When Salmon Tread Water

The U.S. Constitution was designed to create a fundamental tension between the legislative and executive branches of the government, a tension whose subtleties President Obama seems neither to understand nor respect. He regularly decides which laws to enforce, according to his whims and ideology. As he nears the finish line, the president’s overreach is sure to continue. Who can forget his arrogant boast, “I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone.” In other words, when the president thinks he knows what’s best for the nation, the separation of powers and the rule of law be damned.

Politics has even intruded on science-based regulation. Abuses of discretion create incentives to bad behavior among individuals and inhibit innovation. Consider, for example, the government’s hands-off attitude towards the illegal “misbranding” of foods by vigilantes—namely, consumers slapping misleading labels on foods on supermarket shelves.

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