Big business is ruining this country. Big business is using its vast resources to bribe politicians. Big business is using its lawyers to abuse the legal system to ensure favorable court rulings. Big business is not afraid of small fines passed out by the government, as this is just the price of doing business. Big business does not care about its workers because they can easily be replaced.
These statements, while some would argue that they are applicable today, are actually statements regarding the business condition in the United States between the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
If you thought politics were corrupt today, you should have seen them 125 years ago. Back then a business was free to break the law just as long as they paid the proper bribe to the appropriate authority. If you wanted to be open on Sunday, pay the police commissioner. If you wanted the court to dismiss your case, make sure you donated to the appropriate reelection campaign. If you wanted no interference by the legislature, make sure you donated enough money to the state political party.
Standard Oil is exhibit number one of the abuses of corporate power during the turn of the century. Standard Oil took advantage of the fact that there were limited restrictions upon business in America. They would come into a market and use its influence and pocketbook to drive out its competition. Once the competition was gone, Standard Oil would raise its prices and make massive profits.
Standard Oil was not the only corporation that was taking advantage of the American people. Some big businesses went so far as to put in their advertising contracts a restriction on the media from printing anything negative about their industry. Congress had passed regulations requiring railroads to charge the same rates for both big businesses and small businesses. However, fraud was discovered and the railroads were giving preferential treatment to the big businesses.
Things were bad in this country and the people were fed up with how big business could do just about whatever it wanted without fear of reprisal. It was this environment that propelled Theodore Roosevelt into the hearts and minds of the American people. Roosevelt was a politician who was fed up with the corruption in politics and how crony capitalism was destroying this nation. Roosevelt understood the power of the media and he used the media to pass his agenda.
Roosevelt was a progressive and he was constantly fighting against big business and corrupt politicians. Roosevelt expanded the reach of Government, convincing Congress to create regulatory authorities in hopes of stopping the abuses of big business.
Even though Roosevelt passed all these regulations, we watch today as major corporations buy politicians with large campaign contributions. We hear how these corporations use their lawyers to tie up cases in the court system to try to drain resources of the little guy. We see how big businesses have cozied up to regulators because they know that they can hire lawyers and accountants to get around the regulations while their small competitors will go out of businesses or simply not be as profitable.
The problem is that regulators are not content with just enforcing the laws passed by Congress. Regulators started making rules interpreting the laws passed by Congress. As regulators see new abuses, they create new rules and thus their roles expand. Courts give regulators wide discretion on passing rules, thus making it almost impossible for anyone to challenge the regulations as unconstitutional.
Presidents have discovered that they do not need to receive Congressional approval in order to get their agendas passed. Rather than fight with Congress, if the federal agencies pass new rules, they can make major changes to how government works and not worry about the checks and balances of having the approval of Congress.
Those who say that all we need to do is remove regulations to return jobs to America and restore the middle class do not understand the history that led to the regulatory environment. If we removed all the regulatory authority, it will not be long before the media will be reporting stories about the problems with big businesses who are abusing the people.
Our country was founded upon the system of checks and balances. Roosevelt’s scheme to reign in abuses with regulations violate this fundamental principle of good government. What checks and balances are there when you have the regulators making and enforcing the rules with practically no ability for the courts or Congress to stop them?
Regulatory reform by Roosevelt did not work as big businesses found ways to abuse the system in their favor. Regulatory reform did not work because it changed our constitutional republic to a plutocracy. Regulatory reform did not work because it removed the right of the people to assent to the laws that governed them.
It is time for regulatory reform in America. Good government requires that the regulators who are tasked with enforcing the rules should not be permitted to create the rules. A Constitutional Amendment needs to be passed that requires all regulations proposed by bureaucrats be sent to Congress for a vote by the people’s representative. If the regulator is correct that a new rule is needed, then Congress will pass the rule.
The United States is supposed to be a republic, which means that one branch of government is able to check another branch of government. At this time, regulations are proposed by the regulators, enforced by the regulators, and in many cases adjudicated by the regulators. Removing the rule-making authority of regulators will be a good first step to returning us to the foundations of good government. Bureaucrats should not be allowed to govern this nation without input by the people.
It is time for Washington to hear the voice of the people and the voice of the people should be demanding No Regulation Without Representation.