|The Costs of Over-Regulation|
By Ashton Ellis
Thursday, October 28 2010
There is a difference between protecting people and micromanaging to the point of absurdity. Hot on the heels of a Heritage Foundation report detailing the billions of dollars in lost jobs and profits caused by government over-regulation comes a charge from Europeans: TSA regulations are redundant and ineffective. Will California reverse the trend and suspend its major climate change regulation for the sake of job growth? Here’s what to watch for next Tuesday and beyond.
In the run-up to next Tuesday’s elections, the Heritage Foundation (a conservative think tank) released a report detailing the “hidden tax” impacting American economic growth for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010. According to the authors of Red Tape Rising: Obama’s Torrent of New Regulation, the top 43 new regulations are estimated to impose an additional $28 billion in costs on the American economy. Of this increase, 10 regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) account for $23.2 billion of the overall increase.
What are everyday Americans getting for all this? Thanks to the EPA, they will soon enjoy higher prices for cars, food, appliances and mortgages. Stricter fuel economy and emission standards will require car companies to pass along the compliance costs to consumers in the form of higher sticker prices. Mandated quotas for renewable fuels like ethanol will further repurpose corn growing from food to fuel. Since corn is a major staple in most food, the decrease in supply will increase its cost.
EPA regulations will have a similar upward spike in the cost of home appliances as new rules dictating energy efficiency standards kick-in. And, in another hit on the still fragile housing industry, construction sites are being targeted for “effluent” discharges. The process of eliminating such threats to an environmentalist’s peace of mind includes eliminating more than 7,000 construction jobs, and closing 147 firms. Then there’s the fact that buyers of newly non-compliant homes will experience higher mortgage costs to the tune of $1,953.
But wait; there’s more! As if to cast further doubt on the government’s ability to enact beneficial regulations, European authorities are calling on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to scrap its embarrassingly shallow airport procedures. In a recent speech, the chairman of British Airways criticized the TSA’s shoe and laptop screenings as “completely redundant.” Officials from the European Union are pleading with the United States government to rationalize its security policies to reduce the burden on passengers traveling into America. When the bureaucratic apparatus representing a socialist ethos starts questioning a government’s commitment to regulatory sanity, you know we have a problem.
Californians seem to be waking up to this reality. One of the most consequential initiatives on next Tuesday’s ballot is Proposition 23. The measure would suspend implementation of AB 32, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s monument to regulatory excess. Passed in the name of reducing global warming, the law seeks to return emissions to 1990 levels by 2010. That kind of rapid reduction requires costly upgrades and retrofits in order to avoid heavy fines.
Business owners got the message and are fleeing the state in droves. Thus, Prop 23 would sideline AB 32 until California’s unemployment – currently 12.5% – drops to 5.5% or below for four straight quarters. If passed, Prop 23 would be an important first step in reminding the environmental left that emissions targets are luxuries; jobs are necessities.
Ultimately, the costs of over-regulation amount to unreported taxation on Americans’ life, liberty, property and their pursuit of happiness. No one feels safer after partially disrobing in an airport, and no one’s quality of life is improved when economic opportunity is sacrificed on the altar of environmentalism. What’s needed is a comprehensive reordering of the government’s regulatory priorities. That process should start as early as next Tuesday night.
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