American Elephants

Eighty Thousand Pages of Over-Regulation In 2013! by The Elephant's Child


Senator Mike Lee ( R-UT) tweeted a picture of the 2013 Federal Register: 80,000 pages of new regulations.  That translates into nearly 158 million new paperwork hours for Americans and American business, time that could have been used productively instead of complying with bureaucratic busywork. Nearly $500 billion in new costs forced on businesses. Yet President Obama and the Democrats insist that over-regulation is not a problem.

In 1979, Senator Eugene McCarthy (D-MI) observed, “The only thing that saves us from bureaucracy is inefficiency. An efficient bureaucracy is the greatest threat to liberty.” That was when the Code of Federal Regulations contained about 30,000 rules. Today, the federal government has more than 180,000 rules. Yet when there are not many new jobs, when businesses don’t seem to be hiring much and when the economy still is not growing, it’s always “unexpectedly.”

Call it “Soft Tyranny.” Are Americans so increasingly unruly that we need so much more regulation?

Today, more than Tocqueville could have imagined, soft tyranny takes the form of a federal government that directs almost a quarter of the economy through its spending with 137,000 well-trained and highly educated regulators writing tens of thousands of pages of rules every year funded by a complex tax system that takes 14,000 pages to administer.

This regime of “small complicated rules” has been made possible by information technology. An efficient bureaucracy has arrived.

Since 1960 American productivity has increased 208%, meaning that each worker produces $3.08 in real goods and services today for every $1 produced then. Productivity has not bypassed the bureaucracy.

We don’t think much about regulation until we come directly up against it. Think lightbulb ban, ObamaCare, higher cost of energy, plastic grocery bag ban, without even venturing on the possibility of adding a room to your house, a bridge over a stream or — starting a small business. Bureaucrats prove their worth by churning out regulations. Congress is obsessed with the “do something disease.”

The 10 states with the least regulation, led by Texas and South Dakota generated an average of 22.4% growth in real private GDP from 2002 to 2012. The 10 states mired in the most soft tyranny, led by New  York and California, averaged only 13.7% growth in the same 10 years.

Congress must take back the enormous grants of power that they have allotted for convenience to the unelected professionals of the administrative state. They neeed to take direct responsibility for the regulation they impose on us, and all too often avoid applying it to themselves.


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