Regulating Us to Death

Monday, September 27, 2010

A pair of articles at illustrate in different ways the pervasiveness of the modern regulatory state.

In the first, Ryan Young notes that, according to a recent report, federal regulations alone were costing the U.S. economy $1.75 trillion per year in 2008. State and local regulations cost extra, and all those costs have undoubtedly increased since then. He points to the report (PDF), and quotes the following from it:

The findings in this report indicate that in 2008, U.S. federal government regulations cost an estimated $1.75 trillion, an amount equal to 14 percent of U.S. national income. When combined with U.S. federal tax receipts, which equaled 21 percent of national income in 2008, these two costs of federal government programs in 2008 consumed 35 percent of national income.
The report elaborates that this cost amounts to $15,586 per household, which is more than the $10,500 each household spent on medical care the same year. The report looks also into several aspects of this burden and notes that it is particularly hard on small businesses. This suggests that the government could help private citizens enormously in the realms of medical costs and job creation simply by stepping aside via massive regulatory repeal.

In the second post, Ben Liebermann notes:
Just weeks after taking office, the president announced an accelerated process to create stringent new energy efficiency standards for nearly everything around the house that uses energy. The Department of Energy is well on its way towards accomplishing this goal, boasting of more than 20 such regulations since President Obama came to office.

If past experience is any guide, these regulations will raise the purchase price of appliances — in some cases more than is ever likely to be earned back in the form of energy savings. Worse, several may adversely impact product performance and reliability. There are potentially problematic regulations on the way for virtually every room in the house.
It is a common trope of public awareness campaigns for various difficult-to-detect illnesses that they are "silent killers."

Considering the fact that government protection of individual rights is vital to our lives -- since we must be free to set our own priorities and need to have the products of our own labor at our disposal to do so -- we ought to regard the regulatory state as a "silent killer" of the same order. It's already here, and what most people do know about the problem, they incorrectly regard as normal.

-- CAV


C. August said...

I often imagine the federal government as a malignant metastasizing cancer with black tendrils invading every part of the country, siphoning off the blood supply and life force of all productive individuals, using it to fuel only its own deadly growth.

Gus Van Horn said...

Given the above data (and the maxim, "controls breed controls"), it's a near-perfect analogy.

Amit Ghate said...

Nice post. I think I see an op-ed in here [ hint, hint ;-) ].

Gus Van Horn said...

Thanks, and that's a funny coincidence.