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RUSH: I had a great night last night. My friend, Professor Hazlett, was in town. He came by, watched a little bit of the radio program yesterday. He was dazzled. He was fascinated. He said to me last night, ‘You’ve really come far from that little shack that you call a house in South Natomas,’ which is Sacramento. He said, ‘You did it. You did it without ever going to college. You’re almost as smart as I am.’ And I said, ‘Well, I appreciate that, Professor.’ (laughing) His Windows machine froze on him. He couldn’t start it, it wouldn’t open up. He asked me, ‘Do you know anything about Windows machines?’ And I said, ‘(blowing a raspberry), are you kidding?’ I looked at his machine, a tiny little thing. I said, ‘That thing looks like it just came back from Iraq. How old is it?’ He said, ‘It’s three years. I love it because it travels well, it’s very small.’ So I put him on the phone with Brian because Brian is a big Windows guy. Brian was no help. He wanted to get off the phone fast because he’s setting up his new high-definition TV. I heard him on the phone here with the professor going through the motions, ‘I don’t know what that is, call somebody else.’ So we called Scott Schaefer, who is our IT guy here, and he said, ‘Well, we’re not going to get it fixed tonight, Professor, I’ll probably be able to fix it for you, but not tonight.’

So I said, ‘Professor, you want to use my laptop? I got a 17-inch MacBook Pro.’ He said, ‘Sure.’ I said, ‘You know how to use Mac?’ He said, ‘No, but I’ll figure it out.’ So I fired it up, put it in front of him on the conference table in my library, and I’ve never seen a Windows user so quickly adapt to a Mac in my life. He was sailing on that thing with inside of ten minutes, trying to open my checkbook, trying to read my e-mails. (laughing) He even tried to steal the thing, he said, ‘Can I take this with me?’ (laughing) I said, ‘No, Professor, I need it. Besides, it’s too big for you on an airplane. You need a smaller version. We’ll get you a smaller one.’ But during our conversation last night, he said, ‘I’m glad you’re focusing on this gradual individual loss of liberty stuff.’ He’s an economist, but he does a lot of testifying before government commissions on things in opposition to regulators and other things, a brilliant free-market economist. And he said, ‘Do you remember the story earlier this year that was in the New York Times about the Endangered Species Act and how it ends up killing animals?’ And I said, ‘No, I didn’t see it.’

So we searched and we found the story and it’s fascinating, and it is a great illustration of the dynamics of regulation and how, when the federal government, the do-gooders and the environmentalist wackos and whoever they are, the leftists try to impose a restraint on freedom, how people get around it. This is January 20th in the New York Times. Unintended Consequences is the title of the story, and it’s by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt: The Case of the red-cockaded woodpecker. Do you know what a red-cockaded woodpecker is? We had red-cockaded woodpeckers on our property when I was growing up in Missouri. They sit there and they just pound themselves silly on the trees.

Here, get this. ‘Consider the Endangered Species Act (E.S.A.) of 1973, which protects flora and fauna as well as their physical habitats. The economists Dean Lueck and Jeffrey Michael wanted to gauge the E.S.A.’s effect on the red-cockaded woodpecker, a protected bird that nests in old-growth pine trees in eastern North Carolina. By examining the timber harvest activity of more than 1,000 privately owned forest plots, Lueck and Michael found a clear pattern: when a landowner felt that his property was turning into the sort of habitat that might attract a nesting pair of woodpeckers, he rushed in to cut down the trees,’ to keep the woodpeckers out so that he would not come under the auspices of the Endangered Species Act and in which case the woodpeckers might die or have to go somewhere else, where another landowner spots ’em and says, ‘Uh-oh, I gotta get rid of you guys before the feds show up.’ So he cuts down his trees even if they’re not ready to be cut down or even if he’s going to take a loss doing it. It’s a short-term loss versus permanent loss of the use of his property.

In some cases, property owners have been known to actually kill an endangered species they see on their property to get rid of it so that the feds won’t see it and put their land off limits to their own use. Isn’t this exactly what happens with tax cuts? Isn’t this exactly what happens with any number of regulations? Okay, so you’ve got some landowners here, and they got the fed government and the Endangered Species Act, and they know if these species are spotted, they’re cooked. They can’t use their land anymore, ’cause the red-cockaded woodpecker in this case may live on it. ‘One notable wrinkle of the E.S.A. is that a species is often declared endangered months or even years before its ‘critical habitats’ are officially designated. This allows time for developers, environmentalists and everyone in between to have their say at public hearings. What happens during that lag time? In a new working paper that examines the plight of the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl, the economists John List, Michael Margolis and Daniel Osgood found that landowners near Tucson rushed to clear their property for development rather than risk having it declared a safe haven for the owl. The economists make the argument for ‘the distinct possibility that the Endangered Species Act is actually endangering, rather than protecting, species.” Exactly right, folks!

Everything liberals do has the unintended consequence of harming what they intend to protect or to help. The New York Times concludes with this: ‘So does this mean that every law designed to help endangered animals, poor people and the disabled is bound to fail? Of course not. But with a government that is regularly begged for relief — these days, from mortgage woes, health-care costs and tax burdens — and with every presidential hopeful making daily promises to address these woes, it might be worth encouraging the winning candidate to think twice (or even 8 or 10 times) before rushing off to do good. Because if there is any law more powerful than the ones constructed in a place like Washington, it is the law of unintended consequences.’ Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt, the authors of this story are authors of the book Freakonomics.

There’s also a story, the very first story in this article that they have written is about a deaf babe who injures her knee and has to go to the doctor, an orthopedist, to be treated. However, she’s deaf, so she has somebody call the orthopedist and say, ‘Look, I gotta come in for an exam, but I’m deaf, can you deal with me?’ The orthopedist says, ‘Sure, sure, come on in.’ The woman comes in and says, ‘I demand a sign language interpreter.’ The orthopedist says, ‘Fine, if you want to bring one in, you pay for it.’ The patient says, ‘No, no, no, no, the Americans with Disabilities Act says that you have to pay for it for me.’ And this guy couldn’t believe it. So he looked it up and he found out that she was exactly right. He researched the law and found that he was indeed obliged to do as the patient asked. Unless, that is, he wanted to invite a lawsuit that he would probably lose. Now, if he ultimately operated on the woman’s knee, the orthopedist would be paid roughly $1,200, but he would also then need to see her for eight follow-up visits with the interpreter at $240 bucks each time.

So by the end of the patient’s treatment, the orthopedist would be solidly in the red. I mean, you run the numbers, eight times $240, 2,000 bucks, and the surgery, he will be paid $1,200 for, he’s out $800, not to mention the pre-exam before the surgery. So he spread the word to other orthopedists, ‘If you get deaf people calling you, don’t take ’em.’ See how it works? So the intended consequence here of the Americans with Disabilities Act is to get them treated fairly. Then they write the law so that it punishes the caregiver, it punishes the doctor. All it takes is one doctor to find out what’s going to happen to him and the word spreads, somebody deaf calls you and wants an exam, you just know what’s happening. So more and more doctors are not going to see these people. (interruption) What do you mean, Snerdley? How the hell they gonna get treatment? Well, I don’t know. Beats me. It’s a problem. It turns out the woman didn’t need surgery in this case, physical therapy would help the problem. But then, for physical therapy needs a sign language interpreter there for someone to tell them what to do in the therapy.

Finally, this. This is from Seattle. The website is mynorthwest.com: ‘A couple on Queen Anne — Wendy and Peter Lagozzino — have lived and gardened on Queen Anne –‘ maybe it’s an island. I don’t know what it is. Pardon me for those of you in the Northwest. What is it, Snerdley? Big road? Main road, okay. Snerdley, who lived there and hated it, has told me that Queen Anne is a major artery, big road. Okay, thank you for that. ‘A couple on Queen Anne — Wendy and Peter Lagozzino — have lived and gardened on Queen Anne for 36 years. They have a beautiful garden on their parking strip.’ Is that what they call driveways in Seattle? ‘They have a beautiful garden on their parking strip. Now they have gotten a letter from the city complete with digital photos that a city employee took telling them since their flowers hang over the sidewalk, they are facing a $650 fine. That it presents some kind of ‘hazard’. Phil went up to their house yesterday and took photos of their ‘hazard’.’ We’ll link to this at RushLimbaugh.com. There’s no hazard here. There literally is no hazard. This is just classic. This is happening to us here in Palm Beach with our turtle lights. It’s happening everywhere. I know I promised I wouldn’t make any of this personal, because I’ve told you all about the turtle light business, I don’t need to bleed on you any more about this. I do have more details, but I’m holding back.

One more here. Columbia, South Carolina. ‘When Rock Hill school officials tell commencement crowds to hold their applause until the end, they mean it. Seven people at Fort Mill High School’s graduation were charged with disorderly conduct after they were accused of loud cheering during the ceremonies.’ Home of the brave, land of the free? ‘Six people at Fort Mill High School’s graduation were charged Saturday and a seventh at the graduation for York Comprehensive High School was charged Friday with disorderly conduct, authorities said. Police said the seven yelled after students’ names were called. ‘I just thought they were going to escort me out,’ Jonathan Orr told The Herald of Rock Hill. ‘I had no idea they were going to put handcuffs on me and take me to jail.’ Orr, 21, spent two hours in jail after he was arrested when he yelled for his cousin at York’s commencement at the Winthrop University Coliseum. Rock Hill police began patrolling commencements several years ago at the request of school districts who complained of increasing disruption. Those attending graduations are told they can be prosecuted for bad behavior and letters are sent home with students, said Rock Hill police spokesman Lt. Jerry Waldrop.’

I wonder what pep rallies are like. Do you believe this? Carted off in handcuffs for cheering at a commencement? It goes on your permanent record. You cheered at a commencement. That might harm your job search. Graduation police, flower police in Seattle, Endangered Species Act, resulting in dead animals and trees.

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