By Rich Kozlovich - Originally published January 10, 2014 updated 12/23/15
In 2013 the United States Congress was criticized for not getting things done. The Congress “only” passed 65 new laws. Of course we have to understand that one year they passed over three hundred new laws.
What is really important to understand is when new laws are passed the baton of power is passed to the permanent bureaucracies, whose function is to make even more laws called – “rules”! In 2013 there was an average of 56 new regulations resulting from each law passed totaling 3659 new laws called – “rules”! That multiplier has been as low as 12 per new law, but that was in 2006 when Congress passed 321 new laws. If you average out the multipliers over the last ten years the average multiplier is 25.36.
So what’s the rest of the story? Last year the states passed over 40,000 new laws. If we make a broad assumption that the average multiplier applies to the states we now have a potential of 1,014,400 new laws called – “rules!” Rules created by unaccountable bureaucrats, with their own agendas and views of reality, and who, generally speaking, went to college and then into government.
During the first five years of the Obama administration regulatory costs increased by $500 billion dollars, “with $112 billion in regulatory compliance costs in 2013 alone, and a burden that has been predicted to increase this year to as much as $143 billion”. The federal registry, where all the regulations are listed, contain 80,224 pages this year alone. It’s estimated that in ten years at the current rate of regulatory growth there will generate approximately 900,000 new pages of regulations, which will be on top of the approximately 800,000 pages of regulations passed in the previous ten years.
All of these regulations do one thing for sure - create jobs – for non-productive bureaucrats. It took government employees 10.38 billion hours to do “the paperwork for the federal government in 2013, and will take 78,000 full-time employees to complete the additional paperwork.”
We also have to look at who benefits from laws and the regulations they generate. In this kind of hyper-regulatory, high tax economy many of these laws and regulations are promoted by businesses that want to make it harder for companies that will be, or already are, competitors. As a result “all aspects of business, entrepreneurship degenerates into “bribery and diplomacy.” Instead of focusing on creating value for customers, entrepreneurs spend their time lobbying for favors or to avoid penalties, trying to discern the government’s next move, anticipating or adapting to the newest regulations.”
But this was to be expected from political parties that love big government and “more” laws and regulations - all the better to control our lives. What about the administrations that have been considered conservative, anti-big government and opposed to all these regulations? There were more regulations passed during George W. Bush’s administration than any president since Richard Nixon. Furthermore - this idea there's some sort of invisible divide between the left and the so-called right regarding regulations and the promotion of the all powerful state - is an illusion!
“The modern regulatory state is a bipartisan enterprise: During the half-century before President Obama's election, the greatest growth in regulation came under Presidents Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. And the Bush administration set the stage for many of the Obama initiatives that Republicans are now attacking. Dodd-Frank's policy of designating some financial firms as "too big to fail" is a codification of the Paulson-Bernanke bailout approach of 2008. It was the Bush Treasury Department that first proposed a financial consumer-protection agency, and the Bush Environmental Protection Agency that first proposed regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. The Obama energy rules were authorized — and in some cases, such as the light-bulb ban, required — by a 2007 statute that President Bush vigorously championed.”
What about Richard M. Nixon? Nixon was a strange man and still an enigma to many, and understandably so, because Nixon was the first to advocate what was called a New Federalism, which would ‘devolve’ power to state and local governments. But he was the first one to jump on the environmental band wagon promoted by the first Earth Day in 1970. He believed this was a precursor of public concern and he wanted to benefit from it politically.
Eventually he signed the Clear Air Act, the Clear Water Act the Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act, requiring environmental impact statements for federal projects.
He created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). All of which create a virtual lava flow of scientifically dubious regulations generating outrageous burdens on the American people and the American economy.
Furthermore, all these laws and agencies give rise to lawsuits by activists that plague economic development with lawsuits, legal costs, studies and delays, very often with collusion between the activists and federal agencies involved. All in order to gain authority and power Congress never granted or intended. To justify these actions all they have to say is, "the court made us do it". This is a gross form of corruption known as "Sue and Settle". And the courts are party to this corruption.
What is the cost of all these federal regulations to the nation’s people? One point eight trillion dollars a year! That's just at the federal level - I have no idea what kind of costs of all these state laws impose on society.
So what is the solution - at least at the federal level?
No one can fix this piecemeal because it is a foundational issue and until that foundational problem is recognized it will never be solved. So what is that foundational issue? Passage of the 16th and 17th amendments in 1913, which laid the foundation for national economic doom.
The 16th amendment gave the federal government the right to tax income. This gave them the right to confiscate an unending amount of society’s money - which is called their fair share - and spend it like drunken sailors. That turned the federal government into an insatiable beast that can never be fed to satisfaction, creating debt that is threatening the stability of not only the nation, but the world.
The 17th amendment changed how Senators are chosen. The Founding Fathers were determined to prevent the federal government from becoming an all too powerful entity that was centralized and out of control. In order to do this they created a government that wasn’t supposed to do very much, thus creating a true balance of power between the central government and the state governments. In those days the word ‘state’ didn’t mean province, it meant an independent nation. So the Senators were chosen by the state governments to be ambassadors to the federal government in order to stop power grabbing by the central government.
After passage of the 17th amendment they would be elected by popular vote, exactly what the Founding Fathers wanted to avoid, because that was already what the House of Representatives was for. That amendment destroyed the balance of power, the 10th amendment notwithstanding. As long as the 17th exists the 10th is meaningless, and by misusing the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution the federal government can overturn any and all local authority, and individual rights guaranteed under the Constitution.
The almost complete deterioration of the Constitution’s separation of, and balance of power means it's the Fourth Branch of government - the bureaucrats - who are now really making the nation's laws - not Congress! With the executive branch increasingly imposing its will and vision on the nation and President Obama and his administration repeatedly saying they are not going to "wait for Congress”
What about the Supreme Court? Don’t they understand how the Commerce Clause is being misused?
Until the Rehnquist court in 1995 SCOTUS never saw a law that exceeded Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause. In fact, they held the view that no matter how slight the impact might be on commerce it would now be subject to federal control. If there ever was a system for abuse and tyranny this was it, and now the states were powerless to do anything about it.
Roman Senator Cato the Elder was born in 234 BC and believed Carthage was too dangerous to be allowed to exist. Therefore he gave speeches ending in the phrase [no matter the topic of the speech] “Carthago delenda est”, “Carthage Must be Destroyed".
The 16th and 17th amendments are our modern Carthage – too dangerous to exist. This is foundational. The only fix is the repeal of the 16th and 17th amendments. After that - everything else will fall into place. But first we must be willing to recognize the 16th and 17th amendments really are the enemy - our modern Carthage!
Oh, one more thing.
Adding a 28th amendment creating age and term limits for the federal judiciary would do wonders for the nation.