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Memories of the 28th Century

Superabundance of Laws

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A few days ago I sent a letter to several newspapers in regard to one of the referenda that will be on the Massachusetts. Perhaps it will make a difference, but there was what I regard as a problem with the question, because neither side of the question was good. Fundamentally, it is a matter of over-regulating and over-legislating. There are too many laws and regulations. I was initially just thinking about state laws, but the problem is much worse when one looks at federal laws and regulations. There are even regulations that have been given the weight of law, even though they were never passed by Congress.

The referendum involved is in regard to gambling, which had been overwhelmingly illegal for reasons that are not clear. So the legislature decided to give some friends licenses to operate resort casinos, three in a state with a population of more than four million. But there are people who think that there should be laws to prevent everyone from doing what those few donít like. If casinos are legal, that doesnít mean that gambling in mandatory. But some people are sure that they know how everyone should live. The same situation is true for marijuana and other drugs.

Drugs are illegal, because some people found them distasteful, not because there is any good reason for government to be involved in what people do to themselves. And opiate addicts would become less unpleasant and less criminal, if their drugs were legal. Some of them might even get regular jobs instead of supporting their habits by crime. But that assumes that the taxes on legal drugs would be reasonable, so that people could buy them legally, instead of having to continue to use black-market sources.

These matters and similar over-regulation of individual activity is obvious and repugnant, but it is not as important and wide reaching as many of the regulations that have been imposed on industries. Taken together regulations on manufacturers have driven most manufacturing out of the United States. Those regulations exist both on the state and federal level.

I am not claiming that there should be no regulations of how businesses operate, but micromanaging workplace operations does not help anyone, except the inspectors, maybe. The article in the Economist,, is excellent, and it makes many of the pints that I was going to make. But I remember when the U.S. was a major manufacturer of all sorts of things that canít be made here profitably anymore, because the OSHA and EPA regulations are too onerous. The regulations could be fulfilled, but it is less expensive to move production to China, Indonesia, Vietnam, or somewhere else that has less regulation.
As an example, here in New England the textile industry was very important from its beginnings in Slatersville and up and down every river that could supply power from the early 1800ís until after WW 2. Regulation wasnít the only thing that pushed textile industry out of the country; labor unions were another force, but by the 1970ís when I worked for a few months at one of the last textile operations in the Lowell area. It was clear by then that only specialty operations could survive, because they were not as large as the large operations that used to to the rivers different colors with discharged spent dye.

Some industries never started in some places because of regulatory hurdles were put on the front end. For example, the largest sedimentary basin in North America that has not been explored for oil is the Connecticut River Valley in Connecticut and Massachusetts. State environmental regulations simply made it impossible. And the possibility of natural gas in Berkshire County is similarly effected.

While restricting the use of things that are known to be hazardous is not unreasonable, there should be ways to waive the regulations for something that is rarely done. And there is no reason to regulate something in advance; although there are general principles that could make it possible to work around. But no, that would make too much sense. One thing that distinguishes humans from other animals is our ability to deal with dangerous much better than other animals, but some regulators seem to assume that humans are not intelligent enough to be near anything that might be harmful.

We should get ready for more regulations with regard to alleged anthropogenic climate change. It's amazing that people who can't even produce a logically valid argument can catch the world's attention. I started reading the new IPCC report, but no evidence is not included, so it is just a mass of unsupported assertions, just the thing to base laws on.

This can't go on. we must eliminate laws and regulatons that are excessive, and make the U.S. a haven for people who dare to work and act again. It is sad that the country has become so over-regulated that it is difficult to live and work in the U.S. anymore.

Updated 11-03-2014 at 10:32 AM by PeterL