A big Hat Tip to Doug Ross@Journal for leading me to this article by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. The article, titled Ten Thousand Commandments 2013, is their annual review of the Federal Regulatory State. Because of its brevity, I’m going reproduce it here with emphasis added by me:
The scope of federal government spending and deficits is sobering. Yet the government’s reach extends well beyond the taxes Washington collects and its deficit spending and borrowing. Federal environmental, safety and health, and economic regulations cost hundreds of billions—perhaps trillions—of dollars every year over and above the costs of the official federal outlays that dominate the policy debate.
Highlights of the report:
• Total costs for Americans to comply with federal regulations reached $1.806 trillion in 2012. For the first time, this amounts to more than half of total federal spending. It is more than the GDPs of Canada or Mexico.
• This is the 20th anniversary of Ten Thousand Commandments. In the 20 years of publication, 81,883 final rules have been issued. That’s more than 3,500 per year or about nine per day.
• The Anti-Democracy Index – the ratio of regulations issued to laws passed by Congress and signed by the president – stood at 29 for 2012. That’s 127 new laws and 3,708 new rules – or a new rule every 2 ½ hours.
• Regulatory costs amount to $14,678 per family – 23 percent of the average household income of $63,685 and 30 percent of the expenditure budget of $49,705 and more than receipts from corporate and personal income taxes combined.
• Combined with $3.53 trillion in federal spending, Washington’s share of the economy now reaches 34.4 percent.
Please take a moment and think about the figures that I put in bold. Every time a new law or regulation is written, the federal government has a little bit more control over our lives. As the power of the federal government grows, the opportunities to abuse that power also increase. And, think about the costs. Think of all these laws and regulations as a huge anchor that the private sector economy has to drag along while it tries to grow.
There is a small favor for which we should be grateful. There are so many laws and regulations that the government can not possibly enforce them all uniformly. Imagine if the government agencies like the IRS, the EPA and, OSHA had enough enforcement agents to make every citizen and business to comply with the letter of every regulation. The economy would come to a screeching halt. And so, the laws and regulations are selectively enforced. And, that in itself is a form of tyranny.
So how did we get in this mess? The short answer is that it is the nature of governments to accumulate more and more power. Even in this very special place we call America with our government Of The People, By The People, and For The People where our founders created a constitutional republic that included specific limitations on the power of the federal government, by its very nature it was destined to grow in power. Think about our two house legislature. We call the people we elect Senators and Congressmen. But, there is another name for them: Lawmakers. And so, for about two hundred and forty years our “Lawmakers” have been making laws and every law gives a little more power to the government. The Executive branch of our government is charged with the responsibility of enforcing the laws passed by the Legislative branch. But, before the Executive branch can enforce the laws of Congress, it, through its bureaucracy, must first write enabling laws and/or regulations before it can carry out the wishes of Congress. And, We The People have been complicit in this growth of government. Every time something bad happens somewhere I cringe when someone invariably reacts by saying THERE OUGHT TO BE A LAW! That’s true, isn’t it?
The insanity in the asylum will just keep getting more insane.
Well. that’s what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?