Editor’s Note – This article came out on an interesting day, another Black Swan day – Obama declares Executive Privilege over the Fast and Furious case. Despite that, the House Oversight and Reform Committee voted to hold the Attorney General, Eric Holder in Contempt of Congress – Black Swan.
By Jeff Durstewitz – PJ Media
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 list goes on and on. In the age of Obama, it looks like government increasingly is becoming a kind of “black swan” machine.
Black swans, as explained in the best-selling book by Nasem Taleb, are events so far out of the ordinary as to be massively disruptive because they can hardly be imagined, much less planned for. A recent example was the financial meltdown of 2008-2009 precipitated by securities that were thought to be safe and even “insured” (by the government, in many cases, in the guise of its mortgage packagers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac); a more recent example came last year when an earthquake and subsequent tsunami caused not only massive flooding but a nuclear disaster in Japan.
Note the distinction between these two examples, however; one was largely an outgrowth of government policy while the other was due to an act of God (or nature, or chance, as you prefer). What we’re seeing increasingly with the Obama administration is that black swan events are being manufactured and loosed upon us by our government itself. It’s no consolation that they’re coming in the name of the progressive agenda of “helping” us. It’s of even less consolation to consider that the president apparently believes he’ll have “more flexibility” to do as he pleases after November.
In the case of the fatal farm regulations what’s perhaps most shocking is that such a ham-handed attempt would have been made in the first place. Are there no adults at the Department of Labor to tell the juveniles “This isn’t going to fly, and would create huge problems for the president in an election year anyway. So get back in your room — now!” If the idea behind such moves isn’t disruption for its own sake — or to administer lessons on the power of the government to whatever it wants until we all “get it” — what is it?
In a recent Wall Street Journal column, Kimberly Strassel writes that Al Armendariz, the EPA procurator who was going to crucify oil and gas companies just to let them know who’s boss, is hardly the exception to the rule within the Obama administration but rather exactly the kind of federal enforcer the president wants. In other words, Obama considers him a feature — not a bug — in his plan to totally transform America.
But if she’s correct, that would mean that Obama-style government could no longer be considered a “black swan” machine. Why? Because these disruptions are planned, not random.
Jeff Durstewitz, co-author, with Ruth Williams, of the Bantam memoir “Younger Than That Now — A Shared Passage From the Sixties.” He lives in Saratoga Springs, NY.