consider these
    issues in depth.” Mikulski is not exactly what you would call a right-wing nut. But I’m sure that Larry G will be in his usual state of denial that anything is wrong with the federal government.

  2. As of right now:

    The name of the University of Virginia should be changed to:

    The University of the Federal Department of Education at Charlottesville, Virginia.

  3. l’d be curious to see Liberty’s experience as well as some other private institutions.

    re: CrazyJD – basically Jim is blathering more anti-regulation propaganda… and you know this because he’s not citing the laws nor their date of passage in Congress ….

    you can pick (and folks of Jim’s ilk will) virtually ANY subject and then demonize the Feds… from drugs, to food to ladders to the airwaves, to truck regulations..

    but since Crazy has brought up the ” Task Force on the Federal Regulation of Higher Education”

    perhaps we can discuss it further in terms of how it got created, it’s recommendations, follow on legislation, etc.

    how about it?

    You know.. UVA and others could get out of many of these regulations if they did not take Federal dollars, right?

    so why not do what MIT does – and stand proud and independent?

    here you go… I’ll let crazy begin by citing his favorite recommendations:

    The Senators articulated a three-part charge for the group:

    1) Provide specific recommendations to consolidate, streamline, and eliminate burdensome, costly,
    and confusing regulations, laws, and reporting requirements;

    2) Review and quantify the extent of all federal requirements with which institutions must comply,
    including estimates of the time and costs associated with specific regulations; and,

    3) Provide recommendations for reform to ensure future regulations are promulgated in a manner
    that appropriately considers existing law and accurately examines the costs and benefits to
    taxpayers, institutions, and students.

    I LIKE IT!

    but again – why suck on the Federal teat then complain about the rules?

  4. Do you think the regulatory burden is that much lighter on a private company? Manufacturers, chemical companies, etc? And what about on public K-12? A highway contractor? You don’t have to accept federal dollars or do federal contracts to end up under the federal thumb.

    I remember my days in a one-man, one-room regional bureau for the Roanoke Times, starting in 1976. I had an OSHA form I was supposed to fill out at least twice a year – certifying no hazards, describing the furniture, I don’t know. It was incredibly stupid and I’m sure nobody ever read the final product, but it showed up in the incoming mail regularly.

    A student foolishly plays a racist song at a school event here in Richmond. Now two adults will have to review every song in advance. Not one, two. How long will that take? Will they be teachers who could have been otherwise engaged in teaching a student something useful? That is how the regulatory process starts and this is how the cost piles up.

  5. The difference between Denmark and the Unites States has less to do with the maximum tax rate and more to do with the honesty and competence of the government. Let’s start with honesty. In Denmark there are very, very few deductions available for personal income taxes. In the United States the deductions are so numerous and the rules are so complex that an entire industry has grown up around designing tax avoidance strategies and filing personal income tax forms. Corporate taxes in Denmark are relatively low (see next section on competence) and have few deductions and straight-forward methods of calculating depreciation, etc. In other words, the special interests in Denmark have not corrupted the government in Denmark into a multitude of special tax breaks.

    Competence. The personal income tax in Denmark is very high – 60.2%. There is also a 25% VAT and new car registrations are taxed at 180% of the car’s purchase price. In return, the Danish government provides lots of support to Danes – education health care, etc. There are very few deductions to these taxes. The highest tax rate starts at an income of $55,000 (USD) per year. Funny how asshats like Bozo Sanders and Klown Krugman never seem to mention that simple fact. A Fairfax County kindergarten teacher (average pay – $69,000 per year) would be well into the top tax bracket. Moreover, the corporate tax rate is low (23.5%) and falling. It will be 22% in 2016. Needless to say, income earned by Danish companies from their overseas subsidiaries is not taxed again by Denmark even if the country where the income was earned has a lower corporate tax rate than Denmark.

    In the fairy tale world of Bernie the Bozo America will finance its Danish style largesse by taxing hedge find managers. In the real world of competent politicians everybody benefits and just about everybody pays sky high taxes. In the bat-shit crazy world of Criminillary Clinton US companies should be double taxed even when every aspect of the income was generated outside the United States. Trillions of dollars remain offshore. In the competent world of Danish politicians the money needs to come back to Denmark so double taxation is out of the question.

    Our government is dishonest, corrupt and incompetent. The issues with over-regulation of education deal with dishonesty and incompetence. The dishonesty comes when leftie politicians count asking somebody for a date too often as sexual assault and then declare an epidemic of rape on campus so they can continue to enact inane regulations and accuse others who know better of waging a war on women. The incompetence comes from being unable to specify what they want from the regulations they pass and unendingly revising the regulations.

    Perhaps we should outsource our government to Denmark. At least they are honest and competent, if perhaps a bit economically misguided.

    • On the topic of how Bernie would deal with the higher-ed affordability crisis…. he would make tuition free for all like the Germans do. Does anyone think for one moment that he would restructure America’s higher-ed system — as in, slash costs — to resemble Germany’s higher-ed system?

      I wonder why the Politifact guys don’t call Bernie out for that whopper.

      • you want us to collectively be the most educated , the most competitive country in the world.

        K-12 is no longer the standard – It’s K-12+2 and countries like Germany know that.

        Countries like Germany know also that the core curriculum is core competencies – language, math and technology and the other things are non-public school – parental fee paid.

        you can call this “socialist” if you want but that’s like saying we don’t need globally-competitive education to compete globally.

        It depends how you want to calculate costs… right?

        when you get to the point where education is a “cost” – you’ve “graduated” from understanding the connection between capitalism and global competition.

    • I was going to let this go until you decided to start calling people names for no reason, but you’re wrong about Denmark.

      The state tax is 5% on income between ~$6400 and ~$63,000 and is 15% on income over ~$63,000. An individual making $63,000 in the United States has that income taxed at 25%. The localities have flat taxes at rates between 20% and 28%. All income from employment is taxed at 8% before any other income tax, and of that ~$7,400 is income tax deductible. So even assuming maximums you’re looking at (crudely) 5+15+8+28 = 56%, except there’s also a rule that the maximum taxation anyone will pay is 51.5% (at least as of 2010, it looks like based on a more recent packet I found it’s 51.95%).

      “Our government is dishonest, corrupt and incompetent.”

      Takes one to know one I guess.


        “At 60.2%, Denmark last year had the highest top personal income tax rate among the 34 countries in the OECD, an organization of developed and emerging countries. And that 60.2% applied to income over roughly $55,000.”

      • Even if I accept your numbers, I get the top tax rate of (in your mind 56%) starting at $63,000. Your 51.95% is an average tax rate not a marginal rate. One would hope you can understand the difference. I was discussing the marginal tax rate, not the average tax rate.

        So, I say a top tax rate of 60.2% starting at $55,000 and you say a top tax rate of 56% starting at $63,000.

        You also ignore the 25% VAT and 1-3% land value tax, neither of which are deductible against income taxes. Oh yeah, and the 180% tax on the purchase of a car.

        In typical liberal style you have chosen to argue minimal differences instead of addressing the main point. The main point is that Denmark assesses very high taxes on almost everyone. Even using your numbers the average kindergarten teacher in Fairfax County is in the highest tax bracket and paying a 25% VAT tax on purchases. As for owning a car – forget it, he or she can ride their bicycle to school and back.

        Sanders and Krugman are crafting careful lies. They talk about the wonder of Denmark but never mention who pays these high taxes. They hope to mislead their low information followers into believing that Denmark is an economic utopia where the rich are heavily taxed to provide free education, excellent free medical care, etc. In reality the sky high taxes start with the middle class. Of course, this is something neither of the Democratic Party’s chronic deceivers can admit. Why? Because telling the truth would hurt their chances for success. If they ever told the hypothetical Fairfax County kindergarten teacher that he was going to be in the highest marginal tax bracket, pay a 25% VAT tax and effectively be prohibited from owning a car Donald Trump might get another supporter.

        So, let’s see if you can focus … I’ll even use your numbers …

        Do you support a socialist taxation system where the top marginal rate of 56% starts at $63,000 (albeit with a 51.95% maximum average tax) along with a 25% VAT tax, a 180% car registration tax and a 1-3% land tax? In return, intellectually qualified Americans would get free college, all Americans would get high quality free medical care and a strong social net. Also, none of these benefits would be means tested. Oh, and there are very few deductions where those deductions apply to everybody.

        Economically, I could live with that plan. The highest marginal income tax rate in California is already 51.9%, Virginia’s is 47.4% …

        You want to move those rates up to 56% with a cap on average at 51.95%? Guess what? Really high income Californians are already paying Denmark’s tax (since average effectively equals marginal at very high incomes).

        Even in Virginia, you want to increase the wealthiest people’s taxes from 47.4% to 51.95% – an increase of 4.55%? But you want to push the taxes paid by an experienced Fairfax County public school teacher to 42% (average)? Then, you want to slap a completely regressive VAT tax of 25% on everybody? Then, you want only the rich to be able to afford cars?

        That sounds good to me. I wouldn’t have had to pay for my 5 kids to go to college. I’d be driving my car on uncrowded roads. Oh yeah, I almost forgot – capital gains are taxed at 23.5%. What do I pay now in the US? 20% federal and 5.75% state? Thanks for the tax cut Bernie. Gee, guess I’ll be paying a lower average tax rate than those teachers after all.

        Liberalism is a mental disorder.

  6. Federal intrusion into the operations of colleges may in fact be a problem, but two things:

    1) Let’s assume the 11% cost could disappear completely as the driver of tuition you claim it to be. You like to carp about how the drop in state funding isn’t a factor (or, to be charitable, a major factor), but in Virginia between 2007 and 2013 the state contribution to public, post-secondary education fell 21 percent ( So, you’re asking me to believe that 11% is a more onerous factor than 21%?

    2) You have found fault in many of the studies about sexual assault rates on college campuses, some of them legitimate and others nitpicking, but a common refrain is that the sample size is either too small or that contribution bias is at play. Now you’re asking us to take as valid a study that looked at 13 out of the United States’ 4,140 universities, or .3% of all such institutions.

    I’m not asking you not to be biased – we’re all inclined to seek out and believe information that confirms our pre-existing beliefs – I’m just asking you not to be such a transparent and obvious hypocrite about it.

    • LOTFL, regarding your two points:

      (1) No, I’m not asking you to believe that the imposition of new regulations contributed more to rising tuitions than cutbacks in state support. I am saying that the growth in federal regulations is a significant and unappreciated factor driving up costs over the long run. Moreover, it is a factor over which university administrators have no control, hence, I draw the extraordinary conclusion (extraordinary for me) that administrators actually warrant a smidgen of sympathy.

      (2) No, I am not saying that a sample of 13 colleges is sufficient to draw hard-and-fast conclusions regarding the cost of regulations across higher ed generally. I am saying that it’s the most comprehensive and in-depth study on the cost of regulations yet conducted, hence the best picture we have. The report might over-estimate the cost of regulations, but it also might under-estimate the cost.

      On the other hand, I am not backing off my conclusion that the federal government now drives higher ed policy in Virginia universities as much as state authorities do.

    • And let me point out a logical error you made in point #1. The 11% costs attributed to federal regulations applies to all costs. The 21% decline in state support applies only to a portion of revenues. Let’s say state support accounts for 1/3 of all college-university revenue. Then, a 21% decline in state support creates only a 7% of all revenue.

  7. I’m not pro-regulation at ALL – NOR do I think the Feds should DICTATE policy to the Universities and Colleges if they have demonstrated they have their own effective management of problems.

    I’m totally in favor of going back and pruning outdated, obviously unintended consequence regulation – to get rid of the stovepipes and duplication, and more.

    but anyone who thinks regulation is put into place for no reason other than some bureaucrat wanting control – is just fooling themselves.

    behind most regulations – there are folks who were harmed or victimized by some public or private action whether it’s outright fraud to abuse by local govt , etc.

    a lot of the anti-regulation fever is generated by business and by anti-govt zealots who claim to be “free market” but who never saw a problem with Kepone or poisons, bad drugs, dangerous products, etc…

    they will ignore thousands of regulations that THEY KNOW – ARE NEEDED and ARE SUPPORTED by the majority of citizens and purposely search out ones that need to be repealed or changed – and then claim they represent govt and regulation in general.

    this is apparent in this totally biased post by Jim who has posted over hill and dale about his opposition to college rape politics .. and the govt involvement in it.

    The give away is when it’s attacked pillory to post – every which way but Sunday – but not once have I heard any kind of alternative from the critics as to what should be done – instead. It’s almost as if they argue that NOTHING should be done – that it’s up to the College – and no one’s business.

    that’s a bogus approach to the entire issue of regulation but it seems to be at the end of most anti-regulatory rants … i.e.

    1. – govt is inherently bad and corrupt
    2. – anything govt does is ham-fisted and incompetent
    3. – we don’t need no stinkin regulation
    4. – the “free market” will “correct” the problems

    this is why , in my view, that even among the critics – they cannot even agree as to any approach that govt might take – just stay out of it.

    most folks – even the ones who claim the govt sucks are among the very first to bleat when their ox is gored…

    so now days, we have this really destructive – blame game going on where everything and anything bad or wrong with govt is whipped into a frenzy – and then the instigators .. just wash their hands of the whole affair … as if they have done their job by chewing that bone…

    I want to hear solutions. I know there are problems. I’m tired of the blame game vandals…

    we have problems. we need to address them. the world is not a perfect place – and never has been. folks need to grow up.

    • Larry, regarding the conclusions you impute to “anti-regulatory rants,” of which this post may or may not be one (you left that unclear):

      1. – govt is inherently bad and corrupt

      No, I would say that government is inherently prone to overreach and inefficiency, often creates unintended consequences, and resists accountability or reform.

      2. – anything govt does is ham-fisted and incompetent

      Not always, but very often.

      3. – we don’t need no stinkin regulation

      It depends what you’re regulating. For about the ten thousandth time, I will emphasize that regulation is often justified to protect the public health and safety. Regulations often are much harder to justify for regulating economic sectors, and rarely justified when used for social engineering and imposing the liberal/progressive vision upon people who want no part of it.

      4. – the “free market” will “correct” the problems

      The free market is the best engine of economic growth and development that mankind has yet invented, but it does not solve all ills. Sometimes government is necessary. At this stage of our history, however, government does some good things but it also does an enormous amount of harm and needs a drastic pruning.

  8. Interesting but I doubt that federal regulation is much greater than ever. And most university people if you ask them for the five greatest challenges they face will not name federal regulation.
    A little over a year ago I observed in a private meeting a consulting firm had with 10 university presidents seeking insight into the greatest challenges facing American higher education and federal regulation came in 9th.
    No university people, with the possible exception of those institutions caught up as party schools etc., think that their greatest challenge is federal or state over regulation. How about hundreds of billions in institutional debt at a time when traditional college age students are set to decline or the trillion dollars plus student debt which is set to accelerate?
    And, Virginia’s Secretary of education has never had any significant regulatory authority over higher education except that specifically dedicated by a specific governor. And Virginia like other states has reduced regulatory oversight in exchange for reducing state contributions to the budget of “state” institutions. This reduction of state over sight has led to dramatically increased costs to students (made up by hyper increases in federally back student loans), and explosive growth in presidential compensation (20-30% per year over the last ten years), and explosive spending on athletics and posh non-academic facilities and activities.
    But if “The Donald” gets in the White House he will eliminate all federal oversight and regulations while eliminating all federal assistance to higher education. That would be a free market situation for public and private institutions. But states would have the option of regaining oversight of their institutions.

  9. Agency inertia is a huge problem with federal regulation. Government actions simply take too long.

    Clearly, agencies need to take sufficient time for staff to assemble a proposal, publish it in the Federal Register, solicit comments and other advocacy from stakeholders, and craft an order that justifies the adopted (or rejected) rules. I’ve dealt with FCC rulemaking for more than 30 years. It is not very good at efficient rulemaking.

    It should not take more than a year for an agency to act. If the staff cannot justify its proposal within that time, it should close the proceeding and not take action. But it should not keep dockets undecided for long periods of time.

    The FCC opened a rulemaking proceeding for wireless microphones in September 2014. New rules were adopted and the order released in July 2015. So far, that constitutes good and reasonable rulemaking. But the new rules have not yet been published in the Federal Register. It’s almost November. How hard is it to get an item published in the Federal Register? This is incompetency. The public and affected stakeholders should not have to put up with this. And I’m talking about a single, small agency.

    • The problems you mention are often vastly compounded by chronic overreach in the scope, detail and subject matter of the regulations, not to mention their irrelevance to any problem sought to be addressed.

      Thus for example the regulatory agency has neither the staff, the expertise, nor the energy, to properly judge and render competent opinion on compliance, much less property enforce such compliance.

      Thus, too, the most typical result of many of these rules is their massive miss-allocation of resources, and a gigantic waste of time for all concerned, all of it at best useless busywork and pretend work on false problems that serves only to distract from real issues and solutions, and interfere in the meaningful production of any thing useful by regulator and the regulated.

    • @TMT – I’m sure you are familiar with ANSI standards and similar industry standards that are never really “closed”. they just evolve.

      same thing with Fire and Building and even transportation AASHO standards …

      Medical classification codes –
      which underpin Medicare , MedicAid and virtually all private insurance.

      these things are never closed, always evolving and complicated .. and esoteric… and they work surprisingly LIKE govt regulations.

      The average person – for instance, when they go to the doctor – they have no idea that everything that is done to them – actually has a classification code that the doctor has to use and provide to the insurance company for reimbursement.

      some folks even confuse these with govt regs!!!

      industry standards mix and match and play with govt regs … so the point where most folks think these industry standards ARE govt regs!

      the thing is – these standards ARE necessary – they underpin much of the world all of us depend on.

      when you go to have an x-ray – it’s designed to certain industry standards… independent of govt regulation… your car has a computer that is programmed with industry standard software – independent of govt regulation. There is no govt regulation which tells car manufacturers what computer and what software to use – it’s purely up to them. If Chevrolet wants to use something different than Ford then they can… but in the end – they coalesce around a standard that they both abide by – not always 100%.

      Your phone has software. Apples does it different than Android.. the phone companies themselves will then alter the phone manufacture code to customize it to their services..

      regulations work in similar ways – and are just as obtuse and not understood by the average person.

      and people wonder why different companies produce incompatible devices.. but they don’t consider it “corrupt” or “incompetent” or “unnecessary” even though it has the very same issues as regulation does.

      • Larry, I’ve done standards work in my career, working with the Alliance for Telecommunications Solutions or ATIS in the area of telephone numbering and related issues. The organization is ANSI accredited.

        And sometimes, standards bodies work for years on a standard. But sometimes, they react quickly. But standards bodies are different. They have no authority to bind people in the same way the government does. Some times government regulations require parties to adopt standards. But more often, companies see benefit in compliance. That’s why standards bodies generally work. But they don’t have the coercive power of government. Yet, on a number of occasions I’ve seen ATIS provide more due process than the FCC. Government agencies need to follow their underlying statutes and the Administrative Procedure Act. Too often they don’t – for political reasons.

  10. re:

    ” Larry, regarding the conclusions you impute to “anti-regulatory rants,” of which this post may or may not be one (you left that unclear):”

    I guess when I see Jim Bacon write a a post that says “needed regulation done just right” -OR – “this is bad, this is what we should be doing instead” – I’ll re-assess.

    Until then , I remain confident you will continue to point out what you consider to be bad regulation and then imply that it’s representative of most regulation…

    1. – govt is inherently bad and corrupt

    No, I would say that government is inherently prone to overreach and inefficiency, often creates unintended consequences, and resists accountability or reform.

    tell me what percent of regulation you think is “inherently prone… yadda yadda”.

    is it 90+% or 10% … what criteria are you using to make your determinations? The govt claims it uses a cost-benefit approach… do you disagree with that approach or doubt they are or what?

    2. – anything govt does is ham-fisted and incompetent

    Not always, but very often.

    again – do you think the NTSB, FDIC, PBGC, FERC, FCC, FAA, FBI, BATF… etc.. is “ham fisted and incompetent”?

    3. – we don’t need no stinkin regulation

    “It depends what you’re regulating. For about the ten thousandth time, I will emphasize that regulation is often justified to protect the public health and safety. Regulations often are much harder to justify for regulating economic sectors, and rarely justified when used for social engineering and imposing the liberal/progressive vision upon people who want no part of it.”

    I don’t think you ever make your case effectively because you almost always start with a complaint about social engineering and never ever cite an example of good regulation that is NOT “social engineering”, “liberal/leftst”, etc..

    You NEVER give an example of “good” Conservative legislation. done right… you act like MOST regulation is “leftists” social engineering.

    “4. – the “free market” will “correct” the problems

    The free market is the best engine of economic growth and development that mankind has yet invented, but it does not solve all ills. Sometimes government is necessary. At this stage of our history, however, government does some good things but it also does an enormous amount of harm and needs a drastic pruning.”

    but I never hear you show examples of where regulation IS necessary because the free market won’t do it…

    where do I see you compare and contrasting NECESSARY regulation to free market “ham fisted”, “incompetent”, “corrupt”, behaviors?

    for instance, you DEFEND pay-day loans, for-profit education providers that abuse and rip off people.. etc..

    @TMT – re: agency creep”

    I totally agree – but again – I almost never hear those that complain – say – ” it should work this way instead”.


    why, instead of complaining about what you don’t like – don’t you admit that SOMETHING IS NEEDED – AND it needs to work in a better way that you advocate FOR?

    this non-specificity combined with no ” we need to do it this way instead” leads to these whack jobs spouting all kinds of idiocy …

    how do you separate yourself from the whack jobs?

  11. Larry, I provided an example of what worked well – the FCC’s rulemaking proceeding on wireless microphones – except for the inability to publish the rules in the Federal Register. A complicated rulemaking docket reached decision in less than one year. Agencies need the discipline to resolve everything save the most complex issues within a year.

    Congress enacted a statute (47 USC 160) that gives the FCC a one-year period to decide a petition for forbearance from application of a regulation. In complex cases, the FCC can extend the period for 90 days. If the Agency misses the date, the petition is deemed granted.

    Congress should require all rulemaking proceedings to be resolved within a year of their initiation, subject to the ability to extend for 6 months upon a showing of good cause. If the time limit is missed, the law should automatically terminate the proceeding.

  12. TMT – you kinda got into the inside baseball part of it which is NOT what most folks like Bacon are complaining about.

    they are complaining about the concept of regulation the scope and extent of it and in their minds that it extends to things – like you’re actually talking about. You’ll hear them say that the free market should resolve the wireless microphone stuff and similar – not the govt.

    and I’m not sure I even agree about the drop dead rulemaking.. some stuff is more complicated and if you force it to conclude -you may well get badly thought out – rushed rules..

    I’d much rather see durable regulation done right than stuff that has to be revised over and over – which is what business also complains about – the uncertainty of changes in regulation (as well as imposition of new).

    I see regulation as protection of property rights. It’s just that much of it is not so obvious to the average person.

    For instance the wireless microphone which a lot of folks would not understand the implications of not having a standard in the first place – they don’t even know that there is a frequency conundrum issue to start with.

  13. I have a challenge question here for folks.

    tell me which food products are mandated to have date stamps..

    Is it all of them or none of them or just infant formula and nothing else?

    batter up.

  14. re: ” For about the ten thousandth time, I will emphasize that regulation is often justified to protect the public health and safety. ”

    what about commerce? protection of taxpayer assets and individual property rights?

    do you think the private sector is entitled to build a auto dealership in a subdivision or a porn shop next to a church?

    is the govt justified in telling trucks how much weight they can carry on roads?

    is the govt justified in requiring insurance companies to pay for claims or for gas stations to deliver a gallon of fuel instead of 9/10s or 77 octane instead of 68?

    is the govt justified in telling companies what radio frequencies they can use

    these go quite a bit beyond health and safety – do you yourself and the Conservatives you tend to agree with – believe these kinds of regulations are unwarranted and impinge on the free market?

    where are you drawing the line beyond health and safety?

  15. Over regulated? See this news article regarding of spending of federal money.
    “In 2001, the earliest year thus far publicly available, in 2001, in addition to his university salary (not yet available, but presumably about $125,000), Shukla and his wife received a further $214,496 in compensation from IGES (Shukla -$128,796; Anne Shukla – $85,700). Their combined compensation from IGES doubled over the next two years to approximately $400,000 (additional to Shukla’s university salary of say $130,000), for combined compensation of about $530,000 by 2004.

    Shukla’s university salary increased dramatically over the decade reaching $250,866 by 2013 and $314,000 by 2014. (In this latter year, Shukla was paid much more than Ed Wegman, a George Mason professor of similar seniority). Meanwhile, despite the apparent transition of IGES to George Mason, the income of the Shuklas from IGES continued to increase, reaching $547,000 by 2013. Combined with Shukla’s university salary, the total compensation of Shukla and his wife exceeded $800,000 in both 2013 and 2014. In addition, as noted above, Shukla’s daughter continued to be employed by IGES in 2014; IGES also distributed $100,000 from its climate grant revenue to support an educational charity in India which Shukla had founded.”

  16. Not sure the govt should be involved in deciding salaries of thow who are performing grant work – if there is a work product – let the grant recipient decide how best to produce the “deliverables”

    Further – we should not politicize the subject of the grants themselves and basically pick out things one disagrees with politically to make it the focus of some perceived “abuse” that needs to be “regulated”

    the govt funds a lot of grants for a lot of different things that can be and are ridiculed and mocked.. like studying spiders or asphalt, etc. But many if not all of these are true research that adds to the body of knowledge that the public seldom understands.

    If there is a problem in general with the way grants are done that can lead to abuses – no matter the subject of the research, yes – but making it about subjects upon which there are political controversy and disagreement like Cucinelli going after Mann alone … we don’t need more of that type of “regulation” in my view. It does a disservice to the practice of regulation when it becomes politicized IMHO.

  17. So if the NSF gives a grant to do research to a professor they should not audit the expenditure of federal tax dollars (or borrowed from China) at all?
    So the professor can pay himself well and pay his wife $400k to keep the books on the grant? Or pay his daughter $100k as an administrative assistant. Or sent $100k back to a charity in India run by his family.
    There is more to this story…the Fairfax Times had a two page story on this case. It will spread to a new review of federal grants which should be focused on true research and not on shaping public opinion or joining political causes.
    Oh what the heck go ahead and borrow from the Chinese so professors can employ thein kin in high paying jobs.
    Google this guy or read the Fairfax Times.

  18. no, they SHOULD audit – ALL grants – regardless of the subject of the research.

    when we focus such efforts ONLY on stuff we politically disagree with – then we’ve politicized the research process AND legitimate regulation.

    I know about this particular issue and agree something needs to be looked at but when it get a political angle on it – it’s doing harm beyond the subject.. and it’s general and widespread harm.

    we cannot use regulation to politicize scientific research.

    there are abuses in other areas of Cancer. Scientists can be bad guys also… and we need the scrutiny and accountability – but not politicized.

  19. One solution:
    1.Eliminate the federal DOE.
    2. Ban all former employees of the DOE from working in the education field, in any manner, for at least five years after the DOE is shut down. (No guns within 1000 feet of a school; no ex-DOE’s within 10,000 feet of a school.)
    Without # 2, the ex-DOE employees will morph into something else with just as much power and just as little legal justification as the current DOE.

  20. This guy has gotten $61 million in grants and reportedly has only published one article in recognized journal. Pretty good work if one can get it.

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