Incidents of government overreaching have come so “fast and furious” over the past several years that the most recent one seems largely to have gotten lost in the blur.
But if you live in or near farm country, as I do in upstate New York, you may have been amazed to see that the federal government, in the guise of its Department of Labor, recently set about abolishing the family farm.
That clearly would have been the result if 85 pages of new regulations proposed by the DOL last year had gone into effect. According to my local newspaper, the Saratogian, the proposed regulations “would have prohibited teens younger than 16 years old from doing many standard farm chores and limited their ability to work with livestock, which not only threatened 4-H programs, but the future of family farming itself.”
In other words, it would have been a “twofer” for Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and her swashbuckling bureaucrats in Washington — knocking off both family farms and the 4-H in one blow! Farm-country outcry killed the new diktat just before it was to take effect, and it was buried “for the rest of the Obama administration” by the ostensibly embarrassed White House.
As astonishing as this exercise in arrogance is, it’s only one part of a pattern. Consider:
- The GSA scandal, in which bureaucrats charged with improving government efficiency decided to treat themselves to a hugely expensive lark in Vegas, of all places, which the president himself had once made politically incorrect.
- The Secret Service scandal, in which agents got caught, literally, with their pants down among foreign floozies.
- The Environmental Protection Agency scandal, in which one of the agency’s regional bigs was found to have told his minions to “crucify,” like the conquering Romans, gas and oil companies at random to terrify them into submission.
- The Justice Department scandal known as “Fast and Furious,” in which drug traffickers south of the border received lethal firepower in what many believe was a bid to discredit the right to bear arms in this country.
- The National Labor Relations Board’s telling a major manufacturer, Boeing, that it couldn’t open a new plant in a “right-to-work” state.
- The ongoing scandal of the Energy Department’s backing a whole string of losers with taxpayer funds under the rubric of “alternative energy.”
- The ObamaCare overstretch in which the president snapped his fingers at the backlash over his contraception mandate (itself a major and gratuitous blow against separation of church and state) and said, in effect, “the insurance companies will pay for it,” without citing constitutional authority.
- The EPA’s seeking to bankrupt the coal industry apparently on “global warming” authority.
- The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which shocked civil libertarians by ordering colleges to use the relatively lax “preponderance of evidence” standard against males accused of rape on campus or risk losing federal funds.
The list goes on and on. In the age of Obama, it looks like government increasingly is becoming a kind of “black swan” machine.