The most cataclysmic outrage about the failure of the Keystone XL Pipeline isn’t so much about its need in the market, or the loss of jobs, or the waste in expended capital – it’s the way the US Government has used the authority it was given to assure “health and safety,” to instead manipulate markets, and advance political agendas against what is often the will of the electorate. The Keystone Pipeline action demonstrated how thoroughly and utterly, government now has the power to destroy free trade, consumer-driven markets, and to control or ignore constituents.
And, most of all, the great potential for crony capitalism.
So obvious is the potential (or the threat) of centrally controlled markets, that one must believe that only fools in the business world aren’t clamoring aboard. Anyone with half a brain must realize how important, to their future success, it is to be well-connected and to pay their appropriate “dues” to the political world.
It is a protection racket that the establishment understands is part of the apple-cart that is at risk in the elections of 2016. There is a lot of money at stake, even for those who don’t really see themselves as part of it, but thought they were just complying with the law. A sudden change in law could mean huge losses to their business. You don’t have to be a political activist to be concerned about that.
Government at all levels in the US, through regulatory law, has amassed enough power to systematically dictate winners and losers, all the while appearing to keep their hands clean. How cleverly the scheme works is not apparent to most people. Most well-meaning citizens will always give the benefit of the doubt to the government because most have no idea about economies and the challenges involved in production, but they have been thoroughly indoctrinated about the benevolence of government, the evil of profit-makers, and the “unquestionable need” for government to act as gatekeepers for the inept common man’s health and safety.
Even business owners themselves, while facing utter ruin and loss, will often spew forth the rhetoric about how it’s all necessary for the greater good – so thoroughly are they convinced that government is the only answer in protecting hapless consumers.
Nothing has proven a greater gift to this amassing of centralized power, more so, than the issue of global warming – which is why, unlike most scientific issues, it has been elevated to such a high political level. True or not, the hysteria surrounding the theory has panicked people into relinquishing, without question, the remaining vestiges of economic freedom, the reins of which are being most efficiently gathered up by government over the most important element in maintaining and elevating the standard of living of human beings – energy.
But it is not just energy. Government is claiming the right to control all aspects of our lives in the hallowed name of “health and safety.”
For example the emergence of a new technology – the wrinkles for which are far from being ironed out – is already feeling the squeeze. A couple weeks ago, it was announced that federal automotive safety regulators are considering requiring government approval of automated-driving technologies before they are implemented on the road.
Currently, regulators do not have authority to block automated-driving technologies before they are introduced, but the US Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx said that he has been encouraging his bureaucrats to “think about it.”
How much should they – bureaucrats who are incapable of inventing the toothbrush – “encourage pre-market –approval steps”— all in the name of health and safety. It’s not unlike high-school graduate building inspectors, with just a seminar or two under their belt, approving the work of experienced, educated and certified professional architects.
So what’s the value to the political world? Just extrapolate the financial benefit to politicians of Mr. Foxx having simply made such a statement. What’s it worth to auto manufacturers to make sure those
“regulations” aren’t a “war on” automated-driving, as they were on coal? Or how much is it worth to entrenched industry not to have to face the competition of new technology?
Far-fetched paranoia? No more so then having difficulty believing that the US President would use his authority to safeguard health and safety to circumvent Congress and dictate a radical unpopular energy policy, which is exactly what blocking the Keystone pipeline has done.
And so it goes with the strangle-hold of regulations. It was ultimately regulations over the banking industry that brought us the housing bubble the bursting of which destroyed so many people’s homes and retirements.
Or just consider the issue as reported in the last Big Sky Business Journal — the world-altering, life-threatening issue of hair braiding. Heaven knows shouldn’t we all be protected from the perils of hair-braiding, especially the poor Montana beauticians who are already under the thumb of costly regulations and licensing in order to pursue a livelihood. That is really what is at issue with hair-braiding. No one really believes there is a health concern about hair braiding, but to give them a pass is to shine a light on the whole grip of licensing beauticians. Government might lose its grip, if anyone started contemplating, even for a moment, as a viable solution, the more rational option of lessening regulations.
As this, or even Uber’s conflict with licensed taxi services, reveal — regulations are always advanced in the name of “health and safety,” but that is usually a faux concern.
Bear in mind the automobile came onto the market and was eagerly embraced by consumers without any oversight from government. Regulations evolved much later. Health and safety issues were governed by consumers and their willingness to purchase the product, which was constantly improved by the competitive forces within the industry.
As famous commentator Paul Harvey once noted, if the mind -set of the regulatory world, today, were in place at the time electricity was discovered, average consumers would never have been allowed to use electricity. How incredibly dangerous!
When regulations make little rational sense it has to mean there’s a political motivation behind it – and nothing demonstrates that more clearly than the failure of the Keystone Pipeline.

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