There is a constant battle between conservatives (aka Republicans, or stoopid people) and liberals (aka Democrats, or smart people) as to how to regulate industry. Republicans say “don’t regulate industry at all.” Why? because they are paid by industry to say this. If you think there is anything else going on here you are not even a tiny bit as smart as you think you are and should go back to school.

Each Republican congress tries to remove regulation, and each administration tries to weaken the existing regulation. Currently, the Bush Administration is planning to remove all the power of the Endangered Species act and thus cause wolves, rare bunny rabbits, cute owls and if he can manage it, the pandas and the whales to be obliterated from the face of the Earth. Why? Because they are paying him to do this.

Years ago I was a contract archaeologist. This meant doing the archeology and historical preservation parts of the Environmental Impact Assessments and Statements, codified in Federal Regulation (as well as State regulation, depending). I remember when Ronald Regan was elected president. All the engineering firms, state agencies, etc. who normally were required by law to contract archaeologists and other environmental science consultants to get working on various studies pursuant to detailed design and construction (of pipelines, roads, etc.) simply decided to not contact anyone to have any of that work done, because the Republicans had promised to remove the regulations. (Well, not everyone failed in their legal duty, but most did, frankly.)

It turns out that federal regulations are the pragmatic implementation of law which is often the legal implementation of other laws or of rights of some sort, and thus one cannot simply say “Oh, we’re in charge now, and we’re Republicans, so we’ll have the Tyranny of Industry running things now, spottend owls (and other endangered species) and ancient Indian sites be damned…”

No, you can’t just do that and get away with it. But you can threaten to do it, and as a result, people start to ignore the law, and later we find ourselves letting this or that archaeological site get destroyed and some other sites get less attention than they deserve because the delays caused by the thread of deregulation have generated a situation where small businesses will go under if we don’t give them a break.

That is what is known as irresponsible ideologically dogmatic governance. The specialty of the stoopid Republicans and other conservatives.

The latest:

The Bush administration on Monday said it plans to let federal agencies decide for themselves whether highways, dams, mines and other construction projects might harm endangered animals and plants.

The proposal, which does not require the approval of Congress, would reduce the mandatory, independent reviews that government scientists have been performing for 35 years. Developers welcomed the plan, while environmentalists derided it….


They are saying that this is simply a measure to streamline the process, but it is not. It is a measure to allow the presidential ideology in power at the moment to directly determine the outcome of the process. This will literally cause the extinction of species right now, this year or next, if it is put into place. And later, if Jerry Brown or somebody becomes president, it will cause the shutdown of all hydroelectric facilities and other extreme measures. Clearly, the people behind this do not understand the consequendes of their actions.

There is a PDF file of the proposal, which begins public review tomorrow, here, and some excellent further commentary here,
by Mike Dunford.


  1. #1 BJN
    August 12, 2008

    The people behind this don’t care about the consequences of their actions. It’s not about understanding; they don’t want to understand.

  2. #2 Woody Tanaka
    August 12, 2008

    I wouldn’t use the word “stupid” (or “stoopid”). It could lead one to believe that it would not be difficult to win by outsmarting them.

    It isn’t that they are stupid or unintelligent; they simply do not have the moral sense to care about the consequences of their actions, so long as they benefit financially. It that way, they are more akin to the sociopath than to the unintelligent.

    They can be very smart and very crafty and very, very persistent. And that makes them dangerous.

  3. #3 uncle noel
    August 12, 2008

    You’re right, Woody; many are smart sociopaths, but more are just idiots that follow along. That’s what politics is all about.

  4. #4 Andrew
    August 13, 2008

    “let federal agencies decide for themselves whether highways, dams, mines and other construction projects might harm endangered animals and plants.”

    Thats ridiculous. Would they let me decide for myself how much of the US treasury I should award myself for being fantastic? It would streamline the process and I promise not to encumber anyone with tiresome forms or anything. The only encumbering I’ll do will be on myself, heroically bearing the burden of my bags marked swag. 🙂

  5. #5 Equisetum
    August 13, 2008

    “The Bush administration on Monday said it plans to let federal agencies decide for themselves whether highways, dams, mines and other construction projects might harm endangered animals and plants.”

    And the “decisions” will probably be farmed out to Halliburton, who will (for the paltry sum of three billion dollars) decide there is no danger of harm to any species.

    Then the republicans will gather several of these “decisions” pointing out that no species was ever harmed, and never would be harmed, and use that so-called fact against the liberals for having wasted all that money enforcing the Endangered Species Act for all those years.

    Hey, it could happen. That’s the really sad thing.

  6. #6 Jenn
    August 13, 2008

    This saddens me quite a bit. Actually, the idiocy of what has happened in Washington for the past 8 years saddens me even more. *sigh*

  7. #7 Windor
    August 13, 2008

    I’m wondering if you could provide more details.

    “Why? Because they are paying him to do this.”

    ‘They’ being…

    Where is the documented evidence for this? (Not a challenge, just honestly wanting to look more into it.) Thanks a lot.

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    August 13, 2008

    I’m merely referring to the ubiquitous flow of money from special interests to politicians and their friends and families via campaign financing, post-office holding consultancies, bias in awarding contracts, etc.

  9. #9 smartin
    August 14, 2008

    Windor – read it and weep! (or rejoice if you’re a Republican):

  10. #10 Mike
    August 14, 2008

    I like how you lay it out in such simple terms that even a tool of industry can understand.

    As far as the question of who is paying Bush goes, there’s a long list of special interests to whom his administration defers. But I believe there’s an ideological component at work as well, along with the reality that even if you’re not on anyone’s payroll today, you will be tomorrow. If you look at where deregulators wind up once they leave office, you can see that the extractive industries never forget their friends.