“March of Empires,” available in app stores, is a medieval war game.
The objective is to conquer and create a grand empire by the use of different characters that have been granted extra powers, but only one king can claim the throne. The game is based in medieval times and could not be achieved in the U.S. today.
Or could it?
Consider my piece “Controlling water in Santa Barbara” (News-Press, Voices, Jan. 13), which discussed whether the Environmental Protection Agency was controlling Mission Creek and the wetlands. Was this the primary issue in that piece?
Not really, since an even more primary issue is when this experience is repeated in every town, farm, ranch or hamlet, across the country. Now, was this the primary issue?
Again, not really. An even more primary issue is whether the “different characters” in the EPA have the “extra powers” to control the water.
It is one example of whether “We the people,” as provided in the Constitution, or “they,” the government, control our lives.
This conflict resembles the “March of Empires” game where one leader “grants” different characters, like federal agencies, “extra powers,” such as regulations to “conquer,” by controlling lives and businesses, and to “create a grand empire,” with only one leader.
How would we know if this is happening in today’s society?
One way is that the more regulations issued under the guidance of a president’s team, the greater the risk. For example, compare the number of new regulations for the previous administration to those issued by the current one.
The previous administration, led by President Donald Trump, reduced the number of regulations from the Obama administration, by issuing an executive order that required the agencies to eliminate two regulations for every new one they issued. The results six months later were that 17 old regulations were eliminated for every new one issued. Imagine how many this reduced. In addition, the highest yearly count during this administration was 214 new regulations, and twice their yearly totals were less than 80 new regulations. The economy flourished while inflation was 1.4%.
Contrast that administration with the current one that began, on Inauguration Day, with an executive order that revoked the one requiring two regulations be eliminated for each now one created, and followed it with a barrage of new regulations.
In fact, in 2021, the Biden team issued 387 new regulations, which was 173 more than the highest of any of the preceding four years. But this was just the warm up
In the administration’s second year, 2022, it issued 3,168 new federal regulations, or 2,954 more than the highest year of the previous administration.
Of these, the Office of Management and Budget deemed the impact of 257 of regulations as “significant,” and 906 of them regulated the small businesses that create the most jobs, employ the most people and are difficult to control because of their lack of unions. These regulations shifted rights from private citizens to federal agencies.
To paraphrase President Ronald Reagan, “Are you better off now than you were two years ago?”
Federal agencies were created when Congress felt that the issues arising in society were getting so complicated that they required specialized expertise to interpret, administer and enforce the congressional laws. For example, in 1933 and 34, the Securities and Exchange Act provided for the creation of the federal agency the Securities and Exchange Commission. The EPA was created by President Richard M. Nixon’s executive order, not by Congress, technically meaning that it only applies to the employees of the EPA.
The House of Representatives reserved the right to “oversee” these agencies that were granted the powers of all three branches of government. Like Congress, federal agencies can enact regulations. Like the executive branch, they can interpret and implement regulations. And like the judicial breach, they can judge compliance through administrative hearings.
The Senate has the right to decide the qualifications of the candidates the president nominates to head the agencies. However, the vast majority of employees of these agencies are not selected by either Congress or the president, and are shielded from their control by unions.
Federal agencies, including the EPA, can only enact regulations that are consistent with the laws passed by Congress. Can this be an issue?
It can be, as illustrated in my piece “Controlling waters in Santa Barbara,” which discussed the EPA’s attempts to expand the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act’s from “navigable waters” to include creeks and wetlands despite the Supreme Court denying the EPA the right to regulate wetlands adjacent to navigable water (Solid Wasteland of Northern Cook County case) or non-navigable waterways that did not directly abut navigable waterways (Rapanos case).
For example, the EPA issued a cease-and-desist order to stop the Sacketts from activities involving their pond because it was part of a wetland system that drained into a tributary which fed Priest Lake in Idaho.
This year, the U.S. Supreme Court in Sackett v. EPA is scheduled to, again, decide if it agrees with the Sacketts that the EPA should be limited to the jurisdiction defined by Congress in the Clean Water Act and endorsed by the Supreme Court, or as the EPA is arguing, the court should should defer to the EPA to set its own jurisdictional limits.
Sadly, this is just one example of the impact of the regulations administered by federal agencies on private citizens and businesses. Imagine this impact multiplied by the 3,555 new regulations issued in just the past two years.
Is one leader granting “extra powers” to “different characters” so they can create “a grand empire,” a modern version of the game “March of Empires?”
Brent E. Zepke is an attorney, arbitrator and author who lives in Santa Barbara. His website is OneheartTwoLivescom.wordpress.com. Formerly, he taught law and business at six universities and numerous professional conferences. He is the author of six books: “One Heart-Two Lives,” “Legal Guide to Human Resources,” “Business Statistics,” “Labor Law,” “Products and the Consumer” and “Law for Non-Lawyers.”