Americans believe they are overregulated. That’s why President Obama wrote in early 2011 that his administration’s mission was “to root out regulations that conflict, that are not worth the cost, or that are just plain dumb.”
But the regulations continue to pile up. America’s economic freedom index score is the lowest it’s been since 2000. We live in Superman’s Bizarro World, where Hong Kong ranks #1 in economic freedom and the United States of America — you know, the land of the free — ranks #10.
In a vacuum, the word overregulation doesn’t mean much. If we’re not careful, overregulation will become something we just accept as unchangeable, something to be viewed as a fly-like annoyance. But accepting overregulation would have devastating consequences.
Winston Churchill once said, “If you have 10,000 regulations, you destroy all respect for the law.” He was right: The more regulation creeps into our lives, the more difficult it becomes to separate fact from fiction. In addition, the more burdensome it becomes to operate a business, the more difficult it will be to return America to economic prosperity.
Most regulation, whether at the federal or state level, is an unreasonable intrusion into our right to earn an honest living. Regulation rarely makes us safer, but often nurtures graft and cronyism and leaves us with fewer choices, inferior products and less innovation.
There are thousands of bad regulations on the books.
Uber, a revolutionary and popular mobile application that connects users with luxury vehicles for hire, is constantly fighting state and city regulators for daring to provide competition and low prices. Google’s efforts to develop mass-market driverless cars are constantly being thwarted by overzealous and fearful regulators. A raisin farmer in California is facing at least $650,000 in fines for not complying with a Depression-era regulation that allows the federal government to take a farmer’s raisins without compensating him. Environmental Protection Agency regulations will cause two more coal-fired power plants in Pennsylvania to close in the near future. And Obamacare, with its onerous reporting requirements, constitutes the largest regulatory expansion in recent history. America is in serious, serious trouble.
We can’t accept our current condition as something to complain about only at the work water cooler. We need to get serious about reforming the regulatory state.
At the 1964 Republican National Convention, Ronald Reagan said:
“You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.”
May we all say we “did all that could be done.”
Thomas Grier is the associate general counsel for The Keating Group, Inc., in Phoenix, Arizona. He writes on constitutional law, campaigns and elections, and pro-growth policy. He holds degrees from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and Arizona State University.