Bill Maher, the comedian host of HBO's ''Real Time,'' can be both a crazy liberal and a sobering check on political correctness. That counterintuitive combination was in focus once again in his latest monologue last week which called out America's woke crowd for obsessing over Dr. Seuss books, while China is eating our lunch by concentrating on building infrastructure and cornering the market on future hi tech.
As Maher cleverly observed, ''They build a dam, we debate what to name it.''
The irony in Maher's statement, of which he is totally unaware, is that it has been his traditional liberal dogma that has inhibited our nation from getting things done.
In fairness to the host, he was brilliant in refuting the naïve idealistic American youth who virtue signal by brandishing T-shirts emblazoned with the faces of Castro and Che. He astutely noted that they were both part of a communist system that killed hundreds of millions of people around the world.
Yet, the environmentally extreme Maher marveled at how the Chinese were able to construct a 57-story skyscraper in 19 days, while he's been waiting 1,117 to get a simple permit to install a solar panel on his property.
But if Maher really wants to see a change, he will need to cease his knee-jerk criticism of Republicans who seek to rein in outlandish regulations, overly broad environmental laws, and the unbridled power of municipal unions and the trial lawyer lobby, which constitute a core of Maher's preferred party — the Democrats.
Why is it that the Empire State Building could be built in 13 months almost a century ago, while it took New York 13 years to rebuild the World Trade Center at the turn of the new century?
Why does it cost $7 billion to dig a mile long rail tunnel in New York, while the same length of subway in Spain, Italy or South Korea costs less than $250 million per mile?
The disproportionate strength of blue state unions, with their prevailing wages, overtime and inefficient work rules are part of the reason.
Other archaic rules promoted by one of the Democrats' prime benefactors — the trial lawyers — make matters worse. The $3.9 billion replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge in upstate New York was inflated by $200 million alone because of a rule known as the Scaffold Law, which makes employers 100% liable for worker injuries, even if the employee was drunk on the job.
Meanwhile, China ignores even the pretext of environmental concerns via its overreliance on coal, thus cementing its position as the world's greatest polluter. Yet, the Biden administration, which Maher enthusiastically supports, has taken the issue to the opposite extreme by banning energy exploration on 19 million acres of desolate territory in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge region.
Would the Chinese voluntarily hamper their nation's energy production? Not a chance.
Here in the U.S., well-meaning laws such as the Endangered Species Act have been distorted and misused to such a degree that they can stop an important infrastructure plan in its tracks. In one instance, the government told Louisiana landowners that they couldn't develop their property because it was defined as "critical habitat" for a rare frog — even though the frog didn't, and couldn't, live on the land without completely removing existing trees and replacing them with other species.
Liberal states, such as New York, take it even further. According to the Empire Center for Public Policy, the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) ''can be used to force changes to 'mitigate' environmental impacts — not only dictating how a project is built, but effectively deciding whether it gets built at all'' by requiring an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) if the project ''may'' (as opposed to ''shall'') cause a significant adverse environmental impact.
In 2010, Verizon's proposal to build a $4.4 billion data center to employ 200 people in New York's Niagara County was killed due to a single landowner's lawsuit tying up the project using the SEQR process.
Maher would be the first environmental extremist jumping out of his skin upon hearing that legislators might try to scale back SEQR's ability to delay needed infrastructure to the point of cancellation.
Recently in my own Long Island county, Democrats ushered in a new law that will require all purchasers of new homes (or those expanding their homes) to expend an additional $20,000 to install upgraded septic systems, making the ultimate price out of the reach of many middle class people.
We are heading toward a rumble with China, and we're bringing brass knuckles to the brawl, while China is loading up with automatic weapons.
The pandemic might have started in a Chinese province, but it didn't inhibit the Chinese from ensuring their children were back in school continuing to gain a competitive edge over America's children. Meanwhile, Maher's feckless friends in the Democratic Party capitulated to their selfish teacher union bosses, who inflicted permanent damage on our children by locking them out of in-class learning.
So, kudos to Bill Maher for bringing to light the fact that our ''do no harm'' culture has resulted in a ''do no good'' reality. He has astutely identified the problem, but continues to overlook the solution.
A more competitive America will become a reality only if Maher and his left wing cronies stop demonizing those on the right seeking to modify the oppressive and archaic rules and regulations that make the construction of nearly anything of substance cost prohibitive.
Steve Levy is President of Common Sense Strategies, a political consulting firm. He served as Suffolk County Executive, as a NYS Assemblyman, and host of "The Steve Levy Radio Show." He is the author of "Solutions to America's Problems" and "Bias in the Media." www.SteveLevy.info, Twitter @SteveLevyNY, email@example.com. Read Steve Levy's Reports — More Here.
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