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On Government Regulation: A Call to Courage
National Review ^ | 09/25/2012 | By Lee Habeeb & Mike Leven

Posted on 09/25/2012 5:10:22 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

It’s a riveting pitch. The 60-second U.S. Marine Corps commercial begins with images of soldiers running straight into scenes of chaos and danger. The commercial ends with a question that crosses the screen:

“Which way would you run?”

Since the founding of our nation, Americans have selflessly responded to the call of duty, and volunteered to run into harm’s way. And not for the money, but to serve their country.

Contrast that kind of courage with the way many of our nation’s CEOs deal with chaos and danger.

For decades, the ever-growing administrative state has made it increasingly difficult for business leaders to do their jobs. While regulators do play a role in protecting our free-enterprise system and the lives and health of our citizens, much of what passes for regulation has nothing to do with protecting the environment or making the markets safer; it’s about power, control, and revenue. And sometimes, it’s about protecting the interests of one group at the expense of another.

A case in point.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, we learned about what should have been a routine conference call on some rule changes that impact small and regional banks. On the call were officials at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and nearly 1,500 bankers. A man who identified himself only as a fourth-generation banker from Minnesota began complaining about the possibility of having to set aside much more money when making nontraditional mortgage loans.

The banker didn’t understand why the bureaucrats were for this change, because he’d been making loans of that type for nearly 40 years, with almost no defaults.

That’s when things got interesting.

“Then came an eight-letter barnyard epithet,” the Wall Street Journal’s Victoria McGrane reported. OCC officials cut the Minnesota banker off to take another question, but the next three bankers in line agreed with him.

The Journal reported that “executives at many small banks complained that the rules could force them to cut back on loans to small businesses or homeowners. Camden Fine, president of the Independent Community Bankers of America . . . said that he had never heard such blunt talk from bankers.”

Fine added that “more than 100 emails piled up in his box after the conference call, and similar outreach efforts by other regulators resulted in hundreds of additional messages.”

But here’s the kicker: That angry Minnesota banker who didn’t use his name in the conference call confirmed the comments he made in that call in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. But he asked not to be identified in the article either.

He refused to be identified not once but twice. Why? He was afraid of his own government.

All across this country, business leaders harbor similar fears. They won’t say it on the record, but they’re afraid to challenge or call out publically the bureaucrats who wield tremendous power over their lives, for fear of reprisals.

It’s not just small bankers who are afraid of their own government. Talk to people in the energy business, and ask them about the EPA. Talk to people in the pharmaceutical industry about the FDA. Or talk to the petrified executives in the automobile business, and you’ll get an off-the-record earful about the NHTSA.

Why the cowering?

There are many reasons why CEOs exhibit cowardice under government fire. Much of it has to do with their advisers and corporate governance itself.

For openers, legal departments are not known for courage in a fight. Indeed, lawyers are charged with mitigating risk. They are routinely looking to avert legal or regulatory problems. But what about the risk of not taking risks?

Then there are the public-relations departments. The spin masters argue that fighting regulators will put a target on the back of the company and harm the corporate brand. But what if you’re so busy protecting your brand that you lose an industry?

Then there are the shareholders. Regrettably, what matters most to them is what affects share prices in the next quarter. But what happens if you are so busy protecting your quarterly earnings that there are no earnings left to protect down the road?

Despite advice to the contrary, that Minnesota banker had real options. He could have called up his fellow leaders — and that’s what CEOs are supposed to be, leaders — and rallied them to speak up against the regulatory burdens that are forcing so many of them to sell out their businesses to larger banks.

Talk about a David vs. Goliath story the public would love. They could have gone directly to the American people and explained how the George Baileys of the industry were being squeezed out of business by government bureaucrats and too-big-to-fail multinational banks.

They didn’t.

Those CEOs can blame their lawyers, publicists, shareholders, and even the regulators and bureaucrats for their plight, but in the end, they have only themselves to blame. Because they are paid to lead, not hide behind the advice of their subordinates.

I know. Many people will be saying, “Who’s going to care about a bunch of complaining CEOs?”

Well, the American people, if those CEOs explain that it is the workers of America who suffer when the administrative state wins. When CEOs cower before bureaucrats, they make things worse for all Americans because their cowardice empowers the administrative state to grow larger.

“Courage,” wrote Aristotle 2,300 years ago, “is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others.” Our soldiers exhibit that first of human qualities every day in very tough places like Afghanistan, fighting threats abroad so we can be free at home

Regrettably, courage is in short supply in our nation’s boardrooms, and our freedoms wither away one regulation at a time.

That Marine Corp ad asks the question, “Which way would you run?”

Sadly, too many CEOs would prefer to run away from threats to their business, not towards them.

If the rise of the administrative state continues unabated, we may just lose what is distinctly American about America.

And it will be our nation’s business leaders who are to blame.

— Lee Habeeb is the vice president of content at Salem Radio Network, which syndicates Bill Bennett, Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, and Hugh Hewitt. Mike Leven is president and chief operating officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation and a member of the Job Creators Alliance.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: government; govtabuse; regulation

1 posted on 09/25/2012 5:10:25 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind
There are many reasons why CEOs exhibit cowardice under government fire. Much of it has to do with their advisers and corporate governance itself.

Bullshit. It's fear of having the IRS confiscate everything they own or being shut down by some rogue agency like the EPA.

Whether we believe it or not we have a tyrannical government in control right now. If we continue down the path of letting them get away with stripping our freedoms and confiscating our hard earned money, we will wake up one day under the thumb of a dictator.

2 posted on 09/25/2012 5:20:12 AM PDT by unixfox (Abolish Slavery, Repeal The 16th Amendment!)
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To: SeekAndFind

This attitude has slowly permeated our entire culture. It is a revolution without a shot fired- millions of people have capitulated without even realizing it. It is the default reaction to everything that happens.

We’re watching a life and death struggle for our soul while the president goes on The View rather than focus on being president. He IS the eye candy for a nation unable to see. Some are unwilling to see- but many more are truly UNABLE.

3 posted on 09/25/2012 5:26:22 AM PDT by SE Mom (Proud mom of an Iraq war combat vet)
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To: SeekAndFind

I read 2/3 of the article. I agree with and have experienced the terror of dealing with government bureaucrats.

I roundly and without reservation reject the premise that seems to be suggested that corporate leaders lack courage to confront the government. The banker was being smart to remain anonymous and there is no cowardice at all in his action.

This situation has no comparison to the battlefield. On the battlefield you are ultimately allowed to kill your tormentors even under most confining rules of engagement.

The government has unlimited amounts of your own money, relatively unlimited power and unlimited time to destroy you. Each and every day they can spend all day with all their resources tormenting you while you have a business to run. You have no choice but to attempt to become as invisible as you can as quickly as you can or do all you can to stay invisible. You pray every day that something or someone does not screw up and bring the ton of bricks that is government down on your head.

Compared to the battlefield example of courage the banker was keeping his head down so that he could remain on his strategic mission. No need to engage in a firefight needlessly.

4 posted on 09/25/2012 5:27:28 AM PDT by Sequoyah101 (Half the people are below average, they voted for oblabla.s)
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To: unixfox

Habeeb is a producer for Laura Ingram. Lee is a writer of biographies for hire. Laura can make some good points but I quit listening to her because she is just silly more often than not. Habeeb is part of that and exhibits it in this article.

Both are ignorant of what actually takes place in the world of real business. We are actually attempting to fight a guerilla war in business We are attempting to resist without causing the enemy to wipe out the village in retribution. Same thing happened in German and Jap occupied countries. The company is the village with all the employees, share holders and customers and the government is the Gestapo.

5 posted on 09/25/2012 5:38:30 AM PDT by Sequoyah101 (Half the people are below average, they voted for oblabla.s)
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To: SeekAndFind

“While regulators do play a role in protecting our free-enterprise system ...”

Nice piece of Federal Propaganda...

The safety and security of the nation’s financial resources is “mission critical” as the country’s greatest threats to survival come NOT from 7th century ragheads who wrap their scalps with fanbelts, but from internal malfeasance-originating at the Federal level.

Its not possible, in any way, shape or form to “work with” people in a serious way that treat their employers, We the People, in this fashion.

This article is a distraction from the details they’d prefer you avoid examining.

6 posted on 09/25/2012 6:10:03 AM PDT by mo (If you understand, no explanation is needed. If you don't understand, no explanation is possible.)
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To: SeekAndFind

The manager of my bank has gone off on regular heated diatribes about what the Obama Administration is doing to him behind the curtain.

7 posted on 09/25/2012 6:18:07 AM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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