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Putting an End to the Regulatory Industry

Friday, November 18, 2016 5:51
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Putting an End to the Regulatory Industry

by MN Gordon, Economic Prism

Gross Regulatory Overburden

Corporate life in America these days is fraught with tedium.  First the MBAs imposed their silly six sigma processes and reduced workers to mere widgets.  Then the regulators went through and squashed out any fun that remained. 

Gone are the days when shrewd eccentrics could get rich using technobabble to hawk the Turbo Encabulator.  Alas, there are rules and regulations stymieing all creativity.  In fact, as a matter of law, such restrictions are shoved in the worker’s face each morning as they fill up their morning cup of coffee.

By our rough calculation the break room metric currently indicates an economy that’s grossly overburdened by regulation.  The break room metric, if you’ve never heard of it, is the ratio of wall space in office break rooms that is utilized by mandatory federal and state regulatory postings.  Anything above 10 percent utilization represents gross regulatory overburden.

No doubt, office break rooms across America are nearly out of wall space.  Mandatory OSHA postings fill the voids.  Other postings include: Industrial Relations, Fair Labor Standard Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, Equal Opportunity, Anti-Discrimination and Harassment, Safety and Health Relations, and many, many more.

For example, requisite Employee Rights, under something called the National Labor Relations Act, are wallpapered up to inform workers of their right to organize a union.  For whatever reason, the massive poster specifies: “This is an official Government Notice and must not be defaced by anyone.” 

On top of that, there are a variety of whistleblower reporting hotlines posted that tell one how to safely rat out their employer for fraud, waste and abuse and human trafficking, among other things.

A Giant Money Suck

In 2016 alone, 81,640 pages of rules and regulations were written into the Federal Register.  Presumably, each one of these rules and regulations has a useful purpose and intent.  Why else would they come into existence? 

But the truth is most of them are far from useful.  For instance, the paper they’re written on could be better used as bird cage liner.  Plus, over time, they’ll metastasize into a bloated mass like all prior laws have.

Remember, laws and regulations also generally come with a unique department or agency to enforce them.  These agencies are staffed with government workers.  What it is exactly these government workers do all day is unclear.

We suppose they show up to work, send emails, process paper work, update compliance files, and prepare monthly and quarterly reports.  Some of them even enter data into spreadsheets and query out pie graphs for powerpoint presentations.  All of them count down the days until their government funded retirements kick in.

As far as we can tell, regulatory agency staffers don’t contribute to the productive economy.  Rather, they subtract from it.  They slurp and suck money into a giant toilet bowl vortex and flush it down the drain.  Then they do it again.

This being the case, what would happen if some of these laws, and the corresponding government jobs they represent, were disappeared?  Would anyone care?  Would everything run amok?

Putting an End to the Regulation Industry

Of course, according to regulators everything would fall into disorder.  Moreover, eliminating these laws would also affect the regulator’s happiness and purpose in life.  They’ve even said so:

“I think that’s really where the thrill comes from.  And it is a thrill; it’s a high … I was born to regulate.  I don’t know why, but that’s very true.  So long as I am regulating, I’m happy.” – Marthe Kent, OSHA safety standards program director, National Review, June 26, 2000.

Indeed, one of the more promising prospects of a Trump Presidency is the wholesale dismantling of federal regulations.  Several months ago Trump said, “The regulation industry is one business I will absolutely put to an end on day one.”

And just last month Trump said, “70 percent of regulations can go.”  This sounds about right, wouldn’t you say?  But where to begin…

The Hill recently identified 14 regulations Trump should set his sights on.  These include the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the United States rule, parts of Dodd-Frank, the Department of Labor’s “overtime rule,” Obamacare, and others.

We can’t wait.  Completing regulatory forms and documentation is the work of ultimate boredom.  Besides, in addition to being a complete money suck, regulatory compliance takes all the fun out of doing good, profitable work.

Maybe Trump won’t be able to Make America Great Again.  But a secondary benefit of cutting back on the extreme excess of regulations is that it will go a long way to make work fun again.  At the end of the day we may find that both objectives are one and the same.

[MN Gordon is the editor of the Economic Prism.  Visit Economic Prism.  Subscribe to the Economic Prism E-Newsletter at]

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