Shania Twain and Government Regulation

If Democrats rejoice just because federal agencies are doing their jobs, then the terrorists win.

In keeping with our optimist/pessimist dialectic, Mark rejoices that Obama has, in John Judis’ words, “reinvented the American state” in federal regulatory agencies.

I prefer Shania Twain: that don’t impress me much.

I’m certainly pleased about the general direction that Obama has taken the federal regulatory agencies.  But at the end of the day, the upshot of Judis’ piece is that federal agencies are actually attempting to do their jobs.  With all the handwaving in Judis’ piece about Louis Brandeis and Herbert Croly, it really all amounts to rejoicing that the Department of Labor actually believes in the Fair Labor Standards Act and wants to enforce it, and the Environmental Protection Agency is now run by people who are qualified to do so.  Oh, and they have better budgets, too.

This is all well and good, but guess what?  That what a Democratic administration is supposed to do.  It’s the bare minimum.  If anything, it says more about the pernicious nihilism of the Republicans that we should sing hallelujahs when the EPA, OSHA etc. are actually doing their jobs.

Oh–and the end of the piece?  Where Judis writes a paean of cost-benefit analysis and sings the praises of Cass Sunstein, the director of OIRA?  Remember that in a recent book, Sunstein compared the Clean Air Act to a Stalinist 5-year plan.  Don’t break out the champagne just yet.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

3 thoughts on “Shania Twain and Government Regulation”

  1. I love to watch liberals argue amongst themselves. No Cass Sunstein Nudge is gonna redirect the misguided dim-witted rantings of liberals on this blogosphere

  2. On the "bare minimum" front, with respect to the public lands and species conservation policies that are the core issues for an important sub-set of the US environmental community (esp in the West), the Obama Administration has so far given the impression that it believes that taking its foot off the gas on a few of the most extreme Bush Admin initiatives is the same thing as actually changing course. If our experience is any guide (and the admin's positioning on California water wars suggests it is) then the Bushies' radical anti-environmental full-court press has in fact moved the refs way, way down to the corporate end of the field. So far the change agents are mostly MIA, and outfits like the US Forest Service (which mostly _loved_ the Bush Admin's regulatory games, if not its budget priorities) are cruising happily along under the 'new normal.'

  3. Oh, so we might enforce some laws that have been totally violated for forty years. You know that not one single piece of fascist dictatorship law enforcing theory has changed one itsy bitsy teeny weeny bit. You got a President that, by what is being not enforced, can legally per the Supreme Joke kill anyone on a whim. Wow what a liberal.

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