Upsetment
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Upsetment
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Watchdog: Delayed testing could add $1B to F-35 program

Watchdog: Delayed testing could add $1B to F-35 program | Upsetment | Scoop.it
The Government Accountability Office warned of "cascading F-35 testing delays."
Kenneth Weene's insight:
More planes, more bombs: do we really need more weapons or do we need to step back from reckless military spending and wasteful military engagements? Assuredly, even those who believe we need more and better weapons have to take pause when the overruns and delays mount. By the time the F-35 is deployed, it will have overrun its costs by billions and arrived years late. Before he was elected Mr. Trump called this program "out of control." Now, he wants even "more of this pork sausage, please." How about you? Do you think we should order more F-35s or perhaps start rethinking our defense industry and its boondoggles? 
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Energy Star ratings are cheap, effective and popular. Why does Trump want to kill them?

Energy Star ratings are cheap, effective and popular. Why does Trump want to kill them? | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Everyone loves Energy Star. Why is Trump listening to the handful of fringe think tanks that want to kill it?
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Sadly, we once again see that the Trump administration has minimal concern with good government or empowering consumers. In fact, this administration seems to think about nothing but simply go with the latest impulse. "Here, Trumpy, see the pretty flower." The worst part is that those who voted for him still don't get it. This is not good governance nor an attempt to reduce the size of government, consider how quick the White House is to support screening people, dropping bombs, and expanding the demands on the secret service. It is simply mindlessness, and we the people are the ones who will in the end be screwed. Even the industry involved and the Republicans who have been involved with this program are upset that it might be ended. 
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Leashes Come Off Wall Street, Gun Sellers, Polluters and More

Leashes Come Off Wall Street, Gun Sellers, Polluters and More | Upsetment | Scoop.it
In a flurry of deregulation, the Trump administration has already suspended or reversed more than 90 rules. And industry is clamoring for more.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
The GOP is moving to quickly remove regulations: Rules that kept crazy people from easy access to guns, that kept gaol mines from dumping in rivers and streams, rules that required security salespeople to tell you if they are getting paid by the company issuing a product, and your phone company won't have to protect your personal information. Wow, what a better world deregulation will bring...NOT. Oh, it will be better for businesses. It won't be better for the rest of us or for nature where lead bullets will once again be fouling the environment and poisoning birds and small animals. Sure, corporations will be making a bit more money, but how does that help voters? I'm all for getting rid of the burdensome and unnecessary regulations, but were these the ones that GOP voters had in mind? I certainly hope not. But, sadly, it is what they have unleashed on us all. And this is only the beginning. 
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Trump’s Military Buildup Threatens to Gut U.S. Coast Guard

Trump’s Military Buildup Threatens to Gut U.S. Coast Guard | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Trump’s Military Buildup Threatens to Gut U.S. Coast Guard « | Foreign Policy | the Global Magazine of News and Ideas
Kenneth Weene's insight:
I'm not a great believer in spending money on the military. But, of the five branches of our military, the one that has consistently shown competence and dedication, the one that actually helps people and takes part day to day to make America safer is the Coast Guard, so, of course, that is the one branch that the incompetents in Washington now want to cut back. Seriously, has Trump and company done any homework? Have they thought about their proposals or is it all "way more complicated" than they figured. Semper paratus, but how do they stay prepared to deal with situations like the Gulf Oil Spill or ice breaking or rescuing ships at sea or interdicting smugglers without ships, manpower, and operating funds? 
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Trump Administration Seeks to Loosen Hiring Requirements to Beef Up Border Patrol

Trump Administration Seeks to Loosen Hiring Requirements to Beef Up Border Patrol | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Trump Administration Seeks to Loosen Hiring Requirements to Beef Up Border Patrol « | Foreign Policy | the Global Magazine of News and Ideas
Kenneth Weene's insight:
And will hiring thousands of new agents really make a difference? Of course not. The vast majority of undocumented aliens come into the US legally, not sneaking over the border. Meanwhile, unprepared and sometimes dangerous people will be given guns and badges. Sure the ICE guys will feel good because their agency will have grown and their budget, but I don't see this ending well. Oh, yeah, and once again we see the growth of the federal government and spending not to make our lives better but to give the government more lackeys with weapons. Bad policies just seem to be an American speciality. 
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You’re Not Crazy, The Leaks Coming Out Of The Trump Admin Really Are YUGE

You’re Not Crazy, The Leaks Coming Out Of The Trump Admin Really Are YUGE | Upsetment | Scoop.it
In the thirteen days since President Donald Trump was sworn in, headlines have screamed about mass dismissals at federal agencies, tense phone calls with world leaders, and a commander-in-chief who stewed for days over coverage of his inauguration crowd size.

Many of these unflattering details about the turmoil at the White House and inner psychology of the President have come from a steady stream of anonymous leaks. Presidential historians and veteran political journalists agree they’re unlike anything they’ve seen before.

“I can’t recall having seen a situation where there appears to be so much leaking of such an intimate nature in such a short period of time,” Russell Riley, expert on presidential history at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, told TPM.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
And I thought Obama was a lousy administrator. Disorganization, disorder, and discontent and only two weeks into the job, When will Pence tell this guy that he's fired? More and more I'm thinking 25th Amendment. 
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WSJ: Trump Set To Restructure Intel Agencies, Which He Thinks Are Biased

WSJ: Trump Set To Restructure Intel Agencies, Which He Thinks Are Biased | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Donald Trump and his transition team are working on a plan to revamp and reduce the size of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA because the President-elect believes that the U.S. intelligence community is biased against him and has tried to undermine his election, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday evening.

Trump's national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, and his nominee to lead the CIA, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) also believe that the DNI and CIA are biased, and the two are helping devise the plan to restructure the agencies, according to the Journal.

Per the Wall Street Journal:
Kenneth Weene's insight:
I figure this is going to get me some enemies, but I think Mr. Trump is right to question the goals and efficiency of the espionage (intel) community. While I know they love America, they seem to me to have distorted views of the world. Instead of changing with the times and encouraging us to grow new relationships, they are stuck in the mindset of the late 1940s and 1950s, a mindset in which Russian communism was the bugbear and the Kremlin's domination of the world was the great horror. While I'm not an apologist for the Kremlin or a Commie, I do know that the world wasn't that simple then and still isn't. 

For example, consider Asia. I know that Mao didn't steal mainland China from democracy with the help of Russia. Chaing lost it because his administration was totally corrupt and unconcerned in the face of the human suffering. In Vietnam, the same thing. The Buddhist people of the south didn't want to be taken over by Ho's communist regime, but they preferred it to the repressive and self-serving government in Saigon. Certainly the madness that took over Cambodia after the US forces did their dirty-work was done in the name of Communism, but the people who carried it out were detested in Moscow. Meanwhile, by ignoring and even trying to sabotage Chinese Mainland interests, we lost whatever leverage we might have gained by working with Mao and his government to alleviate the suffering of their people and to bring them into the modern world. Even in Korea, while we were right to oppose aggression from the North, we ignored China's message to us—via India because we refused to have relations with Beijing—as to what they would and would not tolerate. Instead, the CIA encouraged Douglas McArthur in his ill-advised adventure to the Yalu. 

And that's just my brief with our "intelligence community" in Asia. So, Mr. Trump, I think you may be moving in the right direction here. 
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Six maps that show the anatomy of America’s vast infrastructure

Six maps that show the anatomy of America’s vast infrastructure | Upsetment | Scoop.it
A look at the United States’s bridges, electrical grid, pipelines, railroads, airports and waterways
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Historically, the federal government has always had a hand in creating the infrastructure by helping to secure funding, most famously by giving land grants to railroads, by direct building of the Interstate road system, and by providing airmail contracts to help airlines. Mr. Trump's idea of spending to update our infrastructure is a good one. As with all such sweeping ideas, the devil will be in the details. Hopefully, he will put together a better team to implement his great project than Mr. Obama did for his project of affordable health care. This may be the biggest test of Mr. Trump as president, since he claims to be a great business administrator. 
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Americans are losing faith in democracy — and in each other

Americans are losing faith in democracy — and in each other | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Many voters say they would question the legitimacy of a win by the presidential candidate they oppose, which is a terrible sign for the electoral process.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
What about you and me? Do we trust one another? Do we believe in the legitimacy of American institutions? If we are losing the sense of mutual trust for one another and our system, what must we do to restore faith, or were such beliefs always just an illusion anyway? 
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Congress should impeach the IRS commissioner — or risk becoming obsolete

Congress should impeach the IRS commissioner — or risk becoming obsolete | Upsetment | Scoop.it
The power of impeachment is Congress’s best tool to fight executive overreach.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Mr. Will, as is often the case, misses the real issue in favor of opposing government as an evil. The real problem is that too much of the government is administered badly. This doesn't demonstrate venality on the part of appointees but rather the thinness of the bench of government employees and the tendency for inept paper-pushers to end up in government while the more competent people flow into business. Of course, there are some outstanding and dedicated civil servants, but not as many as were once available. Part of this is due to the failure of the political system to offer compensation that is as good as the money to be earned in the private sector, especially with all the ways for businessmen to avoid paying taxes. Also, the politicos have reduced the benefits of government workers. Another problem is the failure to create meaningful metrics for civil service tenure and pay-grade increases. Of course, Commissioner Koskinen is not a civi servant but a political appointee, but his career is more about trying to rescue badly functioning organizations than about politics. In fact, he is almost a poster boy for the unknown appointee circuit having done such meaningful things as being President of the U.S. Soccer Foundation and Chair of the President's council on Year 2000 conversion, yeah Y2K. So, how about we make government service once again an honor sought by the competent and skilled?
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Senators rap Energy Dept. for enabling contractor retaliation against whistleblowers

Senators rap Energy Dept. for enabling contractor retaliation against whistleblowers | Upsetment | Scoop.it
"The Department of Energy’s continued failure to protect whistleblowers from retaliation has tapped the last of our patience."
Kenneth Weene's insight:
It's good to see a few members of the Senate trying to make a real difference when it comes to whistle-blowing. It is obvious to me that the Energy Department should not be helping companies to hide their failings. In fact, I think that government agencies have a responsibility to make it easier for corporate whistleblowers to come forward when government contracts are involved. Also, for the good of the economy and our society, government should be protecting whistleblowers even when government contracts are not involved. Transparency is essential to a properly working capitalist system. The Russians called it glasnost when they were trying to bring such open discussion to their system, and it helped bring down the failed Soviet system. Funny thing about that, openness and discussion are essential to good government and to good economic systems but bureaucrats and autocrats always want to suppress information. 
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U.S. Falls Behind in Arctic Great Game

U.S. Falls Behind in Arctic Great Game | Upsetment | Scoop.it
U.S. Falls Behind in Arctic Great Game « | Foreign Policy | the Global Magazine of News and Ideas
Kenneth Weene's insight:
So much of American policy is driven by denial and the belief that we are inherently number one. Sadly, we do little longterm planning and often find ourselves rushing to catch up. This is another example of that failure. The White House is way to concerned with today's crisis and lacks a builtin system for take the long view. At least in part that is because we think of government as having a four year shelf-life rather than an ongoing function. No matter what goals and ideas the Obama administration may suggest, they will be scrap heaped by the next POTUS, even if it is a Democrat. This is not a good way to run a country and certainly not a good way to face the challenges of the future. 
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Leader of Syria Rescue Group, Arriving in U.S. for Award, Is Refused Entry

Leader of Syria Rescue Group, Arriving in U.S. for Award, Is Refused Entry | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Raed Saleh, of the Syria Civil Defense group, was to accept an award from InterAction, an alliance of international aid agencies. He was stopped at Washington’s Dulles International Airport.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Once again Washington bureaucracy demonstrates its inability to care about people. Raed Saleh represents the best of humanity in the horror that is Syria. 
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Afghan war costs US $1 trillion, hastening retreat

Afghan war costs US $1 trillion, hastening retreat | Upsetment | Scoop.it
The Afghanistan war has cost the U.S. taxpayer nearly $1 trillion and billions more is at stake after involvement officially ends this month.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Whether we blame Bush W or Obama, the simple fact is that a hell of a lot of money has gone down the river under their combined watches. Worse, it apparently has bought nothing either for America or for the people of Afghanistan. Sadly, many people just don't get it; but IMHO constantly spending on military adventurism is about as sensible as allowing our infrastructure to fall apart or our educational system to deteriorate. In other words, this money could have been better spent and in the process good jobs for Americans would have been created. I am not saying that we don't need some military; of course we do, but just as the Roman Army eventually led to the downfall of the republic and just as the British navy couldn't keep the sun from setting on the empire, so too the United States' military is not going to save the American Century. That can only be accomplished by diplomacy and innovation. 
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What Does the Fourteenth Amendment Anchor?

What Does the Fourteenth Amendment Anchor? | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Official website for author Kenneth Weene.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
April 9, 1865, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered his army to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia. The War Between the States was effectively over, but there was never a peace treaty. In place of such a document was the Fourteenth Amendment. Which brings us to the efforts of many to fight that amendment to this day. Here's an essay I wrote a while back about that fight. 
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Analysis | Trump’s claim that Waters of the United States rule cost ‘hundreds of thousands’ of jobs

Analysis | Trump’s claim that Waters of the United States rule cost ‘hundreds of thousands’ of jobs | Upsetment | Scoop.it
There's no evidence to support Trump's claim blaming the loss of jobs to a rule that has not yet gone into effect.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
There is no clash between the good of people in general on one side and the creation of jobs and wealth on the other than that over water. Clean, potable water is essential to life and is integral to the quality of our environment. Government has an obligation to make sure that our water is protected. On the other hand, water is essential to many industries and the effluence from industries often befouls the water supply. Finding the right balance is essential. Clearly, Mr. Trump has simplistically gone in one direction, and to be fair Mr. Obama may have allowed things to go out of hand in the other. This is an area in which we don't need exaggerations and impetuous actions but careful study and planning. Will it only be when we are all dying of thirst that the government will decide to study the problem properly? 

Meanwhile, if you want to read one of my environment oriented stories, how about Apple Pies and Elephants? http://www.bewilderingstories.com/issue416/pies_elephants.html ;
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Grudges and kludges: Too much federal regulation has piled up in America | The Economist

Grudges and kludges: Too much federal regulation has piled up in America | The Economist | Upsetment | Scoop.it
IF REPUBLICANS in Congress unite behind Donald Trump’s agenda, it will not be because they have changed their views on economics. Whatever Mr Trump’s plans for border taxes and fiscal stimulus, most Republicans still profess to support free trade and loathe government borrowing.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
A good, thought provoking look at the question of government regulation. Clearly, the goal should not be to dismantle all regulation or to allow corporations to skirt reasonable rules. Nor is it wrong for government to push business to respect workers, the environment, and consumers. However, the rules and regulations must be reasonable and administered in an efficient and rational manner. They should not be a kludgy array based on the squeak of wheels. As for what is important to protect, well perhaps that is where we need a clearer voice from Congress. 
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Donald Trump moving forward with plans to kill National Endowment for the Arts, PBS and NPR

Donald Trump moving forward with plans to kill National Endowment for the Arts, PBS and NPR | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Federally funded art programs stand to be eliminated as part of 2018 budget.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Even the Roman emperors, even Hitler and Stalin, even Mao: almost all the dictators and worst people of all time knew that the arts were important and deserving of support. But not American conservatives. It surely isn't the paltry amount of money. I may be simply the idea of government. But, I suspect it is that the arts get people to think and wonder, and thinking and imagining are contrary to the simplistic, Christian authoritarianism of the American right. This is just getting sickening. 
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EPA Freezes Grants, Tells Employees Not To Talk About It, Sources Say

EPA Freezes Grants, Tells Employees Not To Talk About It, Sources Say | Upsetment | Scoop.it
It's unclear whether the freeze is temporary or indefinite.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
What do you think: Is the first move in a reevaluation of government programs to lead to better use of our monies or is it a shot across the bow of progressive political goals such as protecting the environment? What I do know is that whistleblowing in the dead of night usually means there are serious issues at stake. Government should be transparent and give us, the people, information except in cases of war and diplomacy where the enemies are too dangerous. To have whistleblowing so early in the new administration makes me a bit concerned. 
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The Last Diplomat

The Last Diplomat | Upsetment | Scoop.it
As Robin Raphel worked for the State Department in Pakistan, her brand of traditional diplomacy ran into the new realities of covert surveillance. The collision turned her life upside down.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
When relating to and knowing foreigners is dangerous territory for a diplomat, you know that the ideologues have taken over the government. isn't that exactly what we need to worry about in America, that our nation will stop being rational and pragmatic and become ideologically driven? Perhaps it's time for the FBI to be cut down to size. 
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Trump’s Promises Will Be Hard to Keep, but Coal Country Has Faith

Trump’s Promises Will Be Hard to Keep, but Coal Country Has Faith | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Though experts say out-of-work miners are likely to be disappointed by Donald J. Trump’s economic plans, his supporters in West Virginia believe he can bring jobs back.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
We might be able to introduce new industries into coal country and into our big cities. We have lots of workers who could be employed. There are two problems. First" We need a government objective that will give impetus to those industries just as the road building of the 50s drove the automotive industry and the railroad/steel boom, which included coal, was driven by the railroad expansions of the nineteenth century. Second, and this is the biggest issue, is that workers want more than personal employment. They want a sense of permanence and generational security. Consider how many sons, grandsons, and even great-grandsons have gone into the mines. 

New industries no longer offer that sense of permanence. In Europe the state has become the vehicle by which security is conveyed. Pensions, education, health care, child care, and even housing have become a concern of government so that people don't have the anxiety about their children that Americans experience. That is what we in the states mistakenly call socialism and then curse as Communist when in fact it is Democratic Socialism. 

Only when the government is allowed to take its proper interactive role to foster both business and individual well-being can we hope to move forward for all. Take, for example, the building of alternative energy generation and improved local transport systems, two areas in which the government could take a stimulating role. 

So, to those who are expecting a resurgence of coal mining and automobile building, I can only say, "Lots of luck with those dreams." 
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The F-35 Stealth Fighter May Never Be Ready for Combat

The F-35 Stealth Fighter May Never Be Ready for Combat | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Testing report contradicts the U.S. Air Force’s rosy pronouncements
Kenneth Weene's insight:
One of the most important functions of a President is to make sure that the government constantly monitors itself and its own progress. Nowhere is that monitoring more important than in the military-industrial-espionage complex which not only eats huge amounts of government money but is tasked with protecting our country from enemies. Of course, that giant maw doesn't take well to monitoring. At least at the Pentagon, there is supposed to be an independent monitoring function run by the director,Operational Test & Evaluation. At this time, that director is a good man named Michael Gilmore. His views about one of the Air Force's pet projects, as summarized here, are devastating. Of course, the real problem is not just that obviously the F-35 has been a boondoggle but also that the next POTUS will get to appointed a new director, one who perhaps will be more willing to lie to the White House, Congress, and us. I give Mr Obama credit for appointing an honest forthright person to this position and hope that the next POTUS will have the same determination to at least try to keep the Pentagon and its supporters in check.

Now, can we just stop Congress from putting district jobs ahead of real national security? Can we, perhaps, require everyone who serves on the Appropriations and Defense committees of both houses to regularly watch a performance of All My Sons? 
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Inside the administration’s $1 billion deal to detain Central American asylum seekers

Inside the administration’s $1 billion deal to detain Central American asylum seekers | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Corrections Corporation of America has a four-year, $1 billion contract, despite holding few immigrants.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Outsourcing makes it ever harder for government to change direction because there is such a vested interest from a business to keep things the same. When it comes to prisons and detention centers the pressure to keep locking people up is just plain crazy wrong. Now, to add the insult of constant payments no matter what the need is truly to create the essential of a fascist economic state. This is one of the worst things I've heard of the Obama administration doing. Shame on them and shame on the United States. 
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Why Bigness Became a Bipartisan Cause on Capitol Hill

Why Bigness Became a Bipartisan Cause on Capitol Hill | Upsetment | Scoop.it
A source of anger in an election year
Kenneth Weene's insight:
The key ingredient for workable capitalism is the existence of free markets in which competitors can vie for customers with both price and quality and in which informed consumers can take advantage of that competition to search for the best deals. Today, the consumer-producer interface is almost non-existent as megalithic structures such as banks, holding companies, and box-stores have gobbled up the economy in a feeding-frenzy. Now, they are trying to take over the political process using unlimited money, hidden mechanisms like ACORN, and distraction possible by controlling the media. Will there be enough resistance to generate a new political party? Can we as a nation rethink and recreate our democratic system? From my perspective, we are facing not a slippery slope but a precipice. It is time for America to take herself back from the money changers. 
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Why victims of deadly meningitis outbreak haven’t been compensated

Why victims of deadly meningitis outbreak haven’t been compensated | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Victims are supposed to have access to funds totaling millions in compensation.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
This is the kind of government and legal system dysfunction that underlies the wave of discontent that is sweeping through America. Both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are riding that wave, but the fact is that no POTUS can make such idiocy and indifference stop. We must stop focusing on the work of lawyers and accountants and start taking a broader view of how the government is supposed to function. By the time this is worked out, those who are most deserving of the small restitution that might be offered will no longer be able to use it and a few pennies will go to their relatives. The rest will have been eaten up by the bureaucracy and legal fees. The saddest thing is that the resulting outrage may feed not the energy of those who would make the government more responsive but those who would take advantage by decrying government regulation and control when in fact the original problem so clearly demonstrates the need for government oversight in some areas, such as health and safety standards. 
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