American Elephants


Lightening the Burden of Excessive Regulation by The Elephant's Child

President Donald Trump has made a good beginning on the immense burden of excess regulation on the U.S. economy and on us personally. Experts believe the cost is close to $2 trillion a year on the economy. Eager progressives believed that the way to fix everything would be strong regulations from the wise elite in Washington D.C. Well, you and I know that the elite don’t seem to be exceptionally wise, and in many cases are definitely deficient.

There was a better way of regulating, according to Steve Forbes, back in (of all places) the Clinton administration. Regulators should state the goals, and let the industry figure out the best way of achieving them.

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., recently asked the right question in a hearing on improving our infrastructure: “Can performance-based regulations be more effective than command-and-control regulations in achieving safety goals while imposing less of a burden on industry?”

The answer, of course, is yes and there is now a bill before Congress that would codify this common sense approach, The Revamping American Infrastructure Act of 2017. The proposed legislation would call on federal bureaucrats to “identify those regulations, guidance and policies that in current form establish prescriptive requirements for regulated entities; and are able to be replaced, consistent with Federal law, with outcome-based performance standards.”

Thanks to deregulation in 1980, the [freight railroad] industry morphed from an inefficient, loss-ridden system into the finest, most efficient in the world. Nonetheless, the industry is still weighed down unnecessarily by countless, archaic operational mandates. It is ready to deploy new technologies for inspections such as drones, trackside detection systems and sophisticated X-ray machines that would provide crucial information in real time. Yet the industry must abide by a rigid set of procedures established by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) that seems to think the world is still dominated by those legendary steam engines of yore.

Federal regulators wanted to address the problem of accidents caused by human error. To fix it, they wanted to dictate to the railroads the number of of persons  in a crew,  without any data that supported the notion that a second person in the cab would actually reduce the number of human-error accidents. (You remember the goofy regulation that all ingredients,with their calorie count in all pizzas, had to be included in the big sign back of the cash register in all pizza parlors.)

The EPA’s jihad against fossil fuels resulted in their so-called haze rule, supposedly to improve visibility. The rule would have forced the closure of several coal-fired power plants and killed many jobs, with no noticeable improvement in visibility.

Sensible removal of excessive government regulation should be a boon to the economy, and perhaps even reduce the number of government regulators. So far, so good. The Trump administration has made a good start.

 

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