Perhaps the biggest concern about modern America expressed by Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College in southern Michigan, is the unbounded growth of Big Government. Among the free online courses (register here) offered by Hillsdale College is Constitution 201, which is sub-titled “The Progressive Rejection of the Founding and the Rise of Bureaucratic Despotism.” This sub-title certainly makes its own statement, doesn’t it?
An excellent place to get a sense of the massive size and cost of Federal Government regulations is the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s website. Annually they publish a free downloadable report about the staggering costs of compliance with federal regulations, called Ten Thousand Commandments. Here is a telling graph from the 2012 report:
Question: Who Regulates the Regulators?
Do you ever wonder if there’s anyone in the government bureaucracy whose job is to determine when they’ve enacted enough regulations, so they can stop? Or even better yet, so they can roll some of them back? I think the obvious answer is “no.” It is simply not in the nature of a government bureaucrat to recommend a reduction in the size or power of that very bureaucracy to which he/she belongs. It ain’t gonna happen.
Could it be that “Government of the people, by the people, for the people” is on the verge of perishing from the earth?
Regarding the modern American government bureaucracy: On page 292 of Milton and Rose Friedman’s 1980 book Free To Choose, they wrote:
“Congress set up a Department of Energy … to promote the conservation of energy. It also set up an Environmental Protection Agency … to issue regulations and orders, most of which [result in] the use of more energy. No doubt, within each agency there are sub-groups working at cross-purposes. The situations would be ludicrous if it were not so serious. While many of these effects cancel out, their costs do not. Each program takes money from our pockets that we could use to buy goods and services to meet our separate needs. Each of them uses able, skilled people who could be engaged in productive activities. Each one grinds out rules, regulations, red tape, and forms to fill in, that bedevil us all.”
I found a perfect current example of the incessant growth of government regulatory actions in the Investors Business Daily newspaper laying in our driveway this morning. On the front page of the print edition, above the fold, glared the headline “Pollution Levels Have Plunged, But EPA Plans Costly New Rules,” along with this chart:
Although the online article carries a different headline – “EPA’s Dirty Secret About The Environment” – the article by John Merline is the same as in my print edition, and starts out as follows:
“The Environmental Protection Agency late last month proposed strict new “clean fuel” standards on gasoline. The EPA said the so-called Tier 3 rule would cut emissions of smog-forming pollutants, as well as toxic emissions like benzene.
What the EPA didn’t say was that levels of these pollutants have been falling steadily for years, and would continue to fall even without the new rule, which the oil industry says will cost tens of billions of dollars [raising gas prices by up to 9 cents a gallon].
Indeed, a fact that won’t get much attention on Earth Day — April 22 — is that pollution has been falling across the board for decades, even while the nation’s population and economy have expanded. Overall air pollution levels dropped 62% from 1990 to 2012, while GDP grew 69% and population climbed 26%.”
The short article is an eye opener that I hope you will take 4 minutes to read. It ends with this point about the liberal-biased media establishment:
“The problem is that the EPA rarely celebrates these environmental successes, and even when it does point out gains, the press largely ignores it. When the agency announced, for example, that toxic air emissions dropped 8% in 2011 from the year before, and have been steadily dropping since 1998, only a handful of local papers bothered to report the news.”
Answer: You and I Regulate the Regulators
The fact is that government does not regulate its own regulatory behavior. It isn’t required to, and it is motivated NOT to. Only we, the voters – more specifically, the conservative & libertarian voters – can keep the self-serving Big Government in check. That is, if we’re seeing the situation realistically, and making a determined effort to do something about it together…in sufficient numbers to counteract the leftists who vote the other way.