Virginity, Failed Marriages and an Almost Perfect Government


How many people marry the first person they ever kiss or date or even have sex with? Not that many. The average age an American loses their virginity is 17 while the average age they get married is 27. Nonetheless, despite a decade in the dating pool, experiencing everything from one night stands to years of living with someone, when people finally take the plunge, half of all US marriages end up in divorce.

There are lots of things that one might take from that observation, but the thing that is most compelling is that despite their best efforts, people are not perfect. They make mistakes. After spending the first 10 years of their adult lives trying to get it right for what is arguably the most important decision of their lives, half the population still gets it wrong and asks for a “do over”. Despite all efforts to make a good decision, half the time we get it wrong. And that’s with everyone involved seeking a common goal!

So the question is: If American adults, with everyone involved seeking to do what’s best, get it wrong half the time, how does our government, with its myriad players promoting conflicting and even mutually exclusive positions, get things right almost all the time?

They don’t, but with the lack of “Do overs” we get with laws and regulations, you’d think they did.  In reality government fails at almost everything they try, but somehow they almost never step back and reevaluate.  Which makes what we’re watching with the debate around the reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which expires at the end of the year, so compelling.  Enacted in 2008, Section 702 allows the government to collect — without a warrant — emails, text messages and phone calls of foreigners overseas, even when they’re talking to Americans.

Many in the GOP suggest it should not be reauthorized or should be neutered as they argue the Justice Department has used it as a fig leaf from behind which they could spy on Americans.  The GOP’s right, but that’s not the point.

Whatever the outcome, this is one of the few times in history that Congress – or anyone else for that matter – gets an opportunity to evaluate the efficacy of a piece of legislation and adjust accordingly.  That’s because most laws go on the books and never come off… regardless of how successful they actually are, or more likely, not.

Take ethanol mandates… the poster child for zombie government programs that never die – regardless of the damage they do. Since the Carter administration the government has been diverting tax dollars to put ethanol into your gas tank. Initially it was intended to be a tool to help America become energy independent in the face of OPEC embargos, it then morphed into a tool to help increase gas mileage and later it became a critical element in fighting “climate change”. Now it doesn’t even do any of those dubious but theoretically positive, things. It’s simply become another failed government wealth transfer program.

Ethanol is an industry that enjoys no natural market. The only reason the ethanol market exists is because of government mandates. And who are the beneficiaries of this corporate welfare that is funded out of your pocket? You?  Of course not.  No, it’s mainly members of the farm / finance / producers cabal in the form of the Renewable Fuels Association. This ethanol boondoggle translated into a $41 billion industry in 2021 and is expected to grow to $124 billion by 2030, money that comes out of your pocket and could be spent elsewhere if it were not being, literally, set on fire.

The worst part of the entire ethanol fiasco is the fact that not only does it not achieve any of its stated – and oft changing – objectives; it actually causes a wide array of unintended consequences – none of which are good. Number one is the fact that it drives up the cost of one of the most important foodstuffs in the world, corn, the price for which has more than doubled over the last 20 years. That in turn drives up the price of virtually every other thing in the economy, from food to transportation to plastics. Then there’s the fact that ethanol damages engines and that the patchwork of ethanol standards across the country causes unnecessary price spikes and shortages. And if all of that weren’t enough, ethanol drives deforestation around the world and it starves third world populations and harms the environment too!

But of course there are many other programs that simply fail, yet never go away.  At the top of the list are the many programs of the War on Poverty.  These various programs did nothing to solve the actual problem of poverty, but did generate more than $30 trillion of government spending over a half century and empowered an army of government bureaucrats while redistributing wealth to countless dysfunctional or fraudulent NGOs.

Then there’s the plethora of other “green energy” programs besides ethanol that fail year in and year out but somehow the Department of Energy continues to fund them.  There’s Jimmy Carter’s Department of Education which has been an abysmal failure. Despite spending tens of billions of dollars annually, American student test scores have barely budged since the department was created in 1980, have been stagnant on the world stage for decades all while the  DOE focuses on resource guides for LGBTQI+ students. And we can’t forget the Border Patrol, which ostensibly exists to protect the nation’s borders but today functions more as a collection of crossing guards for the millions of illegals who walk into the country every year.

If there seems to be a theme here, there is.  The more government tries to do, the more it fails.  And not only fails, but usually makes matters worse. And here’s what makes the 702 debate so potentially intriguing, the potential for Congress to actually do its job, to evaluate how effectively the Executive Branch is spending the money it allocates, uses the power it gives them and at the end of the day, achieves the goals it lays out.

A MAGA led Congress in 2025 should apply 702’s lessons and across the federal government.  They should propose a Constitutional Amendment that states that all federal laws have an implicit sunset provision of 10 years unless it passes each house of Congress by at least 60%. It would also stipulate that all federal regulations would sunset after 10 years, regardless of the margin of passage of the underlying law. The effect of this Amendment would be a greatly diminished the number of zombie like federal regulations that never die, regardless of their cost, efficacy or unintended consequences. Each sub 60% law would have to be re-authorized each decade.

The most obvious impact of this change would be that politicians and bureaucrats would no longer be able to spin yarns about milk and honey without any accountability. (Which is why this idea will likely never see the light of day…) At the time of reconsideration, each sub 60% bill (or every regulation) would have a decade’s worth of hard data to analyze, making it far more difficult to hoodwink the public with rosy scenarios that have no basis in reality. The beauty of this proposal is that it would force legislators and regulators to defend a law’s actual results rather than opine on its promised virtues. Given that most government programs cost more than projected, rarely work as promised, and often have significant unintended consequences, a decade should be a long enough time to inflict any law or regulation on the country and her citizens.

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If you want to get rid of something like 702 or revise it to something useful would be to use it against Democrats. Spy on them and make public the findings. Then they’d join some Republicans to protect the citizens from it.

The only reason I can think of why ethanol is such a stubborn issue is that Iowa is “first in the nation,” in our political primaries.
Politicians will always make big promises to the place where their snowball can start rolling.