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Words from Winterbilt

Commonsense and Regulations

Shannon Bohrer

(Feb, 2012) This is part three on commonsense as it relates to government and politics. Of course, using the words common sense, the government and politics in the same sentence may not make sense to many individuals. It has been said that what seems like common sense to one person can resemble nonsense to another. I guess thatís just one way of saying that we sometimes see things in a different light and or from a different perspective. Sometimes the perspective is influenced from where one stands. As an example, I will be 65 years old this month and I applied for and received my Medicare card several months ago. Ever since then, I have received significant volumes of mail advising me of the medical plans that are available. Apparently every medical health provider in this country was told that I would be looking for supplemental insurance and a plan for prescription drug coverage. While the volume of mail was very annoying, it was also educational. I had no idea that so many health care insurance companies existed, nor did I realize that they all knew I existed. However, adding to my confusion was the fact that not only was every provider notified of my enrollment in Medicare, at least several hundred of them decided I needed multiple notifications of their ability to provide me with their services. That did not make sense - from my perspective.

In the previous article we discussed the size of government and common sense. This article is about the common belief that the government has too many regulations. It has been widely reported that too many regulations and/or excessive regulations reduce jobs, growth and are just bad for the country. Apparently employers spend considerable resources complying with the regulations and that prevents them from hiring individuals. I am not sure that makes sense, since they are hiring individuals to make sure they are complying with the regulations. However, it does make sense that too many regulations slow down the process of work and competitiveness of our industries.

As an example of too many regulations, I have lately noticed significant advertising from coal industries telling us that if the government institutes more environmental regulations, it will cost us more jobs. I know there are some extremists who believe that our lands and water are polluted. However, since the clean air act is over 40 years old (originally 1970) it would appear that we have clean air and water, so why do we need more regulations? The extremists do point out that if you fish in places in New York and/or around the great lakes, there are signs posted that warn you to only eat a small portion of your catch because the fish are contaminated with mercury. Accordingly, the signs tell you that individuals should limit their diet to four ounces of the fish just once a week. If we canít eat the fish, then we could turn the streams into catch and release. That sounds very environmentally friendly to me. We donít eat the contaminated fish, the streams are not overfished, fishing outfitters have clients and hire guides because itís a catch and release and the state sells more fishing licenses. See, pollution can be job friendly. I wonder how long it will take for the mercury to dissipate. Personally, I really donít see a problem with limiting oneís fish intake, since I donít live in New York or in the vicinity of the Great Lakes, but it does sound like a serious issue.

Another frequent argument from the extremists is that the oceans are also polluted and that even ocean fish have high levels of mercury. It has been reported that eating too much seafood caught from the oceans (where else would seafood come from?) can be harmful, because the ocean fish also have mercury contamination. Of course, at the same time you hear the other extremists saying that we are overfishing the oceans? Letís just say they are both right, which actually lends itself to a simple solution. Donít fish so much in the ocean Ė the fish can replenish themselves and we donít consume too much mercury. Add to this the creation of small businesses; fish farms, and we create jobs and we donít need the oceans. Sounds like a win-win to me. It does give one pause and wonder how much pollution was needed to contaminate the oceansÖ.

Another part to the same argument that the extremists have used is ground pollution. They believe that environmental regulations are needed to reduce ground pollution. I am old enough to remember when we did have ground pollution, but I am sure that most of it has been cleaned up. I wonder if the love canal was cleaned up! With the advent of super fund (a federal law that was created in 1980 that created a tax on chemical and petroleum industries), we now have the monies to clean up the super fund sites. I was surprised in researching this when I found that according to the National Priorities List (NPL), there are still 1,305 toxic waste sites scheduled for cleanup, which is more than we started with? If we have identified the sites and have the money, why have they not been cleaned up? Would not cleaning up the sites create jobs?

As I was writing this article I was thinking of all the reported pollution in my lifetime; the love canal, industrial rivers that caught fire, chemical contaminated ground water from PCBs (whatever they are), PH levels in rivers and lakes so out of normal that the water wonít support fish Ė and those are just the ones I remember. I then realized this is not a new issue but is a continuing problem. I remember reading "A Sand County Almanac" by Aldo Leopold. While published after his death in 1948, he had written that less than half the states still have native trout in their streams (written sometime in the 1940ís). I think we would be very happy today if 50 percent of the states had native trout.

Maybe we need to take a closer examination of what regulations we want to reduce. I like clean water and safe food. I hunt and fish and contrary to what you may have heard about my abilities, I have brought home wild game and fish. I do believe that we could reduce many regulations but wholesale elimination of regulations may not be prudent, at least from my perspective. I would also like to see new regulations that would prohibit me from receiving junk mail from health care providers. No one could read and make sense of the volume of health care information I received in the last six months. Maybe there should be a lawÖ.

"The conservation of our natural resources and their proper use constitute the fundamental problem which underlies almost every other problem of our national life" Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President

Read other articles by Shannon Bohrer