American Elephants


The Top Ten Worst Federal Regulations of 2011 by The Elephant's Child

Seems like everybody takes the week between Christmas and New Years off. Certainly all the talk-radio hosts have substitutes in, columnists efforts turn to lists of the best or worst of the year — whether it’s movies, books, music, scientific ideas or recipes — there will be a list. Which leads one to suspect that the lists are pre-enumerated while the list-maker enjoys a week on the slopes or in the sun.  It’s not as if the world grinds to a halt, stuff still happens, but there’s a sense that things just aren’t back to normal.

The lists are useful, however, to remind you of the follies of the past year. We are so deluged with constant information that it affects our attention spans. Important things happen, but we can hardly give it our full attention before something else happens and the important thing is forgotten as we move on to the next. I don’t think that this is good for us.

One that caught my eye was Heritage’s list of the Top 10 Worst Federal Rules of 2011. Government churns out more than 3.500 rules in a year, dozens of them associated with ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank, or the regulation gushing EPA.  Even careful rules will produce unintended consequences, but 2011 seems to be a bit of a standout in regulatory blunders.

  1. The Dim Bulbs Rule: Did Congress know that jobs created by this bill would all be in China? Did they know about the haz-mat regulations?  Did they understand that the substitute bulbs do not give effective light? Congress inserted a provision that banned the  use of funds to enforce the regulation, but it remains in force.
  2. The ObamaCare Mandate: Lots of court rulings on the individual mandate, the Supreme Court has accepted the case and allotted extra time. Never before ha the federal government attempted to force all Americans to buy a product or a service. Vast regulatory overreach.
  3. Nationalization of Internet Networks Rule: Regulations that took effect Nov. 1,  effectively declared the broadband networks to be government-regulated utilities. The FCC imposed the “network neutrality” rule despite explicit opposition from Congress and a federal court ruling against it.
  4. The Equine Equality Rule: Hotels, restaurants, airlines and the like are required to modify their policies and procedures to accommodate miniature   horses as “service animals” as an alternative to dogs for those who are allergic or observant Muslims.
  5. The Potato Rule: No more than one cup per week of potatoes. (forget french fries) Substitute more dark green, orange and dry bean varieties. The cafeteria mandate will affect more than 98,000 elementary and secondary schools at a cost exceeding $3.4 billion in the next four years, and the kids are revolting.
  6. Power Blackout Rule: See previous post. The EPA regulation will not only raise your power bill, but the industry is warning that blackouts are likely.
  7.  Credit Card Nonsense: Dodd-Frank requires the Fed to regulate the fees that financial institutions can charge retailers for processing credit or debit card purchases.  The loss of revenue — more than $6 billion — is prompting banks to hike fees on other services.
  8. Plumbing Police Rule: Department of Energy is tightening the water efficiency standards on urinals. the Energy Conservation Program for Consumer Products Other Than Automobiles puts toilets, faucets, showers, refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, water heaters, furnaces, dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, ovens, ranges, pool heaters, television sets and anything that Secretary Chu thinks uses too much energy or water or whatever. They will decide how many urinals are required for every facility.  Find that one in the Constitution!
  9. EPA Boiler MACT Rule: Covers emissions from some 200,000 boilers nationwide at an estimated cost of $9,5 billion. These boilers burn assorted fuels to produce steam to generate electricity or produce heat. Vast protests from 21 governors, 100 members of Congress. EPA postponed, but the regulations remain on the books.
  10. Favors for Unions Rule: Government contractors must give first preference in hiring to workers of the company that lost the contract. Tens of thousands of companies affected, compliance costs in tens of millions — ultimately a cost to taxpayers. This ensures that a non-unionized contractor cannot replace a unionized one.
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