The Reagan Speech Preservation Society

Reagan's Basket of Kittens

Modified: Tuesday, 20 July 2021 21:59 by admin - Categorized as: Podcasts
The following is a collection of the materials used in creating the twelfth episode of the Citizen Reagan podcast about the Reagan's Radio Commentaries.





Welcome back to the Citizen Reagan podcast. If this is the first of these that you've listened to, thank you for giving me a shot. I hope you'll go back to the previous segments I have produced. What I do with this podcast is discuss the contents of the Ronald Reagan Radio Commentaries produced between 1975 and 1979. Sometimes, I may decide to talk about some other topic, but with over 1000 of these Commentaries to cover, the bulk of my work will be on them.

Today, we're going to talk about one of the many ways the government has tried to take control over your life: consumer protection. The idea being that you are incapable of making the right decisions for yourself and it's the responsibility of the government to nudge you in the correct direction.

Reagan, and others like substitute host Patrick Buchanan, used several of his commentaries to talk about the Congress's efforts to create one central agency that would have significant power to do this sort of thing. In fact, this broadcast, the second he recorded, was on this subject.

Why is the Consumer Protection Agency built like a basket of kittens? That's more than a riddle, it's a fact of life. I'll be right back.

When you were young, did you ever have the experience of trying to carry a basket of kittens? One'd pop its head up and try to crawl over the side of the basket and while you were pushing him back down another one would pop up on the other side of the basket and it'd seem there were more heads than you had hands. Well, government programs or proposals for such programs are like that. Legislation is introduced in Congress by those who think all answers must come from government. When they're defeated, too many of us relax and think "Well that's that." But just like those kittens heads, they keep popping up, until they're eventually passed.

Take the so-called Consumer Protection Agency Act, actually it would have created a big new federal government bureau, which would have the power to supersede all other government agencies, plus the power to take records and trade secrets from businesses and industries and make them public. The bill drew strong opposition from those on Capitol Hill, Democrats and Republicans alike, who don't like the idea of government playing Big Brother and who resent the idea of using consumerism to promote the notion that people are too dumb to buy a box of cornflakes without being cheated but are smart enough to choose protectors in government who can run their lives for them. The professional consumerists are really elitists, who think they know better than you do what's good for you. They fought hard for this bill, accusing its opponents of being against any kind of consumer protection, which of course wasn't true.

Those congressmen who believe that you can make your own decisions, decided to filibuster the bill. Now the filibuster is a parliamentary tradition in the U.S. Senate. It's the process of taking and holding the floor for debate until you've talked the bill to death. Those on the other side may try three times to vote for cloture, that is a vote to cut off debate and end the filibuster. Now that's traditional, but in the case of the so-called consumer protection bill, cloture was defeated three times and then in an unprecedented break with tradition, they tried a fourth time and failed.

But don't start a celebration. Like that basket of kittens this one will pop up again soon, maybe under a new title or even as an amendment to some necessary piece of legislation that everyone supports. It's a shame that Congress will have to go round and round again in this nonsense and it is nonsense. But much worse, it's as big a threat to our free economy as anything that's been proposed. Congress has the authority to change policies governing the practices of federal departments and agencies which have responsibility for protecting consumers. If there are shortcomings in these agencies Congress can correct them. To create a competing, overlapping new agency is just plain irresponsible. If you owned a store and found that one of its departments was below par, you'd consider changing management policies or personnel or prices, but you certainly wouldn't try to solve the problem by opening a store across the street to compete with yourself. Yet that's what the promoters of the Consumer Protection Agency were doing. So be ready to write your Congressman because it'll soon be time again to push the kittens back in the basket. The proponents of the Consumer Protection Agency are so optimistic they're going to try this next time for an even stronger bill.

This is Ronald Reagan. Thanks for listening.

In a previous episode regarding Tiffany and Company, bureaucratic regulation is one of the points discussed as a cause of inflation. If you have not listened to it, it's ok, I won’t spoil anything, just finish this episode, then listen to the one about Tiffany. With minor exceptions, you should be able to listen to my podcast in any order. Just so long as you listen.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, regulation. If you don't know, regulations are like laws, but they skirt around the legislative and judicial process, which makes them very odious. They often come about when Congress writes and passes a law which creates a new agency and gives them a task, but does not define how it must succeed at that task, leaving it to the new agency to decide for itself. They, meaning the new agency, create a regulation. What happens if you violate that regulation? They choose the penalty too. What about a court of law determining your innocence or guilt in the violation? Ahh, it’s not a law, it's a regulation. There is no court. There is no judge or jury. There would be very little recourse. Instead of a court needing to prove your guilt, you had the burden to prove your innocence.

Oh, and the agency created often falls under the umbrella of the Executive Branch, aka the White House. Congress has essentially ceded some of its power to an unelected group of bureaucrats. People wonder why Trump (or any president) can simply use an Executive Order to make some big change that Congress won’t do… it’s because they gave power to an agency and the president is the head of the Executive Branch. This is, in part, the swamp of Washington D.C. many want to see drained.

Two agencies, in particular, were frequent targets of Reagan's arrows during these broadcasts: The EPA (the Environmental Protection Agency) and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). Both were relatively new at the time, having come into existence under Nixon. Both found ways to invade the property of average citizens and control what was done with it. I could play numerous examples from these Reagan broadcasts, and other speeches, where he discusses these regulations.

And, a Consumer Protection Agency would produce regulations, probably lots of them. Enough to keep you safe. It would have to because there are so many ways that consumers could be hurt by the products they buy Or the companies that sell them) and apparently it is the government's job to protect us from ourselves. As Reagan said, "the notion that people are too dumb to buy a box of cornflakes without being cheated but are smart enough to choose protectors in government who can run their lives for them"

One specific part of the law Reagan mentioned is that this new agency would have the power to take trade secrets and make them public. I’m not exactly sure how this protects the consumer. It definitely sounds like its anti-business.

While he doesn’t mention it in this broadcast, we hear in others that the person behind this push for a Consumer Protection Agency and greater control of people by government for their own safety of course is Ralph Nader.

I recently found myself re-watching the 2010 Funny or Die video called "President's Reunion." In it, Barack Obama is encouraged by 40 years worth of his predecessors, to do whatever it takes to get the Consumer Financial Protection Act through Congress. Reagan, or I should say, his ghost, was played by Jim Carrey. All other presidents, from Ford through Bush 43, are played by Saturday Night Live actors who had played them previously on the show, i.e. Chevy Chase, Dan Akroyd, Dana Carvey, Darrell Hammond, Will Ferrell and Fred Armisen.

I don't think the real Reagan would have advocated for such a law. It gives far too much power to a group of unelected bureaucrats who are responsible for monitoring our money. What could go wrong? If libertarians didn't already have enough to concern them, it operates from within... the Federal Reserve and is funded by them, not by Congressional appropriation.

Boiling it all down, let me ask a simple question: Do you feel safe and secure as a consumer? If not, are you really willing to put your faith in a faceless bureaucrat from Washington D.C. to decide what's best for you, letting you sleep better at night? I know I'm not.

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