Regulatory Growth is out of control and can encroach on our freedoms

Friday, January 24, 2014
posted by elizabeth @ 5:09 PM

The Giver, a coming of age novel by Lois Lowry, follows a 12 year boy through his seemingly perfect society.   The story takes place in a world created to make everyone perfectly safe, fed, educated, and parented.  To accomplish this utopia, we learn that society has given up their ability to make choices.   Since a bad choice may lead to hurt, confusion, pain, or unhappiness, choices were simply eliminated.   Not wanting to spoil the book for you (which I recommend), let’s just say, the world in which they live lacks a great deal of, well, life.  People go through the motions of gray, somber lives, no longer have the capacity to see what they are missing.  Not only are their lives mechanized, but the society has fallen into a lack of ethical understanding, not even seeing the brutality of their actions. 

For me, the book was a great reminder that our country may be headed down a similar path.   I’m not suggesting that our government is taking away all of our choices, not right away at least.  But each law, executive order, and regulation that is added to our books chips away at the freedom to make our own choices and have our economy flourish. 

From 1949 to 2005, federal regulations grew by 600%, slowing the economy down by about 2% each year.  That means our standard of living today is considerably lower than it could have been if we were not dominated by regulatory chains.  Plainly, regulations slow the economy. Furthermore, that huge 600% increase doesn’t include the explosive growth of regulations under both Bush and Obama. (Competitive Enterprise Institute).  Your standard of living is lower today than it could have been, should have been.    

Regulations affect every part of your life.   Yes, there are the big ticket items that pound corporations, but minor items add up as well.   Thinking of putting new windows in your home?  You must pay for tempered glass on the bottom half.  For safety.  And for a cost.  If it is my home, it should be my choice.  Think you are going to the store today to buy light bulbs?  Make sure you stock up on incandescent ones.  40 and 60 watt incandescent, “old fashioned” bulbs are now illegal to manufacture in the United States.   Would you like to sell your homemade jellies or birthday cakes?   There are restrictions on that.  Have a burglar alarm?   You must have a permit registering you with the city.    And, your puppy must be registered, too.

There are the biggies like Dodd-Frank and the Affordable Care Act.   The amount of regulation on businesses, and individuals, thanks to Obamacare, is mind numbing.   We have federal and state programs and regulations for everything.  As I write this, our country is currently debating the management of farmers in the Farm Bill.  Each and every government program determines our behavior a little more. 

In 1995, the Index of Economic Freedom (jointly managed by the Wall Street Journal and Heritage Foundation) was created to track and rank the economic successes of 185 countries.   In 1995, the U.S. was ranked #5 at the “free” level.  Now (2014’s Index), we are ranked at #12 under “mostly free.”  We have been on a downward slide since 2006.  I’m disappointed to hear that. 

Currently, the Code of Federal Regulations houses 174,545 pages of regulations, that is an increase of 21% in the last ten years alone (NFIB).  And, those numbers don’t include state and city regulations.  This trend is crazy ridiculous and not the world I want my children to inherit.  I want them to have the choice to make their decisions free from government intervention.  I want them to pursue their dreams by working hard and making responsible decisions.  I want them to know that the government’s job is not to take care of its people, but to ensure a country where opportunity, the economy, and a safe society continue to thrive so that we can take care of ourselves.  I don’t want my children to grow up in a country where the government took away choices because they thought they knew best and the people were too passive to care.      

-Elizabeth Biar

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