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Obama Administration Fails Literacy Test

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Re: Obama Administration Fails Literacy Test

Postby RugbyD » Thu Feb 19, 2009 5:54 pm

Neato Torpedo wrote:
RugbyD wrote:
Neato Torpedo wrote:I guess if you're hung up on the dictionary definition of "voluntary" I guess you could call it dishonesty but I don't see any hidden agenda or anything here. Probably not the best choice of words, but it all depends on how you read it (or how you want to read it). Besides, there's no need to vilify them for a single word when it's pretty clear what the message is.

Hung up on? I could understand if this were shades of grey, but this is nothing short of a boldfaced black&white lie, and it takes a true coward and fraud to say it only b/c he knows he's got the govt authority of threatened violence to make it passable. I don't understand why people aren't bothered by this.

Where's the lie? I see no deception in anything other than typical political office spin on a word that could be open to wide interpretation. The government is putting their plan on the table, and unless they deviate from that plan later on, they're telling the truth. Get off that one word and approach the whole message.

For something to be voluntary, there must be at least one other choice. Whether by guidelines or rules written into agency code (the difference being enforcement provisions), companies must do X. There is no Y. There is nothing close to resembling Y. It was never a thought. Without Y, it is 100% impossible for there to be any voluntary about this. There's nothing to interpret. To call it voluntary is a lie, not just spin.

And my problem here isn't with the nature of whatever the guidlines are, it's the fact that so much power is put in the hands of unelected and generally unaccountable bureaucrats via delegation to Agency jurisdiction that makes this garbage philosophy of governance possible, permissible, and for some reason unoffensive to people.
Last edited by RugbyD on Thu Feb 19, 2009 5:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Obama Administration Fails Literacy Test

Postby Art Vandelay » Thu Feb 19, 2009 5:56 pm

RugbyD wrote:
Art Vandelay wrote:
RugbyD wrote:..and so there is nothing voluntary about this. The end result is X. For something to be volutary, the potential outcome must include something other than X.

Right. I guess I just don't understand what makes this unique, or why it stands out. Officials saying "we want X. Do it 'voluntarily' on your terms, or you're going to have to do it on our terms" happens at every level of government. I follow the Ag Dept. fairly closely, and similar "requests" certainly happend under Schaffer, and I would assume under every Ag Secretary.

You don't find anything wrong with blatant dishonesty like this? I'm not saying it's unique, it's just the principle...

Not really. I mean, I have a problem with government dishonesty in general, but this doesn't strike me as particularly reprehensible, especially compared to many of the other things that the government has lied about. That's not to say that I think it's okay for the government to lie about small, relatively insignificant things, but I just can't get riled up about this. Also, I agree with what Neato Torpedo said, "asking" them to do it voluntarily will let the companies themselves come up with their own methods, which will almost certainly be better than the government's method. It also won't force everyone to do things the same way.
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Re: Obama Administration Fails Literacy Test

Postby fezzik » Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:00 pm

Given the context I see nothing wrong with what the Agriculture Secretary said...or how he said it.
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Re: Obama Administration Fails Literacy Test

Postby JTWood » Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:58 pm

I chuckled at the first post.

The rest are making me lol.
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Re: Obama Administration Fails Literacy Test

Postby CadensDad » Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:10 am

Lets not bash Obama too much, we will be labeled unpatriotic or racist
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Re: Obama Administration Fails Literacy Test

Postby fezzik » Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:22 am

CadensDad wrote:Lets not bash Obama too much, we will be labeled unpatriotic or racist


I think criticism is very important...

I just don't understand how someone could be offended by what the Agriculture Secretary said. I can appreciate the humor...I understand the incongruous nature of the dialogue when taken in its strictest sense. I just don't see any ill will here. And I feel I'm pretty adept at putting myself in others' shoes.

If I was the one being told to change, I would appreciate that kind of directness...you need to change your packaging procedures or else we're going to have to waste your tax dollars to write up legislation to make you do so. Saves time and money IMO.
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Re: Obama Administration Fails Literacy Test

Postby Matthias » Fri Feb 20, 2009 3:57 am

RugbyD wrote:
Neato Torpedo wrote:
RugbyD wrote:Hung up on? I could understand if this were shades of grey, but this is nothing short of a boldfaced black&white lie, and it takes a true coward and fraud to say it only b/c he knows he's got the govt authority of threatened violence to make it passable. I don't understand why people aren't bothered by this.

Where's the lie? I see no deception in anything other than typical political office spin on a word that could be open to wide interpretation. The government is putting their plan on the table, and unless they deviate from that plan later on, they're telling the truth. Get off that one word and approach the whole message.

For something to be voluntary, there must be at least one other choice. Whether by guidelines or rules written into agency code (the difference being enforcement provisions), companies must do X. There is no Y. There is nothing close to resembling Y. It was never a thought. Without Y, it is 100% impossible for there to be any voluntary about this. There's nothing to interpret. To call it voluntary is a lie, not just spin.

And my problem here isn't with the nature of whatever the guidlines are, it's the fact that so much power is put in the hands of unelected and generally unaccountable bureaucrats via delegation to Agency jurisdiction that makes this garbage philosophy of governance possible, permissible, and for some reason unoffensive to people.

Ok, problems with these arguments.

1) Your unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats are generally appointed and accountable to someone who is elected, i.e. the President. Sure, some local functionary doesn't operate on that plane, but if you're quoting Vilsack as the Secretary of Ag, that's a cabinet-level position and directly appointed by the President. So this isn't someone who is lost in the machinery of government.

2) There is a difference between industry deciding on an individualized process which works best for their company and their business versus a government regulation which dots all the I's and crosses all the T's as to precisely what form and what manner and what standard everything should be held to. You might end up at a similar end-point but the journey can be significantly different.

3) At the end of the day, what's the big deal? Is this just slinging mud at the Obama administration because you think you can? What is your substantive beef?
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Re: Obama Administration Fails Literacy Test

Postby Snakes Gould » Fri Feb 20, 2009 4:27 am

CadensDad wrote:Lets not bash Obama too much, we will be labeled unpatriotic or racist


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Re: Obama Administration Fails Literacy Test

Postby RugbyD » Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:37 am

Matthias wrote:Ok, problems with these arguments.

1) Your unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats are generally appointed and accountable to someone who is elected, i.e. the President. Sure, some local functionary doesn't operate on that plane, but if you're quoting Vilsack as the Secretary of Ag, that's a cabinet-level position and directly appointed by the President. So this isn't someone who is lost in the machinery of government.

The Agency problem doesn't stop with the Secretary; that's just the tip of the iceberg. If it was just Vilsack and 3 other people in a garage it would be easy to know where the accountability lies. The problem lies in layered bureaucracy the comprises the whole organization, from the lowiest enforcement peon to middle managemement to members of policy subcommittees and so on. Just as a CEO of a company has limited influence on actual day-to-day operations, Agency heads can only be directly responsible for a limited amount of real action that goes on below them. Layering inherently reduces responsiveness and increases complexity, thereby reducing accountability. As new government programs are introduced, the layering increases and accountability declines. The root of the problem lies in the expansion of federal government and the necessary expansion of the number of unelected people employed by agencies to manage the exansion and the naturally increasing distance of those people from the relative few that are elected.

2) There is a difference between industry deciding on an individualized process which works best for their company and their business versus a government regulation which dots all the I's and crosses all the T's as to precisely what form and what manner and what standard everything should be held to. You might end up at a similar end-point but the journey can be significantly different.

The process is irrelevant to the allegedly voluntary compliance with the labelling guidelines. For example, previous guidelines may have been that the country of origin on the label is determined by where the animal is slaughtered and the new ones are determined by where it was born. For this to be voluntary, individual companies would be allowed to choose either the country of slaughter or birth in determining what goes on the label. But the reality is that the only acceptable end result would be country of birth, so there is no choice and therefore no voluntary component.

3) At the end of the day, what's the big deal? Is this just slinging mud at the Obama administration because you think you can? What is your substantive beef?

There's far more substantive and lowhanging fruit to pick from with this admin. My big beef here is with the sick joke perpetrated by Vilsack and the fact that this is apparently a perfectly acceptable practice in a country increasingly governed by agencies. This one just happened to fall into my lap yesterday. If you want a non-Obama gripe to make you happy, I offer the fact that the overlay of the expansive federal penal code has increased the number of necessary appointed federal prosecutors, resulting in lower quality and more politicized appointees who can pursue their pet peeves at the expense of quality justice. I offer you Mary Beth Buchanan of the lowly Bush2 admin.
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Re: Obama Administration Fails Literacy Test

Postby Matthias » Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:03 am

RugbyD wrote:
Matthias wrote:Ok, problems with these arguments.

1) Your unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats are generally appointed and accountable to someone who is elected, i.e. the President. Sure, some local functionary doesn't operate on that plane, but if you're quoting Vilsack as the Secretary of Ag, that's a cabinet-level position and directly appointed by the President. So this isn't someone who is lost in the machinery of government.

The Agency problem doesn't stop with the Secretary; that's just the tip of the iceberg. If it was just Vilsack and 3 other people in a garage it would be easy to know where the accountability lies. The problem lies in layered bureaucracy the comprises the whole organization, from the lowiest enforcement peon to middle managemement to members of policy subcommittees and so on. Just as a CEO of a company has limited influence on actual day-to-day operations, Agency heads can only be directly responsible for a limited amount of real action that goes on below them. Layering inherently reduces responsiveness and increases complexity, thereby reducing accountability. As new government programs are introduced, the layering increases and accountability declines. The root of the problem lies in the expansion of federal government and the necessary expansion of the number of unelected people employed by agencies to manage the exansion and the naturally increasing distance of those people from the relative few that are elected.

So you don't like big anything: government, state, company, etc. Do you disapprove of state governments then? I would be willing to bet that some states have a larger overall organization than the federal Department of Agriculture.

In any case, your concern is completely theoretical for this issue. This is not a regulation being issued by a mid-level functionary buried in the bureaucracy. This is a proposed regulation announced by the Secretary himself and reported by the media. So whatever existential concerns you have, it's inappropriately placed in this instance.
2) There is a difference between industry deciding on an individualized process which works best for their company and their business versus a government regulation which dots all the I's and crosses all the T's as to precisely what form and what manner and what standard everything should be held to. You might end up at a similar end-point but the journey can be significantly different.

The process is irrelevant to the allegedly voluntary compliance with the labelling guidelines. For example, previous guidelines may have been that the country of origin on the label is determined by where the animal is slaughtered and the new ones are determined by where it was born. For this to be voluntary, individual companies would be allowed to choose either the country of slaughter or birth in determining what goes on the label. But the reality is that the only acceptable end result would be country of birth, so there is no choice and therefore no voluntary component.

There's a difference between saying, "drive from Chicago to Cleveland" and handing you a map of directions on how to get there.

One distinction is how you track and verify that an animal is, indeed, from the country of origin that you say. Do you keep them separate via pens? Do you institute ID tags for all animals? How do you do it? And what is the penalty if one of your workers screws up (or many of your workers screw up repeatedly) and mis-labels something? Those are big differences between enacting a voluntary program and a government mandated, and thus controlled, one.
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