Thank you, Carol. I've kept touch with Carol and the American Property Rights organization for pretty much all of the twenty years. I've spoken to the group twice over that period. And it's always exciting to come back. Carol is truly a pioneer in the work that she has done in this area and it really stretches across all of the United States.
We have a problem in America and most people who will get up and talk to you today and all the meetings you go to will describe the problems. Very few of them are new to you, but few people have really acted on a plan to solve problems and Carol and this organization has really focused all of their efforts on solving problems, battling big government regulations taking away our individual freedoms. I'm going to be doing that, today. I'm going to describe, briefly, the problems that you already know about and them I'm going to describe a plan that involves all of you. You're all going to have a homework assignment when I finish. And if you fail to carry out your homework assignment my plan will fail. So, you're going to listen carefully to what I have to say and you will for a bit maybe be shocked and say, "Well, this can't be done." And I'll tell you that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. This is not the first step. My plan has been moving forward since the ninth of July of this year but you're an important step in the plan.
We all know that we've been losing our individual freedoms and our government has been going downhill for a very long time. We thought when Ronald Reagan came into office that that was the beginning of a new day and it was. But, unfortunately, it was long on rhetoric and short on accomplishments. I have to assume that everybody in this room leans a little bit conservative rather than liberal when you're battling property rights. But when the Republicans took over the Congress in 1994, that was a new day and we thought things would get better. But, again, while they tossed around terms like "individual freedom" and "limited government," not very much happened. Bush got elected and we thought he would move in the right direction. He was a good guy but it was a big government conservatism which is really not conservatism at all.
Of course, we all know the disaster that Mr. Obama has been. I may be insulting a couple of people in the room but let it stand. He will go down in history, I'm sure, a hundred years from now as the worst president that we've ever had, beating out the current leader of the pack, which was Jimmy Carter. I'm sorry to be so wishy-washy about these things.
We defeated, in the last century, Communism and Fascism and we have replaced it by a huge regulatory welfare state. And, as Carol said, I'm going to be talking about environmental issues. And there are a number of things. I am right now, and have really been the last twenty years, the science director of the Heartland Institute. We're a free-market, libertarian think tank. We put out a variety of publications all going freely to elected state officials. Our goal is to try to influence their votes without ever lobbying in any way or pushing a particular piece of legislation. We provide objective technical information in areas of environment, climate, school reform, tax and budget, health care. And in all of your booklets you have a copy of one of our recent publications which is Environment & Climate News and I think you'll enjoy reading it at a later itme. I'm excited that one of the things I do for the Heartland Institute as science director, is I review books and I was reallt delighted to see that Tom DeWeese chose to use my review of his outstanding book in your packet, as well, something I enjoy and Tom will be fabulous later today and his book I cannot recommend it too highly.
I've also put in front of all of you my professional card. The reason is that many of you may want to contact me for an electronic copy of the talk I'm about to give although the talk is written out. Also, enclosed in your packets dealing with a plan to phase out the Environmental Protection Agency. The U.S. EPA you're talking here property rights. The biggest land grab that has ever been attempted to be perpetrated on our nation is occurring as we speak with a new recommendation from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to take control and this may sound funny but it's actually true to take control of every puddle that exists on every farm in America. We used to talk about that as a joke. It is no longer a joke because a new regulation put forth it hasn't come to pass, it hasn't been put into law yet but put forth in the last couple of months by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is to regulate any water in the United States that could ultimately drain into a stream, a river, or creek which EPA already controls. So, they've moved away from the rivers and streams they took control over in the 70's now, literally, to a puddle that occurs only in a heavy rainstorm that could overflow and go into a river or stream which gives the EPA regulatory control over every piece of farmland in America. You're in the business of property rights. This ultimately is the biggest property right issue existing in America today. I think we can defeat it. What is fascinating, everybody here is aware that Obama is using the Environmental Protection Agency to override any legislation override having to go to Congress to do anything. He is using EPA to put forth all of his goals. Interesting at a time when we've now gone seventeen years without a change in the temperature of our planet, he is now considering climate change to be the biggest menace and he's using EPA to perpetrate more and more regulations to destroy American business.
Well, my plan is to destroy the United States Environmental Protection Agency. It's a workable plan. It took me two years to develop in a manner that really leaves no loopholes. It's a five-year phase out. Now, sadly, there is nobody living in this country today who has a better right to develop a plan to phase out U.S. EPA. And I'll explain in detail how. Nobody has a better right to do this than I, because I will stand here and admit there is no one living today actively working that is more responsible for the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency than I am. I am now doing pennance to the rest of my life for the crime that I committed. But as the liberals always say, I had good intentions in doing it. So, I'll go back to the beginning and explain it to you.
In 1968, I was the executive director of a professional society which Carol mentioned in my introduction. I was called to Washington along with five other men who were the heads of other professional societies that related to the environment in some way: water, waste disposal, air, and so on. There were six of us and we formed a kind of a blue-ribbon loose committee that was put together by the Bureau of Water Hygiene that was then part I guess maybe still exists as part of the Department of Health. And the then head of the Department of Health felt that we had many, many environmental problems that were not being addressed by the few regulations that existed. There was a [Federal] Water Pollution Control Act [Clean Water Act]. That was about it. And it passed in 1946, as I recall. And he felt that we needed a strenghened agency not particularly the Bureau of Water Hygiene. We needed to create an environmental protection agency.
Beginning in 1968, the six of us travelled around from one congressional hearing to another congressional hearing both Senate and House testifying on the need for greater environmental regulation. I recall vivdly as Carol mentioned my initial discipline was in ground water hydrology and as I would testify and I testified at thirtysix different congressional hearings over those years and when I talked about ground water frankly there was just no one sitting on a House or Senate panel who knew what ground water was. I mean, the normal consideration would be that ground water was water sitting in a puddle on the ground. They really had no idea. So that our understanding of waste disposal and water and drinking water and so on, it was amazingly inept at that time. There was a need for a safety net of regulations which is what we talked about. Most of the hearings would talk about the need for a particular piece of legislation but in the background of it all we talked about the need for an environmental protection agency. We succeeded after three years and in 1971 President Nixon signed a new piece of legislation creating the Environmental Protection Agency.
It really was a good thing at the time. We were proud of our accomplishments. All this then served on a variety of committees within EPA to create a safety net of laws that would stop all of the contamination, pollution, that was really rampant throughout the country. I live in Ohio and I remember vividly in 1968 when the Cuyahoga River caught fire. Many of you may remember that as well. There was so much oil and gunk floating on the Cuyahoga River outside of Cleveland. Then a spark came off of the wheel of a railroad train that was travelling on a trestle across the river. A spark came off and lit the river on fire and it literally sparked the environmental movement and led to Earth Day. And it was then a good thing. In the next ten years I sat on many, many committees, actually wrote many sections of pieces of six legislations that were passed. The Water Pollution Control Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide, Act, the Surface Mining Control Act, which controls deep mining as well. A half a dozen really outstanding pieces of legislation which created a safety net. More than a safety net. There was an educational process. It's generally my feeling that all the work I've done from the outside of government, the education that occurs of the public and of the Congress in debating a piece of legislation. When you're finished you almost don't need the legislation any more because it's an educational process. There'll always be bad guys. There'll always be an element of people that will want I get around the law that will pollute purposely because there's money in not doing things the right way. I would say that eighty percent of the effectiveness of any of our environmental legislation was achieved by the education of the public to do the right thing. The education of the Congress to understand what needed to be done. So, at the end of the 70's we had seven pieces of legislation that created that safety net. Only one turned out to be a bad piece of legislation and that was passed in 1980. And 1980 was the critical year in which environmental zealots recognized that EPA could be used as a mechanism essentially to enslave the American public to eliminate growth, capitalism, to destroy the economy for reasons I never understood to this day. I don't understand the liberal mind that does not want the bulk of the population to advance and prosper, that wants to hold down progress, that thinks collectivism is a better way. Every time collectivism, Communism, Socialism has been tried in the world in your lifetime and in lifetimes before you it has always failed. They always seem to think that certainly Obama is an example they always think that when they run it, it will work out. We'll probably see this happen when Hillary is elected in two years. She thinks she's smart. She'll make collectivism work. I always like to think that, you know, maybe she'll get some good sense. Of course, we all don't want her to be elected but she's certainly got the inside track. But it's likely we'll be battling the collectivist welfare state for the rest of our lives.
But in 1980 Superfund was the first of the laws that overreached. And it overreached in the following manner. Superfund said that if you disposed of waste in any way in the past that is now causing contamination, you must go back and clean it up. You've got to dig up whatever it was you did and clean your waste and dispose of it in a better way even though it had been legal what you did years past. It was the first bad law and it created havoc for a couple of decades. For the most part whatever damage was done then has been completed. We don't hear much about it. The actual title of Superfund was the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act. That was quite a mouthful. And some clever person just termed it "Superfund" and that's the way it's been referred to ever since. But it was the only one of the laws in that first decade and I can argue that it was really the second decade, it was passed in 1980 that was not a good law. I will then argue that there has not been a single piece of legislation passed in the last thirty-four years that has been of any value to our environment or the health of the public.
The laws that we wrote in the 70's were good then, they're good now. Since then we've strengthened the laws. We've made them more difficult to deal with. No benefit to the environment. No benefit to the public. And during that period of the 70's, the federal government ran everything. They were in charge now of the entire nation's environment. And they needed a significant staff to do that. But in all of the laws it was intended and was carried out that every state develop their own Environmental Protection Agency. And in the ten years of the 70's, every single one of our fifty states did develop an effective intelligent, productive Environmental Protection Agency. And I can always prove how good the state agencies are by saying that there's barely any business in any state that likes their state Environmental Protection Agency. The fact that they think their state agency is overbearing tells us they're at least trying to do a good job to protect the environment.
So, the federal government had to handle everything for that ten-year period as the states came up to speed. And in every law it was stated that when the state was up to speed they could take primary responsibility over the safety net of laws for our drinking water, waste disposal, mining, chemicals, you name it. And by 1980 all the states had done that. They had taken over the responsibility of implementing all of our environmental laws. They're doing it now and they're doing a very good job. So, tell me now why are ther fifteen thousand federal employees in Washington and in ten districts around the United States whose only purpose is to look over the shoulder of the fifty states that are doing all of the work? I can argue we're paying fifteen thousand people to do nothing whatsoever productive. Their budget is 8.2 billion dollars. So, I came up with a plan to reduce the budget from 8.2 billion to two billion and reduce the staff from fifteen thousand to three hundred. I presented this plan initialy in front of six hundred and fifty people at a Heartland conference on climate change on July 9th in Las Vegas. Since then I've done dozens of radio shows, quite a few television shows, including John Stossel inviting me on his show on August 28th to present the plan which I did. Absolutely nobody has found a hole in it. Not one problem with it. And I will describe it to you and we'll get to a certain portion you'll read along with me aghast at what you're going to read.
The only negative that is ever thrown at me by any of the radio or TV people that I dealt with is, "Oh, you can't get rid of a federal agancy. This just can't be done." They don't find anything wrong with the plan, nor will you. It's been tested now with thousands of people. It's workable. Well, we've got to do it. You've done things in this part of the country with property rights. You've won battles. This is a battle we can win. Not in the next year, but I think we will begin to win it after the election coming up in, what, nine days now. I have some good news for you. I'll go out on a limb and say that Harry Reid will not be in charge of the Senate. He'll begin to be gone in nine days. He won't be gone until I guess the 20th of January. What it is I think that they should move him from the head of the Senate immediately into prison but probably we will not be that fortunate. Again, I'm sorry if I've offended some of you here. I think that's the good news that we can count on. But your homrwork after I describe the plan in detail I'm doing well on time I'm going to describe it in detail. You have every word that I'm about to speak in a very nice little four-page handout in your packet and your homework is you're either going to copy this and send it with a note by snail-mail to all of your Congressmen and Senators with a note saying you think this is a good idea, they ought to take a look at it. Or you can contact me by email. You all have my card in front of you and I'll send you the electronic version and you can do it electronically. But the plan is that eventually every single member of the Congress Senators and Congressmen will receive the plan from a constituent multiple constituents saying, you know, take a look at this, I think this can be done. Now, here is the plan.
It's a five-year phase-out of EPA and the immediate establishment of what I call a "Committee of the Whole" of the fifty state environmental agencies. They would establish an office somewhere in the Mid-West to reduce travel from all fifty states into a central location. I favor Topeka, Kansas. It is the geographic center, a nice sleepy little town in Kansas. It could be elsewhere. When I originally presented the plan I was accused of owning real estate in Topeka. If you understand that, I certainly do not. But in any case, we would have a new office. Every state would contribute six people to that office immediately. They would name six people that would be moved to the Committee of the Whole office. The three hundred people from the fifty states would elect a head, a chairman who would serve for a three-year term. Each state would receive from the existing EPA budget of 8.2 billion dollars, each state would receive a twenty million dollar stipend to help pay for the elimination or the replacement of their six people and to beef up the fact that they're now totally in charge without anybody looking over their shoulder. That accounts for one billion of the new budget and the second billion will be the management of the whole program and as I'll tell you in a few moments when we read along together the only agency there are fourteen offices within EPA. Fourteen separate offices, fourteen separate budgets. The only one that would be retained for a while after the fiveyear period would be the research arm. There are half a dozen research laboratories centers around the United States that do decent work. They will not be eliminated until, and if in fact, the Committee of the Whole decides to eliminate them. In the first year of the five years the fifteen thousand employees sitting in Washington and in ten district offices would be informed that U.S. EPA would disappear in five years. That's pretty good. Any of you that have jobs, wouldn't you love to be told that your job won't be eliminated for quite a few tears? I mean, that's pretty nice. Most people get a two-week notice or something like this. In the first year we would not eliminate anything. And here I want you to pull out this little I want you to actually see this pull out this from your packet. It's just a little four-page thing that Carol had beautifully typeset. And I want you to turn to page three. Just open it up and on the third page, inside, I'll wait, you'll see the names of fourteen offices that exist within EPA. I want you to come down to the second and third offices in EPA and tell me who's shocked to read the names of those two offices. Yes?
Audience Member: I didn't know that was there.
Mr. Lehr: Nobody knows it was there. How many people had any clue that there were two offices of Indian Affairs in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency?
Audience Member: That's a new one.
Mr. Lehr: It's a new one on everybody.
Audience Member: All you need to do is go to the graph page, on the star graph, and you see that the welfare state goes to the American Indian class.
Mr. Lehr: Well, we have a bureau of Indian Affairs. Whether you like them or dislike them whether they do a good job or not there's no reason we need two offices in EPA. So, in Year One of the plan, which you will all read, I'm sure before the week is out, we will move those two offices over to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and let them have half of the budget. BIA would be delighted to have these offices. And I'm sure eventually they'll fire half the people because they're redendant of what's being done. Or maybe not. Agencies tend not to let people go. They tend to make an argument for hiring more people. But in the first year that's all we would do would be explain this is a five-year phase-out and we would just move those two offices immediately over to BIA with a portion of their budget. Now, if you look through this list of fourteen offices, you'll ses there's only four that have anything to do, in fact, with the environment. They would be Air and Radiation, Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Solid Waste and Emergency Response, and Water. Those four, kind of in the middle of the list, are the only offices that actually ndeal with the environment. All the rest is just administration overlap of no value at all. They've just made life less pleasant for the fifty agencies. Now, here is the main thing. When you read it you'll see after Year One twenty-five percent of the offices would be moved. The responsibilities of the offices would be moved to the new Committee of the Whole central location in the United States and they would take over their responsibilities and in most, many case, they would just be eliminated because they have no value in terms of environmental protection. I list in the plan by order of less importance how they would be moved from the federal government to the Committee of the Whole.
During this period committees will divide the three hundred people up into subcommittees in, let's say, Topeka, Kansas, who would be in charge of wtaer, emergency response, air, and so on. And they would spend time in the federal office and in the regional offices looking at what people were doing so they're pretty sure when they take over they're not missing anything. And here I have to tell you a true and funny story about reducing a staff.
I have a classmate from Princeton who is a multibillionaire. I know him well and he's made his money by buying companies that were poorly run and improving their entire operation and then selling the company at gigantic gain. Well, one day he told me a story that was fascinating. He bought a company that made railroad locomotives. They had offices in Manhattan, New York City. They owned a couple of floors of a high-rise building and they had eight hundred employees. Their actual headquarters was in Chicago, Illinois, where they had a hundred employees. My friend spent two weeks with a yellow legal pad wandering through the New York office interviewing as many of the eight hundred employees as he could over a two-week period to find out what they did. At the end of the two weeks he called the people in Chicago the headquarters in Chicago and explained that he spent two weeks interviewing these people and he felt they were not very productive and the company could probably eliminate the entire New York office and the eight hundred jobs but he felt this would put a burden on the hundred people in Chicago. So, he asked the head guy in Chicago, he said, "If we close the New York office and we laid off the eight hundred people how many additional employees will you need in Chicago?" There was a pause on the phone. Finally the fellow spoke. He said, "Well, if you eliminate the New York office and the eight hundred employees, we don't need to add more people. I can probably get rid of twenty of ours." Because all they did was oversee the eight hundred people doing nothing. It's a true story. It's a one hundred percent true story. That's the EPA in Washington except multiplied many fold because they're fifteen thousand people doing no productive work other than interferring with the implementation of all of our environmental laws by the states.
All right, here's the key part. You need to understand which is why you're not going to be able to find fault with it. Over this five-year period, hopefully in the first couple of years, the Committee of the Whole, the three hundred members, six from each state, will review every single environmental regulation that exists within the federal EPA. It probably will take five years. And they'll separate all of the regulations into those which have been created by fiat by the agency the kind of stuff Obama tells EPA to do the exactly what this new proposed regulation called the Waters of the United States does. They'll separate everything that was done by fiat from things that are actually written into legislation where the Congress passed a law that says you got to do thus and so. With regard to all of those fiat regulations that we live under that are so oppressive, I think to everybody in the country, I don't think there'll be too many people other than the environmental zealots, you know, the green groups that will battle this plan, I think John Q. Public will support it because most people are effected in a negative way by EPA. They'll look at every one of these fiat laws and decide that there are three options: 1 - This is usless. Does no good for public health or the environment and they'll eliminate it; or 2 - They'll say, "No, this is a good idea." And they'll keep it; or 3 - They will put it under the purview of the states to decide do they want to implement it or not. So, there would be some variance from state to state as to what laws they obey or not. I'll give you an example why that's important. I'm from central Ohio. Our major city is Columbus, Ohio. A few years ago a water pollution control regulation came down that our water supply, our treatment plant in Columbus had to spend ten million dollars to insure that a particular chemical that the EPA decided was not good was eliminated from their water supply. Ten million dollars. Well, this particular chemical we know for sure only occurs in Hawaii. Only occurs in Hawaii. There was never any question about it. It had to do with pineapple growing. And yet, Columbus, Ohio, did have to spend ten million dollars. So, that's why we've got to look at some of these rules and give the states the option of obeying it or not. So, that's option three. Either keep it, get rid of it, or leave it up to the states.
With regard to all the legislative laws that are actually written into law, they would, over the five-year period, review every one of them and they might say, "This is fine." Or they may decide to go to Congress and say, "Congress, you might consider tweaking this law to make it more effective, more useful, or you might consider doing away with it because it has not been useful." So, the three hundred people in Topeka, Kansas, or wherever, will be very busy reviewing all the insanity that has developed in the last thirty-four years since 1980. Over the five-year period, as you'll read, twenty-five percent of the responsibilities, most of which are useless, will be moved to Topeka, immediately eliminated, or they'll carry them out. Everybody will have a minimum, every employee in Washington will have a minimum of two years to find a new job because nobody will be fired the first year. The second year will be twenty-five percent movement, so those responsibilities that are moved, those people will have most of that year. And then in the third year twenty-five percent more. Fourth year twenty-five percent more. And the fifth year would be the end. There would be no one left. Now, my guess is that during this five-year transition many of the useless employees in different offices in EPA will jump ship very early and there will only be a skeleton crew left and that office can be eliminated before it ever has to move. All of this is explained in four pages. It's that simple. As I said, thousands of people have read it now and I've not yet which is amazing to me because I'm not all that smart, though it did take me two years to figure out how to do this. Now, as I come to a close here, and I'll take a few questions, one of the most exciting things about this plan is I think it's a template for getting rid of many other departments of the United States government. [Applause] Thank you, thank you. I appreciate that. I think our Founding Fathers in developing the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, they really had it in mind for the states to do most of everything. Now, it made sense for the federal government to start something up. I grew up thinking there were only three really important things the government does. One was defense. We needed a militray. We needed to protect our shores. I was convinced of that. We don't want state militias and I'm still convinced of that. Up until recent years I've always felt the military was the best run of all our federal agencies. Secondly, I think we needed federal roads. I'm waffling on that. I'm not sure private toll roads couldn't take over but I'm not giving that up quite yet. I think our highway system, much of which President Eisenhower is responsible for, has given us an opportunity in this country of movement that few other countries have. So, I'll leave that with the federal government. The third thing they were responsible for, we know now we don't need anymore, what is that?
Audience Member: The Post Office.
Mr. Lehr: The Post Office. We have no need for a post office. I'm sure everybody in this room who looks at their mail every day just gets excited when you have a real letter. I know I do. I mean, it's all catalogs and requests for money. So, when I get a real letter it really is exciting. And I got a real letter. I do a lot of TV shows. I was on Neil Cavuto's I've done a lot of Neil Cavuto's shows on Fox and one day last May he sent me a letter thanking me for what I did on his show! Well, here I am still talking about it. I mean, that just doesn't happen. So, we do not need a post office anymore. That's fairly obvious, though I imagine we will continue with it. Yes, question?
Audience Member: Even though we don't need a post office, I would ask you when you accomplish this to do HUD next.
Mr. Lehr: Well, HUD would certainly be high on the list. My own personal second choice is the Department of Education. Raise your hand if you've never heard of Common Core. OK. Common Core is a new curriculum I'm going to shock you in a moment it is a new curriculum handed down from the federal government which they think all states should adopt. A new way of teaching first, actually kindergarten through the twelfth grade. The object of it is to dumb down the students so the teachers get higher scores is actually the outcome. But here's what's going to shock you. The development of a curriculum for thirteen grades K through twelve cost the federal government eighteen billion dollars. Don't you think we could all get together this afternoon and write a curriculum and be finished in a week or two?
Audience Member: I think we're all equally qualified to write that curriculum as the people that did it.
Mr. Lehr: Without a doubt. Without a doubt. Consultants that they hired for eighteen billion dollars. So, my second choice would not be HUD. It would be Education. But I'll leave that up to... I think when you read it, you'll see it's a template that we can move many agencies out of Washington, have them run by committees of the whole which I think is what the Congress really intended in the first place. I really think this can happen. And the plan is that by the next presidential election in the next two years with a relatively new Congress it will be six or seven new senators and a dozen new congressmen, but if we get the plan with a personal note from constituents in the hands of every congressman multiple times, I think they're going to have to look at it and say, "You know, why not save 6.2 billion dollars? Why not eliminate fifteen thousand useless jobs?" And they really are all useless. I think it will be a template. My first choice is Education. Second is Energy. Energy has done zero nothing but I'm not sure we can do a committee of the whole because not every state has an energy organization. But all Energy has done is supply money to cronies for green energy half of which have gone bankrupt. You all know that story. All right. Questions?
Audience Member: I have two questions. Number one: How do you deal with the uniformity question? OK. Where you have states then that are vying for investment you're going to have laws in different states. They're going to drive multi-national companies crazy and they're not going to exactly agree with you because, in fact, that they don't want to have to meet fifty different laws. Then you have competition. Every state is going to seek investment and then you're going to have...
Mr. Lehr: No, I handle that. I mean, I already did handle that. The Committee of the Whole will decide which laws must oh by a two-thirds majority, that's written in there, a two-thirds majority of the Committee of the Whole will require a law to be across the board, even. It will only be a handful of things where the state can make a choice and, hopefully, those things will not create the problem that you've raised. I mean, you're absolutely right. We need uniformity in things that are important but I think they're minor things that it doesn't matter that much.
Audience Member: The second question. You have an international office and you see that federalism is changing both domestically and it's changing local. So, you've got Europeans are out there. b Europeans are ten to one bureaucrats to our bureaucrats. You go to any of the international venues, they're there. Everywhere. They create jobs just so they can be there. You don't have enough people to deal with them and push back because a lot of the stuff that's out there is coming in. So, how do you prevent the incursion?
Mr. Lehr: I don't see an incursion. I'm in the middle of writing a paper, now. The European Union is history. I predicted they'd be gone by now. It was a terrible idea. The Euro was a bad idea. That's a complicated story. I predicted it'd be gone by now. I was absolutely wrong. They just built a bigger house of cards. But Europe is history. And their impact on us, in the paper I'm writing comparing our economy, which is far better than anyone imagines, to that of China, Russia, is a basket case and the European Union points out the our dependence on Europe is very small. If the European Union goes down which it has to, eventually, the impact on our economy will be about ten percent. I mean, we'll take a hit. There's no question we'll take a hit, but it will be relatively small and we'll survive. Proof of that is, you know, that our economy and the stock market has survived hit after hit after hit for the last year. With all the wars going on, all the things going on, we're managing fairly well. The problem you cite does exist and I'm not disagreeing at all. I'm just saying because of Europe and you're right ten bureaucrats to our one we'll survive that problem. I don't have a detailed explanation to solve it but it's good you raised it. Yes?
Audience Member: There's a parallel interest that this has already happened in. Namely, the deregulation of trucking. It used to be done on the federal level. Now, the feds give out the rules. I'm not saying this is right or wrong but this is the world I live in. The feds set the regulations and the state level enforces it. And so far it's worked pretty good.
Mr. Lehr: Well, that's kind of what EPA does now, except they have fifteen thousand overseers. The federal government states the laws and it's up to the states to implement.
Audience Member: They kind of came around in a circle, in a way, because the local police cannot know every single law that just regulates trucking. But the guy on the creeper underneath, he tells the officer what to right up if there's a wrong and then they do that.
Mr. Lehr: Well, I follow the trucking industry a limited amount but I'll take a look at that further. I appreciate your bringing... Yes?
Audience Member: I have a couple of comments. Number one: on your roads the federal government on the roads, I would like add a little bit just give me a little thank you as the superhighway which is still being implemented but in pieces. If we took the feds out of that maybe we would...
Mr. Lehr: I agree. I'm ambivalent on the roads because
there's toll roads being built everywhere by private industry
and they seem to be working out OK, so, I would agree. Well, I
think Carol is indicating that my time is up. I'll be here absolutely
all day and I'm so excited about hearing the rest of the speakers
and chatting with all of you. Thank you.