Posts tagged Regulation

The power to regulate is the power to destroy.

I had some far-off hopes that the general atmosphere of backstabbing chaos currently reigning within the state GOP might have derailed the awful abortion bills pending in the Alabama legislature from moving forward. Unfortunately not; the majorities managed to put everything else aside and force through a vote before the end of the session, and just sent the governor two bills directly intended to obstruct abortion access in the state of Alabama. They haven’t yet been signed into law, and are awaiting the governor’s approval. Here is the latest in Alabama Republican reproductive regulation:

  • SB 363 is a procedure ban on Dilation and Evacuation (D&E) abortions. Since 2015, a number of state anti-abortion outfits have been pushing these bills (here called Dismemberment Abortions, a propagandistic phrase coined by anti-abortion activists, parallel to the coining and use of Partial Birth Abortion to push Intact Dilation and Extraction procedure bans over the last two decades). Since they already won a federal prohibition on the most common procedure used for second-trimester abortions after 20 weeks, they’re now pushing for state prohibitions on the most common procedure used for second-trimester abortions before 20 weeks.[1] If they have their way, some day it will be technically legal to get an abortion in the state of Alabama, it’ll just be illegal to use any actually existing medical technique to get one.

  • SB 205 is a bizarre TRAP law that would prohibit the Alabama Department of Health from issuing or renewing licenses to abortion clinics located within 2,000 feet or less of a public school. This is the same perimeter that the state uses to exclude convicted sex offenders from living or working near a school. The bill’s sponsor claims that it is intended to prevent children from seeing the chaos that surrounds abortion clinics. By chaos, he means anti-abortion protesters; when a howling crowd of anti-abortion protesters harasses your building every business day, Republican state legislators decide that instead of convincing the anti-abortion to move, you have to pick up and move your building. The bill appears deliberately designed to force two of the five clinics in the state (Huntsville and Tuscaloosa) to shut down temporarily and undergo the expense of relocating. The Huntsville clinic in particular is in its current location, near a public middle school, because two years ago the state legislature forced it to close down and relocate there from its former downtown location with a previous TRAP law mandating special building standards for abortion clinics which were impossible to meet in their downtown location. So forcing them to shut their doors for months and relocate to their present location near a Huntsville middle school, the state legislature turns around and says Ha, nope, not there. Some day, if they have their way, you’ll technically be legally permitted to get an abortion in Alabama, it’s just that there will be not a square inch of land left in the state where anyone can actually operate a clinic.

These bills continue years of a deliberate policy of harassment by constant, ever-changing, unpredictable, ever-more-invasive hyperregulation of clinics, by anti-abortion legislators who pile on layer after layer of invasive hyperregulation, with an overt intent to destroy de facto access to abortion in Alabama without ever enacting a formal de jure ban that would be overturned in court. While politicians continue to pretend that abortion rights aree primarily a political battle conducted between those who favor permissive policies and those who favor restrictive policies, in real life, on the ground, the most dangerous threat to abortion and reproductive healthcare is the ever-growing, ever-shifting expansive power of the state to harass and regulate providers out of existence through licensure requirements and invasive, micromanaging targeted regulation.

The ACLU has a petition up urging the governor to veto these invasive laws:

Shared Article from American Civil Liberties Union

Stop Alabama's Attack on Abortion

Tell Alabama's Governor Robert Bentley to care about women's lives and safety and veto two anti-abortion bills - add your name now.

action.aclu.org


  1. [1]There are no exceptions to the ban for pregnancies that resulted from rape or incest, there is no general exception for abortions necessary for the health of the mother; the only exception is that the procedure is allowed only if necessary to prevent serious health risk, defined in the text as meaning a condition that so complicates her medical condition that it necessitates the abortion of her pregnancy to avert her death or to avert serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.

Friday Lazy Linking

  • feeling really sad… bfp, flip flopping joy (2011-02-23). and shocked—like slapped in the face over the death sentence verdict in the brisenia flores trail. I can’t feel even momentary joy that I then talk myself through. i never expected this death sentence. i’m from michigan. where as fucked up as things are…we don’t have the death penalty. i... (Linked Thursday 2011-03-03.)

  • A Skater Reaches Out. cherylcline, der Blaustrumpf (2011-03-01). I’ll have something more to say about boys’ clubs at some point, but for now, I appreciate the efforts of skater Eric Muss-Barnes to get more girls into skateboarding, an activity in which women are extremely underrepresented: I’m quite disappointed that so few girls ride and they get so little... (Linked Thursday 2011-03-03.)

  • Har Har, Politicians are Prostitutes! Or Not. cherylcline, der Blaustrumpf (2011-03-02). Harry Reid’s disingenuous proposal to outlaw prostitution in Nevada would only endanger prostitutes, but as usual, most commentators were more concerned with making a punchline.  From the libertarian peanut gallery, and elsewhere, you could hear men laughing uproariously at their own lousy joke:  the real prostitutes are politicians!  OMG, LOL. ... (Linked Thursday 2011-03-03.)

Get the Gun Out of the Room.

Sheldon Richman recently published a TGIF column A Free Market in Banking? Not Even Close in which he points out that when folks like John Quiggin claim that free-market economic ideas have been tried and found wanting in the late economic crisis, they are attacking a Ridiculous Strawman of free-market ideas. There has been, to be sure, an economic crisis, which had something to do with bankers acting recklessly and exploitatively. But not because they were unregulated: there is no such thing as unregulated banking or a free market in money, and never has been at any time in the history of the United States (the Fed is a problem, but it’s far from the first problem).[1] In comments on this story, Shyla asks the musical question:

This article raises a critical question about how to structure our economic policies in light of the recession, spiraling debt, and financial collapse.

Let’s say I buy the argument these catastrophes were precipitated by crazy distortions in market forces. Richman suggests these crazy distortions are the result of corporatist influence and unintended consequences.

How do libertarians propose to counter “the competition-inhibiting partnership between influential businesses and government officials?”

Well, one possibility is to get rid of the government officials.

When positions of power are held in place, I think it’s a fool’s errand to try to devise strategies for keeping the wealthy and well-connected from corrupting and exploiting the power of these offices to their own ends. Political processes tend to benefit the politically-connected, and every federal regulatory agency, from the FTC down to TARP, has a long and sorry history of being captured and exploited by the trusts, cartelists, monopolists, robber-barons and financial sharks that they were supposedly concocted to restrain. So rather than worrying about how to stop influential businesses from capturing the regulatory apparatus for their own ends, better to abolish the regulatory apparatus, and refocus on economic, rather than political, means of responding to economic crises.

Of course, you may want to ask the question one step back: how, then, do you get rid of the government officials? (I.e., how do you stop admittedly influential players from exerting their influence over the legislative process, in order to assure that the offices they want created and sustained are created and sustained, in spite of popular indifference or popular objections?) Well, that is admittedly a hard problem. My answer is that in order to get rid of the government officials, you ought to get rid of the government.

I don’t doubt that as long as a legislative process is monopolized by a single, professional political apparatus, that apparatus will be an attractive prize and a willing tool for the influential and wealthy. Concentrated power will always be vulnerable to co-optation, corruption, and exploitation by those who are well-placed to take advantage of it. Attempts to vest all political authority in a single, professionalized, territorial monopoly, but then to turn around and strictly limit that government (for example, by means of a written constitution, or regular elections of officials) have always and everywhere failed. If initially limited, it will grow; legislation will multiply officials, establish bureaucracies, and ratchet up the level of political control, in response to pressure from the concentrated interests (chief among them influential businesses) that benefit from all that. Not because power cannot possibly be limited, but because concentrated power cannot be counted on to limit itself in the absence of any ultimate accountability or threat of competition. The solution, then, is not to find ways to insulate concentrated power from outside influence (which, even if achieved, would make an even worse problem: an absolutely unaccountable absolute state). It’s to diffuse power throughout civil society, rather than concentrating it all in a single, professionalized, territorial monopoly government.

Of course, you may now want to ask the question one further step back: if the solution to business-regulatory collusion is to get rid of the regulatory offices, and the way to get rid of regulatory offices (in spite of business pressure to create them) is to get rid of government, then what’s the way to get rid of government? Well, that is a hard problem, and I don’t have an easy answer. Perhaps it is impossible under present social and economic conditions. I’m inclined to doubt that, but if it is, then surely the answer is to work towards changing present social and economic conditions, around the edges and where possible, by means that avoid the corporate-political nexus, and in ways that undermine the corporate-political nexus’s control over our thoughts and everyday lives: spreading libertarian ideas, educating people about the ways in which bankers and other influential businesses have never been subject to free market conditions, how influential businesses have used the state for their own ends, helping people become more self-sufficient, materially secure and culturally respected while working “outside the system,” encouraging forms of protest, social activism and community organization that operate outside of conventional electoral politics or legislative lobbying, etc. Some of my fellow Anarchists call this “building the new society within the shell of the old”; if anarchy is not now possible, that’s no reason to imagine that even more fanciful utopian schemes (such as “progressive regulation,” “good government,” or “limited government”) are any more plausible or likely to succeed. And if anarchy is not now possible, there is no reason why we should give up on working anarchistically to make it possible in the future.

See also:

  1. [1]Richman discusses efforts at national banking cartels dating back to Alexander Hamilton, restrictions on branch banking, and regulations of interest rates and currency. The only thing I’d want to do at this point is to add: to discuss how legal tender laws, government tax policies, and government-enforced economic dependency and state capitalism conspire to create an artificial demand for liquidity in general, and balances in government-approved cash in particular; how 19th century banking regulations specifically taxed or prohibited co-operative forms of credit and money backed by goods other than government-approved precious metals; how government war bonds, the coercive extraction of tax revenues, and the promise of government bail-outs have been undergirding and coercively securing American banking bidniz models since the Revolutionary War; and the rest of the usual mutualist song and dance about the Money Monopoly.

Monday Lazy Linking

Monday Lazy Linking