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OPINION

Becoming 'A Country I Do Not Recognize'

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Susan Walsh

If there is one overriding theme of the Biden years, it is the systematic degradation of American freedom, pushing the lives and freedom of private citizens aside as government expands and takes over.

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This is done under the rubric of the left that "government knows best."

Day by day, we are becoming what the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia described as "a country I do not recognize."

In a new paper published by the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, Casey Mulligan, professor of economics at the University of Chicago and former chief economist of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, estimates the current and future costs of new regulations imposed so far by the Biden administration as close to $10,000 per household.

Per Mulligan, although the largest single area of new regulatory costs come from fuel economy and emission standards, they still only account for one-third of the total costs. The rest come from "health, labor, telecommunications and consumer finance regulations."

In a paper published last year by Mulligan with Stephen Moore, they estimated that Biden administration policies, driven by climate change dogma, to shut down the oil and gas industry have resulted in 2 to 3 million barrels per day less of oil production and 20 to 25 billion cubic feet of less natural gas production had these policies not been in place.

Mulligan and Moore estimate the cost of this foregone energy production to the U.S. economy is on the order of $100 billion per year.

Now we have the latest move by the Biden administration to remove millions of acres of land in Alaska from oil and gas drilling and development.

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This includes blocking nearly half of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, the largest expanse of public land in the country, and canceling seven leases issued during the Trump administration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

These moves may leave President Joe Biden's climate change dogmatists happy, but less so Americans who care what they pay for energy.

Alaska's Sen. Dan Sullivan and Wyoming's Rep. Harriet Hageman have introduced the Energy Poverty Prevention and Accountability Act that requires cost-benefit evaluation from federal agencies on energy-related policies that assesses the impact of policies on affordability of energy on Americans, particularly at-risk communities.

There is no question about the impact on the cost of living of all Americans as the Biden administration tilts at climate change windmills.

Oil prices and gasoline prices are now at 12-month highs.

Biden climate/energy policies have also found their way into the current auto strike.

Despite the United Auto Workers being a traditional stalwart supporter of the Democratic Party, so far UAW president Shawn Fain has not endorsed Biden.

One of the issues is government mandates on automakers to move to electric vehicles. Estimates are that production of EVs requires about 30% less labor. Therefore, these mandates threaten long-term economic security of auto workers.

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The likely solution will not be backing off these mandates but subsidies and mandates to support union jobs in EV production.

This means even more government. More government controlling our economy, more government controlling our lives.

It is all a kind of backdoor socialism. But rather than increasing government control coming from some abstract ideology, we get the same result from belief that "government knows best." The result is armies of government bureaucrat micromanagers controlling our lives.

Let's recall our own Declaration of Independence, which states our founding based on individual rights -- life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness -- and "that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men ... that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it."

It is time for Americans to act to restore our free nation while we have a few breaths of freedom left.

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