Systemic Progressivism, the Regulatory State, & Gas Stoves
The latest fad to fight the canard of global warming is using the Consumer Product Safety Commission to declare gas stoves unsafe and to ban them by regulation with the force of law. This is not by a vote of our elected representatives and thus should never happen.
The other day, the CPSC floated the idea of banning gas stoves in the United States, ostensibly on the basis of government-approved science. (See also here, here, here, here, and here.) The outcry made the Biden administration back off — for the moment. But anyone who thinks that this is truly off the table is deeply misguided. Indeed, just look to New York, a hard-left state that seems poised to ban all gas appliances of any kind.
New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul, during her state of the state address Monday, announced plans to ban gas heating on the construction of new buildings over the next several years.
…”I’m proposing a plan to end the sale of new fossil powered heating equipment by 2030 by calling for construction of – all new construction needs to be zero emission – starting in 2025 for small buildings and 2028 for large buildings,” Hochul said. “And we’re taking these steps now because climate change remains the greatest threat to our planet but also to our children and our grandchildren.”
Fair enough. But there is a huge difference between what New York’s elected representatives, voting in their legislature, might approve, and action by a regulatory agency in the Executive Branch of our federal government (and all regulatory agencies are part of the Executive Branch).
Just a reminder, no regulatory agency should have the power to pass a regulation with the force of law under our Constitutional system. Article 1, Section 1 of the Constitution states flatly:
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
What that means is that ONLY Congress can pass laws. And indeed, that was how our nation functioned for the first half of our existence until progressives gave birth to the regulatory bureaucracy under Woodrow Wilson as a means to get around a Constitutional system that they openly despised. And that bureaucracy has grown into a monster that, without any amendment to our Constitution, has mutated and bastardized our constitutional system at the single most fundamental level:
Today, Congress does not solely wield the legislative power of our nation. Indeed, Congress is very far from even being the most important source of our legislation. Our nation now most clearly resembles the socialist regulatory bureaucracy of the EU, where mountains of regulations with the full force and effect of law are passed by unelected bureacrats. In our nation today, individuals, businesses, and private and public organizations can be fined, sanctioned, forced to close, and jailed for violating federal regulations that have never been subject to a vote by our elected representatives, nor signed into law by the President. The genius of our Constitutional system of checks and balances is wholly obliterated in the tyranny of our modern the regulatory bureaucracy.
Congress is wholly complicit in this scheme because it means that our elected representatives do not have to vote on a host of issues that are unpopular or controversial. The Courts have been equally complicit in allowing this unconstitutional scheme to proceed, largely because the Courts became the single most important tool of the progressive movement beginning a century ago. Even today, a nominally conservative Court refused to enforce the constitutional system, opting instead to adopt a wholly illusory, subjective, and ineffectual test — CJ J. Roberts’ Major Questions Doctrine — that only had progressives laughing. It was pure theater.
By contrast, when all legislation must pass through Congress, then all of the checks and balances written into the Constitution are effectuated. That means that when a law is passed, it has significant support across the nation. Congresscritters, every one of whom is subject to the ballot box and approval of the voters, are the only people allowed to bring bills to the floor and to vote on them as laws. Two different entities, the House and the Senate, must both concur with the law for it to be passed. Moreover, in the Senate, if not excepted by the filibuster rules, the bills must garner super-majority support. Then and only then is a bill sent to the Executive, who can approve or veto the law. If vetoed, then Congress again has an opportunity to override the veto by a supermajority in the House and the Senate.
All of that is lost when a regulatory agency passes a regulation. No member of any regulatory agency is subject to the ballot box. They never have to worry about being elected. They have to go through a number of purely administrative steps to pass a regulation, including publishing the regulation for public comment, but that is administrative and, in fact, of no substantive consequence. Whatever the comments, if an ideologue is intent on altering our nation, they can declare the regulation passed. Passing that regulation into force of law is done without any vote of the people or our elected representatives. It is tyrannical and antithetical to our Constitutional system of government, and yet regulatory agencies are far more influential than Congress in the day-to-day running of our nation.
Moreover, a regulation actually passes into effect with greater protection than any single law passed by Congress. One, a regulation lets Congress hide from having to vote on the matter. Two, a law proposed in Congress must be able to survive a filibuster in the Senate and thus must be able to garner a supermajority. A regulation passes into effect without surviving any vote, let alone a Congressional filibuster. It does not matter if a majority in Congress would never pass the regulation as law. But, should Congress wish to override the regulation with new legislation, that legislation would have to survive the filibuster.
Thus the regulatory bureaucracy is being used to effect a host of fundamental changes to all aspects of our nation in ways that could never pass through Congress. This has been the hallmark of progressive governance since the Obama Administration, and if anything, it is picking up speed under the Biden administration. The proposed CPSC ban on gas ovens is simply the process popping up in the media for a day or two.
This will not end until our government is forced to adhere to the Constitution. I wouldn’t hold my breath, but I would suggest that we never let any of our elected representatives forget that this needs to change. Indeed, I look forward to the day when some newly elected President dusts off Cromwell’s speech to the Rump Parliament in 1653:
It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.
Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter’d your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?
Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil’d this sacred place, and turn’d the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.
In the name of God, go!”
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