Bureaucratic Undead

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The financial reform bill that Congress passed into law this summer was Christmas in July for statist hacks. Three noxious examples:

1. The “reform” creates 20-plus offices of “minority and women inclusion” at various agencies of the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve, etc. These specious satrapies will demand that agencies hire more women and racial minorities and grant federal contracts first to women- and minority-owned businesses; they will also apply so-called “fair employment tests” to regulated banks and other financial institutions. Such programs are stale stuff — the legalistic two-stepping that enforces quotas without acknowledging them as such.

2. It crudely lumps the financial derivatives used by airlines, utilities, and other businesses to hedge against commodity price fluctuations together with Wall Street trickery. This adds insult to injury — some of the businesses that use derivatives legitimately lost money to shady investment banks during the past few years. Now, they are being regulated as if they were i-banks themselves.

3. It creates a new “consumer protection agency” whose mission and means have been defined only sketchily. Some observers have noted that this agency may essentially replace ACORN as the preferred haven for “social justice” activists and other low-rent partisans. While the agency was promoted as a champion for consumers against predatory mortgage lenders, its charter gives it oversight of almost any company that has a “financial relationship” with consumers.

This last item is typical of corrupt legislation. It’s a sleeping monster: even if a future Congress reverses most of the reform’s mechanics, the “consumer protection” tripe will be tough to eliminate. It will likely be left in place, as the Community Redevelopment Act was, through the 1980s and early 1990s, to lie in wait until some future opportunity to make trouble.

Reversing this sort of vampire law requires more than just legislative counterbalance. The only way to drive a stake into its heart is to eliminate it completely, word for word.

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