The Reasonable Person Rule…Can it Apply to a Person’s Recollection? Congressional Activity?

The Reasonable Person Rule is used as a tool in legal proceedings.  The rule can establish standards and interpretation of an individual’s version of a specific action.  As I researched some actual cases that included the use of the rule, I found it to be  commonly used in cases that involve the accusation of negligence.  I copied the following from Wikipedia.  Other groups explanations and descriptions are too complicated for my simple mind.

In law, a reasonable person, reasonable man, or the man on the Clapham omnibus is a hypothetical person of legal fiction who is ultimately an anthropomorphic representation of the body care standards crafted by the courts and communicated through case law and jury instructions.
Strictly according to the fiction, it is misconceived for a party to seek evidence from actual people in order to establish how the reasonable man would have acted or what he would have foreseen. This person’s character and care conduct under any common set of facts, is decided through reasoning of good practice or policy—or “learned” permitting there is a compelling consensus of public opinion—by high courts.

Why couldn’t we apply this rule to a litany of issues and stories in our world today?

Roy Moore maintains that he did not have an inappropriate relationship with any girl or young lady at anytime in his past.  With 6 woman accusing him of the doing so, as well as the number of people who vouch for them, wouldn’t a reasonable person be led to believe that at least one of the accusers claims are credible?

Today, the Republican party in all three branches are using their majority status to introduce a tax bill that most likely doesn’t favor the average American.  Since they are trying to proceed by taking their versions for a vote without any input from the Democrats or the American people, wouldn’t a reasonable person be lead to believe that they fear the bill would never be signed into law if they were to follow the established process?  Couldn’t the same be applied to healthcare repeal?

Is it also possible for a reasonable person to believe that the Democrats may not have a viable alternative for tax reform?

In the case of healthcare, wouldn’t  a reasonable person support the legislative efforts of Patty Murray a democrat and Lamar Alexander, a republican, relative to their bi-partisan pursuit of a plan that does not include the financial suffering and exclusion in the bills that their individual parties are trying to peddle?

With regard to the Russian investigation, wouldn’t a reasonable person be compelled to believe that based on all of the information in the media plus the obvious deception and deflection, there has to be some truth to theory that the Trump administration was involved?

In the case of the testimony from people like Jeff Sessions, wouldn’t a reasonable person believe that by them saying that they didn’t recall to every specific and important question they are actually showing a deliberate effort to lie or deceive?

thinkingman_400x400

You get the idea.  If you look at relatively recent history, there are examples of similar situations that have played out by the accused eventually coming clean and accepting responsibility.  David Letterman, for examplewas accused of having sexual relationships with coworkers and colleagues.  He eventually admitted his wrong, apologized and asked for forgiveness.  His viewers accepted his discretions at face value and moved on.  If I didn’t bring it up, how many people would even remember him for what happened?  The same goes for Bill Clinton’s escapades and Rush Limbaugh’s pain killer addiction.

It may be a stretch, but it did get me thinking.

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Low Unemployment? For Some, Not For Others

Here me out, I am not in left field with this post.  There is a cable news contributor (I think his name is Jason) who defends any criticism of the President by condescendingly expressing the same information each time.  He is always defending the President by among other things pointing out the fact that Trump is solely responsible for the improving employment picture in this country.  Every time he says it I roll my eyes and wish I was on the show to point out that he, as well as many other republicans are not conveying the whole picture to the public.

The unemployment rate in this country statistically, as reported by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics is currently at 4.1% (October 2017).

This figure reflects an increase in non-farm employment of 261,000 jobs.  That is actually pretty good.

The problem as I see it is that this single statistic does not reflect the whole employment/unemployment situation in our country.  If you look at unemployment by race and gender you can see that there is some inequity in the breakdown.  For instance the unemployment rate among African Americans is 7.5%.  The unemployment rate among the Hispanic population is 5.1%.  The unemployment rate within the Asian community is currently 3.8%.  Not surprisingly, the unemployment rate for women is 5.7%.  These statistics reflect unemployment totals for workers over 16.

My point is that the current Administration is very proud of their accomplishment relative to jobs.  The truth is that it appears that the President is doing very little to improve and increase employment opportunities for Blacks, Hispanics and women.  The positive unemployment statistics are not identifying areas where unemployment is much higher.

You can massage any statistic to reflect the result you want.  With labor, you start with an overwhelming number, not percentage, of White/European workers.  When you include the groups with much lower totals of people and higher unemployment, the smaller population’s numbers become diluted and don’t have a significant impact on the total.

Also, any legitimate graph will demonstrate that the decrease in umployment actually started to trend positive after the fincancial crisis and during the Obama administration.

I think another point is that even with the improvement in the economy (a whole different issue) and the marginal growth of the GDP, lower and middle class incomes have been static.

As a government, politically, I don’t think republicans should blame Obama for everything negative, conversely, democrats shouldn’t blame President Trump for everything that is wrong in this world.  Even though I have strong views on the issues related to one side over the other, I think it is important to be thankful for the accomplishments of both.

If it is of interest to you, I have included a couple of links from the BLS that offer more specific detail.

 

BLS A-16 Report Unemployment By Demographics

BLS A=15 Report by Household

Department of Energy in the Trump Era. The Destruction of an Institution

The department of Energy was created in 1977 by Jimmy Carter to consolidate the nuclear regulatory commission and the energy research and development commission.

According to the DOE website, the department’s current mission is or is supposed to be “to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.”

The last person to serve as Secretary was Ernest Moniz who was a nuclear physicist.  He is keenly expert in all things nuclear as well as all things related to renewable energy and their effects on our environment.  He served as Secretary from 2013-2017 until President Trump took over the Administration.  While he served, most American’s had no reason to believe that our country’s nuclear and energy programs were being overseen by someone who didn’t know what they were doing.

Up until this year, the DOE was very active in promoting and creating programs related to the development of renewable energy sources.  The government had also made a commitment to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy including oil and gas.

Today under Trump, we have a Secretary of Energy in Rick Perry who has absolutely no knowledge of how the department works.  His expertise with regard to science consists of a general knowledge of the relationship between the magnetic strip on his debit card and the card reader in the ATM.  During  a debate in the last campaign, he expressed his plan to dismantle the DOE.  Honestly, I don’t think he knew what he was talking about. I think he was just trying to say something dramatic.

Sarcasm aside, we are in big trouble when it comes to the management and development of our nuclear weapons programs.  We all know that The Trump administration has made defense a priority.  The plan is to update our defense arsenal including our nuclear weapons programs.  How would you like to represent the military and have to partner up with this new Department of Energy in order to accomodate the President’s vision?

My worry is that the President has appointed Perry less for what he can contribute, but more on how and where he was placed in order to serve as a loyal subject of Trump.  To me he was placed into the position so that our President can dictate policy to him and the department.  Incidentally, Rick Perry said in an interview with the hill in January, he thought he was being appointed to a position in where he would be a United States Ambassador representing gas and oil interests abroad.  So, this is the guy who is responsible for among other things, our nuclear arsenal.

Unfortunatley, I think that there is a good chance we are going to be faced with a catastrophic event and we won’t be able to execute a competent response.

When it comes to energy and its role in climate change, our government has recently denounced the very existence of negative climate change caused by humans.

Basically, we are supposed to believe that the President possesses some insight that the scientists don’t have.  He has even said that climate change is a scam propagated by the Chinese.  Like a lapdog, Perry buys into what Trump says then makes serious consequential changes to the department, excluding any program that is reflective of climate change or the effects of green house gasses.

As it stands now, the government has Censured the department and it’s staff in order to change the various basic terminology that refers to climate change.  Here is how they are supposed to talk about this very serious global issue:

USDA’s advice to staff on climate change language
Avoid → use instead
Climate change → weather extremes
Climate change adaptation → resilience to weather extremes/intense weather events: drought, heavy rain, spring ponding
Reduce greenhouse gases → build soil organic matter, increase nutrient use efficiency
Sequester carbon → build soil organic matter

One important and consequential responsibility of the department is to oversee and execute the proper cleanup of our country’s nuclear waste.

Where I live in Washington state there are two nuclear power plants.  One was never completed and the other is mostly decommissioned.

As a result of the discovery of a collapsed tunnel in 2017, the government proclaimed that the Hanford Nuclear site was the worst ongoing environmental disaster in the country.  Since then, Secretary Perry visited the site representing the interests of the people effected by the contamination.  He said very little and although he acknowledged the problem and promised a remedy, he has of now done nothing significant to address the problem.  I really don’t think he knows what to do.

At the end of the day, I believe that the leadership of our defense groups can partner and ensure that the nuclear weapons are properly managed.  The scary part is that we  still have one person in our country who has the ability, without consultation of congress to use our nuclear weapons anytime he sees fit

The one thing we need to do is to start reinvesting our country’s resources and expertise back into alternative energy.  We need to reestablish our commitment to produce energy that won’t destroy the very atmosphere that mankind will require to survive.

If we can’t, we should do what Perry wants and dismantle the department.  Maybe the President could replace the Department of Energy by signing the department of fossil fuel act.  In this case, If nothing else, we can prepare for the future.

The established structure of the Department of Energy includes responsible management and logical oversight of the country’s energy needs.  This would include the important relationships that the federal government has with the individual states and municipalities.  Today, effectively, all of this out the window.  Hopefuly common sense and the real needs of the public will prevail in the not to distant future.

As with other cabinet departments like the Department of Education,  these inequities will sooner or later effect our daily lives.  In some ways the Russian scandal is providing cover.  I just wish that the media that spends so much time on other, albeit important issues sets aside some time and exposes the shortcomings of other parts of our government.

The following is the organizational chart for the department.  See if you can fill in the nameless boxes with a person’s name.

DOE-Org-Chart-September-2017_0

 

The Department of the Interior Public Land Management Inequities Oil, Gas and Mining

I have spent hours and days researching and educating myself on the workings of the US Department of the Interior.  My hope was that I could come up with information and facts that reflect the role and activities of our government’s management of public lands.  There is so much information out there from various groups that contradict each other depending on whether the individual group is pro economics or pro environment.  Basically I couldn’t root out any common ground.

As it turns out, the functions of the Department of the Interior (DOI) are extremely broad including departments that you wouldn’t expect.

The Department Of the Interior was established in 1849.  The cabinet level department was created in order to manage the US’s internal affairs.  This turned out to be the department that served as the catch all for the miscellaneous functions of government that did not have an established home.  Back then the key function of the department was the responsibility for everything from managing public lands, including financial agreements to the relationships between the government and native Americans.

As it is now there are numerous sub-organizations that fall under the umbrella of this bureaucratic system.  These sub-departments include Fish and Wildlife; Indian affairs; land and minerals; water and science and insular affairs (oversees US possessions).

Surprisingly, the Department of the Interior also governs the Inspector General, being a part of the Department of Justice that oversees among other things, government conduct and matters that effect the government’s exposure to legal peril.  The DOI also oversees the Solicitor General representing the government’s relationship with the Supreme Court.

For the purpose of my commentary, the following generally reflects my fairly simple understanding of this part of the government as well as some activity related to energy and the exploitation of public lands that many Americans may not be aware of.

To me, the DOI has a direct effect on some of the biggest issues that effect the management of the people’s properties with regard to programs such as the mineral leasing act.  There is little attention within public conversation and media to the various issues, yet the consequences will have a lasting effect on the land assets of this country far beyond our children and grand children.  For me, I think we should be aware of how our country is managing our resources and be allowed to decide what happens or doesn’t happen.  Even if it means balancing the effects of making money versus the compromise of assets owned by all of us.

First off, the People of this country own 650-700 million acres of land which includes land occupied by the military.  Twenty six percent of federally owned land is or can be used for oil, gas and mining interests.

The way it works is simple.  The corporations will lease or rent land from the government, obtain permits and have at it.  The country will then generate revenue from the rent plus royalties for every barrel of oil or ton of coal extracted.

The revenue is significant and comprises a good portion of our returns on domestic oil and gas production.  There are however, some big problems with this concept.  The President, the Secretary of the Interior and many in congress look at the fossil fuel business as an easy opportunity for increasing the general income of the country.  In light of this they are actively promoting expansion, reduction in some common sense regulations as well as opening up more public land for production by the big oil companies.

As I see it, here is the problem.  Oil and gas companies are afforded ginormous hand outs and financial considerations from our government.  Lease per acre rates are very low, taxes are next to nothing and most of the common sense regulations are being repealed.  DOI Secretary Zinke (who I think is kind of shifty) regularly announces the government’s intention to expand the amount of land we make available for these groups.  It kills me to discover that they even want to allow this industry into our national parks.

It is worth noting that it is the government’s plan to aggressively pursue domestic independence with regard to oil, gas and coal energy production has been a priority of many in government long before Trump was elected.  A significant benefit of energy independence is to effectively control production and supply in order to set prices.  The difference is the current administration is running in hypermode to help these private companies gain new opportunities.

In the past oil production and prices were for the most part set by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).  Administered in large part by Saudi Arabia, this group is put together through agreements with oil producing countries in big part in order to standardize prices, efficiency as well as demand and production.

These days there are domestic indexes from domestic crude oil providers within the industry such as the West Texas Intermediate and Brent Crude which are benchmarks in setting current and future crude oil prices in this country.  In vague terms, Wall Street regularly uses the prices of these indexes to tab crude oil rates including the investment in crude oil and commodity future contracts.  Less impactful, the OPEC basket is still used by some.

In the US, the oil and gas extraction on public lands provides a relatively small number of jobs compared to what the companies generate in revenue and profits.  On the flip side, current and  future jobs that the renewable resource industries will provide make the fossil fuel companies contributions seem less significant.

With regard to sustainable and renewable energy sources, a large percentage of the utilities, private power companies, auto makers and even individuals in this country are already accepting the future and investing in cheaper, renewable sources to provide their energy.  You don’t have to be an economist to see that the very near future of clean energy related jobs in this country will out grow fossil fuel employment through the development of alternate fuel technologies.  The truth is that coal is already a dying industry with exception to what they export.

The impact of the private development of public land has an immediate negative impact on the environment.  Renewable energy and hydro power have significantly less.  As a good example of the opposite, look at China who depends on coal for the majority of their power generation.  Google china pollution images to get an idea of the obvious effects of coal on their environment.

It is kind of baffling that even China along with almost every other country in this world participate in the climate change accord.  I guess we are much smarter and can do a better job on our own (sarc).

Since there is little requirement for land rehabilitation after processed locations are abandoned, we will have to live with the permanent impact of extracting fuel from the ground.  There is already major damage to the aquifers located in and around the crude oil deposits as well as damage to the important solid ground elements that support the control of events such as erosion and even earthquakes.  There is also the matter of the  impact of crude oil processing as a result of failed facilities and pipelines.  Some of the damage such as leaky pipes will have a lasting effect on our environment.  These events are far more frequent than you would think.

We all know that oil exploration and production on public lands has existed for decades.  To me it is the expansion and locations of these projects that we can control and insist that they are not in the public’s best interest.  Up until now the main controversy revolved around the expansion of oil exploration and increased production in Alaska.  That debate is still going strong.

Since the future of our power will be provided by green sources,  I don’t think we should be expanding and opening up more public land.  To me it would make sense for the future to not allow private oil companies to grow in these areas.  I believe I am not a hypocrite on these issues even though I supported and know that Obama passed a law that was immediately repealed by Trump that would have allowed solar and wind operations on public lands that would provide power to our military bases.

Unfortunatley, the current administration supports the across the board deregulation of many laws regarding fossil fuel extraction and even construction of things like pipelines. They are not willing to acknowledge or prioritize the risks that put our land or waterways in possible, sometimes probable peril.  This seems kind of hanky to me, even though I do recognize that these issues are more complicated than I have laid it out.

This whole subject on either side has a silver lining.  Very soon, Millennials will represent the values and priorities of our country.  Many of them see alternative energy as very important to our future including employment, even if the industry is not a specific part of the job that they work in.  If you think of how progressive this group is you will find that they typically don’t generally think of anything other than solar wind or water power to provide energy for this country.

Further to the climate change issues, they have been witness to crazy weather that has not happened in our lifetime but since this generation knows of nothing else, the continuing effect of climate change is an important and ongoing matter for the future of their planet.  Overall, the Millennials will soon carry the torch with regard to stewardship surrounding the future of our country including the environment, our financial health and our dominant standing around the world.

For me, our public land is our land, not Exxon-Mobil’s.  Our government needs to get it together or the generation who is growing up will do it for us.

Incidentally, a little off the subject, how come I never hear of people expressing a hmmm moment with regard to fact that the big energy companies make more profit from the proceeds of the gas they sell to us over what they ever contribute directly to our country’s economy through taxes or related support industries.  Think about it when you consider tax reform or our growing deficit or the price of gas.

I have inserted some data regarding the hierarchy of the Department of the Interior.  I think it is pretty interesting.  Also there are many more departments within government that are not running the way they should nor are they properly staffed in order to be efficient.  Since there is so much else going on in the world, we haven’t been keeping an eye on them.  So, more to come.

Department_of_interior

 

 

The EPA

In 1970, in response to the number of confusing, often ineffective environmental protection laws enacted by states and communities, President Richard Nixon created the EPA to fix national guidelines and to monitor and enforce them.

The EPA’s basic mission is to protect human health and the environment including matters related to air, water, and land.  The EPA, state, local and tribal agencies work together to ensure compliance with environmental laws passed by Congress, state legislatures and tribal governments.

The EPA has a responsibility to protect Americans from the effects of things like Pesticides, vehicle and industrial emissions, water quality, clean air and global climate change.  These are just a few examples, there are dozens of other environmental issues that the EPA oversees.

A good example of what the EPA has had significant success with is related to the automotive industry.  The carbon emissions of cars in the 60s was finally determined to be extremely unhealthy to humans and the atmosphere.

Since then, the EPA has championed laws and regulations that executed important changes.  Evolving technology has resulted in the automotive industry building cars that are lowering air pollutants and dangerous toxins to levels at least 1,000 times less than 50 years ago.  Interestingly, today there is actually a diesel truck produced by Nissan that is engineered to all but eliminate carbon emissions. These vehicles basically emit water and nitrogen vapors that are effectively pollution free.

As it seems now electric cars are being considered as the best way to eliminate carbon emissions in the future.  Believe it or not the EPA plays a role in protecting Americans from dangerous environmental issues caused by this technology.  Just think about how the electric cars spent batteries are disposed of.

The EPA is not just a bureaucracy that is important to tree huggers and wildlife advocates.

The EPA cannot be as effective as it should be with all of the recent repeal of regulations. I am not saying that all regulations are important enough to warrant protective laws and the contribution of tax payer dollars.

Honestly, I believe that the purpose of the recent mass repeal of many laws is more to appease special interests who scream that in the case of the EPA, many environmental laws handcuff their members from being able to maximize their profits thus reducing jobs.

How and why would the current administration pamper these groups over protecting the American people.  Doesn’t it make sense that most environmental related laws are designed to police the activities of these very business groups.  As an example, decades ago, there were few regulations that prevented industry from dumping contaminated waste into the ground and our waterways.  Although this practice causes serious harm to our environment, there were limited consequences for those that were doing the polluting.  If current regulations are in place to protect the environment and stop these deadly practices, we can’t and shouldn’t have any sympathy for the companies and industries that insist that our laws hamstring their ability to do business.  To me, if your business relies on being able to pollute, then I would find another business.  By the way, I can’t see these groups closing or relocating.  I am pretty sure that they will continue to comply with the law and continue to work with the regulations.  Who are their customers?

It baffles me that the current secretary of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, has a record that compromises the role of the very department that he is responsible for.  It also baffles me that matters related to changes in our environmental policies and laws are happening under the radar of public media.  To me this is one of the most important governing bodies in our government.  I am not saying that there isn’t a majority American companies and citizens that take the state of our environment seriously.  These individuals and business leaders voluntarily police themselves and invest in environmental protections.  Unfortunately, a very significant number of American companies and interests don’t.

Just compare our progress to countries that are an environmental disaster such as China. Interestingly, even the largest polluters in this world support efforts to address climate change.  Almost all countries, except the United States and a couple of third world countries that is.  The lack of cooperation and commitment by our country via our government says a lot about how our country is looking out for future generations.

Here is just a couple of the laws that the current administration vows to repeal:

The clean power plan has been repealed by the Trump administration which unravels an Obama era law that provided rules to police the harmful emissions of the energy sector.  The government eliminated the law in part because Pruitt doesn’t believe the science that fossil fuels such as coal contribute to one third of our air pollution.  Among other consequences, this culture will have an adverse effect on global climate change.  The repeal was initiated by President Trump to release the coal industry from sensible regulation.  It is becoming obvious that coal industry is dying, even though the President thinks that eliminating regulations for this and many other groups will increase employment to levels bigger than any time in history (sarc.).

I am glad that a majority of the country’s industries, especially utilities, are and will continue to make changes and produce power from sources such as natural gas and other technologies including wind and solar power.

The Trump administration is revoking a law that gives the EPA broad authority to address violations and enforce laws related to waterways and wetlands.

Pruitt, the head of the EPA is attempting to revoke a rule titled the Effluent Limitations Guidelines which specifically effects pollution restrictions within the coal industry.  This effort is solely a result of special interest lobbying.  He claims that such a change is in the best interests of America.

Donald Trump has signed an executive order that requires agencies to eliminate two regulations for every one regulation that is added to law. The EPA is the largest agency to be effected, and not in a positive way.

If you are interested in the President’s take on accepting responsibility, google the company in South Carolina that his son went broke running and that dad bought from him.  You will read that the property was abandoned with barrels of toxic waste sitting on the back dock.  President Trump and his son wouldn’t except responsibility, even insisting the state clean it up.

I understand that managing regulation is an important core value of the republican party.  I also understand that many matters related to this agency require bi-partisan discussion and compromise.  Let’s try to work together.  At any rate, as Americans, we need to keep an eye on this important branch of our government

Next up: HUD and The Interior.