Reviving the American dream

By From page A4 | January 10, 2014

There is a good chance that the rolling disaster that Obamacare is showing itself to be will lead to a new Senate majority, one without Harry Reid as Senate majority leader. Should that happen, here is our prescription for reviving the American dream. We realize, of course, that will require inspiring leadership in the White House in 2016. But Congress can begin the spade work in 2015.

First on our list would be reining in the Environmental Protection Agency, which has been running amok. Second, would be streamlining the environmental report process. Somehow, all the U.S. Forest Service seems to do is EIRs for forest plans, which they are constantly changing and thus constantly redoing. The Forest Service used to send silviculture experts out to cruise the forest and mark trees for harvesting. They get sued when they try to sell burned trees from a forest fire.

Third, the Endangered Species Act needs revamping. It is not just trying to save endangered species, but ever since President Carter it has been applying the same restrictions to “threatened species.”

“A law intended to conserve species and habitat has brought about the recovery of … less than 2 percent of approximately 2,100 species listed as endangered or threatened,” according to Damien Schiff, principal attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation and Julie McDonald, former deputy secretary for Fish & Wildlife and Parks at the U.S. Department of Interior.

The two authors of a Wall Street Journal column attribute some of the more serious problems to sloppy non-peer-reviewed biological opinions by U.S. Fish and Wildlife staff.

“Unbelievably, most data that were supposed to have informed past decisions were unavailable. In some cases, the information was never even gathered before a ruling was issued. In other cases it unaccountably vanished, e.g., the computer files alleged to hold it were said to be corrupted.”

The ESA needs to be modernized and should allow more preference for private property rights.

These things, of course, are the tip of the iceberg. The real holy grail is reducing the federal government’s footprint on our country. We’d like to do the same in California, but that is a lost cause for now.

In reviewing a book called Big Bang Disruptions by Larry Downes and Paul Nunes, regular Wall Street Journal high-tech columnist L. Gordon Cravitz wrote, “Government involvement leads to what the authors call ‘Eroom’s Law,’ which is Moore’s Law backward: Instead of computing power doubling every 18 months, regulation makes innovation harder and slower.”

“‘In heavily regulated industries,’ Messrs. Downes and Nunes write, ‘the cost and other limits imposed by regulation loom large in design, testing and deployment of new innovations,’” according to Cravitz.

The regulations holding us back include everything from all the professional licenses California requires such as hair braiders, eyebrow knitters and barbers. It includes the FDA’s stultifying regulation of drug innovation and its smothering of the genetic analysis business. It includes local regulation of taxis and attempts to prevent new mobile services like Uber. San Francisco is now trying to tax and regulate private bus and van services that pick up Silicon Valley tech workers living in San Francisco.

Reduce regulation, replace Obamacare, open this country up for more economic opportunity. Change our immigration policy one step at a time. Give green cards to every foreign student who completes a master’s degree in scientific or technical fields and is not a threat to this country. Allow more highly trained workers to immigrate.

Here are some fascinating facts assembled by John Dearie and Courtney Gedulig, authors of “Where the Jobs Are: Entrepreneurship and the Soul of the American Economy”:

“Immigrants represent 13 percent of the U.S. population but account for nearly 20 percent of small business owners.” In 2010 they employed 5 million and had revenue of $776 billion.

“…more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or a child of immigrants.”

“…of the top 50 venture capital-backed companies in the U.S. last year, 23 have at least one foreign-born founder, while 37 have at least one immigrant in a major management position.” Examples of companies started by the foreign born are Google, Intel, Yahoo and eBay.

Secondly, farmers and dairymen from California to Washington state and Georgia need agricultural workers, both seasonal and year-round. The only folks who will do that hard work are Mexicans and Central Americans. We need a plan to help our agricultural industry continue to feed America and the rest of the world.

As for the 11 million undocumented residents currently living in this country, a way must be found for changing their status to documented and paying income, and Social Security taxes and car insurance. Many of these are already working. They will not clog the labor market. In the last 20 years the workforce actually expanded as a huge number of women entered the labor force. In 1950, 1 in 3 women worked. By 1998 that ratio shift to 3 of 5. By 2008 women made up 48 percent of the workforce. In 2010, according the Department of Labor, there were 72 million women working or looking for work. The projection is for a 51 percent increase in women in the workforce between 2008 and 2018. We can easily absorb 11 million undocumented workers.

This is how we go about reviving the American dream. Simplify our government and welcome other dreamers.

Mountain Democrat

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