In just the last few days, the Obama Administration has directly or indirectly initiated four (see below) separate anti-business actions against American corporations, which interfere with our national economic growth and prosperity. These actions are similar to strong-arm tactics initially used by authoritarian regimes to increase central government control and to decrease individual and economic freedoms. As I said in Tuesday’s OpEd, “Attack on American Business by Obama “packed” NLRB!”, this is a very, very dangerous precedent. The policies of President Obama do not represent the American free market, limited government culture I know and admire. Specifically, the actions taken in the last week are:
1) The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has agreed with a union complaint against Boeing and South Carolina to prevent Boeing from opening the nearly completed expansion plant in South Carolina for the 787 Dreamliner.
2) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under Lisa Jackson has stopped a Department of the Interior’s previously approved Shell Oil request to drill and develop a 27 billion barrel oil reserve in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska.
3) The Health and Human Services Department (HHS) under Kathleen Sebelius has demanded the firing of the CEO of Forest Labs, a privately owned firm, under the coercive threat of refusing to do government business with the firm, if the CEO is not replaced.
4) The NLRB (again) is suing Arizona and South Dakota to invalidate a law requiring “secret ballots” for union recognition in those States. Two (2) other States have also passed similar laws. (How silly of me, I thought secret ballots were a fundamental part of our democratic freedoms.)
All of these actions represent intimidation or possibly even extortion by these government departments, agencies, and boards to bully privately owned businesses and even States of the Union to conform to the wishes of the current Administration. This is an unprecedented use of governmental administrative power in peacetime and is not in keeping with the freedoms we have enjoyed in this country for over two hundred (200) years. If this were happening in another country, we might call it “creeping fascism”. I sincerely hope this is not Obama’s intent.
Equally disturbing is the trend by the Obama Administration to bypass Congress and increasingly use administrative force, not legislation, to control and implement the Administration’s agenda and greater centralization of Presidential power. Evident in the actions above is promoting unions over business, environment over energy development, and intimidation of private businesses into conforming to healthcare and other administrative objectives. This centralization and probable misuse of administrative power is not good for our democracy or our nation.
The EPA’s frivolous and damaging action against Shell Oil is worthy of additional comment because of the importance of energy in our economy. This is another questionable environmental complaint by the EPA that forces Shell to abort its approved exploration and development of domestic oil resources in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska. The court ruling on the EPA claim is that the air quality of the remote village of Kaktovik, with less than 250 people and 70 miles away from the drilling site, will be “close to” the air quality standard (not above) based on the greenhouse gas emissions from an icebreaker servicing the site. Also claimed is the site is “too close” to ANWR (but not inside it) and wildlife will be endangered.
This action by the EPA comes at a time when higher domestic oil production is critical to reducing our dependence on vitally necessary oil from questionable foreign sources. The US currently consumes 18.8 million barrels of petroleum per day (approximately 6.8 billion/year) of which approximately 50% is imported. The proven US oil reserves are only 19.1 billion barrels. The Shell project in the Arctic Ocean was expected to add 27 billion barrels and 74 trillion cubic feet of natural gas of new US reserves, which would more than double the current level of US petroleum reserves! Shell has already invested almost $4 billion and over 5 years in the project, $2.2 billion for the leases alone.
This is another deliberate anti-business action by the Obama Administration, this time the EPA, and further stifles economic development, domestic oil production, American job creation, and encourages American businesses to move offshore. We do not need an authoritarian government that dictates to its people and its businesses what they can do, where they can do it, and how they can do it. If this policy is continued, it will restrict economic growth, innovation, job creation, and our personal liberties; AND it will further pressure our American enterprises to move to more business-friendly nations. I believe it was Thomas Jefferson who said, “That government is best which governs least.” This is good advice and should be remembered at the next election.
It’s time to take back our country and return to Constitutionally protected freedoms, free markets, economic growth, and limited government. Let’s get to work!
The Old Guy PhD