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  • A Year of Regulatory Abuse: The 10 Worst New Rules of 2010

    Red tape chokes economic freedom

    The year 2010 will stand as a watershed in regulation. In all likelihood, government at every level imposed more dictates on more facets of citizens’ lives than ever before, from the timing of stock trades to the proper size of showerheads. Lawmakers and regulators construct complex cost–benefit calculations to justify the rules, but they never account for the erosion of liberty inherent in each and every one. Some regulations are far worse than others, of course, exacting disproportionate costs—fiscal and otherwise. The 10 listed below rank as particularly egregious, and all deserve a swift demise in the year to come.

    1. There hardly could be a more inapt title for the Obamacare legislation than the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” Neither protection nor affordable describes the federal government forcing Americans to buy specific types of health care coverage from particular types of insurers. For sheer constitutional insult, the individual mandate ranks among 2010’s worst regulations.

    2. The Dodd–Frank financial regulation will ultimately encompass some 243 new formal rule-makings by 11 different federal agencies. Most every sector of finance will be hit by rules that will inhibit product innovation and availability of credit. Creation of the “Consumer Financial Protection Bureau” to regulate all manner of financial products and services—including mortgages, credit cards, even student loans—constitutes regulatory overload of the highest order. For its vaguely defined powers and sweeping mandate, the bureau belongs among the year’s 10 worst regulatory exploits.

    3. The regulatory output of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the past 12 months could easily fill all 10 slots on this list, if not more. Several of the agency’s costly and unwarranted regulations in 2010, including new emissions standards for vehicles, stem from a “finding” by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson that carbon dioxide constitutes a threat to human health and the environment. For its total disregard of science, the EPA’s carbon emissions strictures rank among the worst regulations of 2010.

    4. In defiance of both Congress and a federal appeals court, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued an “order” for regulating how Internet service providers can manage transmissions over their networks. Although regulatory details have been scarce, the FCC has violated the principle of a free and open Internet. For its “jaw-dropping interventionist chutzpah,” as noted by FCC commissioner Robert McDowell, the net neutrality regulation ranks among 2010’s worst.

    5. It’s a sure bet that every room in the house has been touched by the heavy hand of government. During the past three decades, Congress has imposed a multitude of energy standards for a host of appliances, including ceiling fans, air conditioners, heat pumps, clothes washers and dryers, stoves and ovens, refrigerators, dishwashers, dehumidifiers, furnaces, light bulbs, and water heaters—to name a few. No longer do consumers exercise the freedom to balance appliance performance against cost. In many cases, the efficiency standards increase the price of appliances by more than consumers will recoup from energy savings. For robbing Americans of choice and raising appliance costs, Washington’s energy decrees deserve a spot among the top 10 worst of 2010.

    6. As if controlling the airwaves isn’t work enough, Congress has directed the FCC to prepare rules requiring schools that receive federal funding for Internet equipment and service to educate students on “cyber-bullying prevention.” For attempting to micromanage the nation’s manners, the bullying rules make the 2010 list of worst regulations.

    7. Employing a particularly annoying acronym, Congress adopted volume limits on television commercials with passage of the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act. For nannyism run amok, the volume restrictions rank among the worst regulations of 2010.

    8. The incidence rate of food-borne illness has been declining for a decade and is dramatically lower than previously estimated. Yet Congress vastly expanded the powers of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate every aspect of food production, from farm to table. Spanning some150 pages, the act authorizes the FDA to dictate how farmers grow fruits and vegetables, including rules governing soil, water, hygiene, packing, temperatures, and even what animals may roam which fields and when. For imposing costs that bear no relation to benefit, the new food regulations earn a spot among 2010’s worst.

    9. Municipalities and states across the country could face tens of millions of dollars in unanticipated costs to bring traffic signs into compliance with the new edition of the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. According to the new regulations, “The lettering for names of streets and highways on Street Name signs shall be composed of a combination of lower-case letters with initial upper-case letters.” Moreover, the upper-case letters must be at least six inches in height, while lower-case letters must be 4.5 inches tall. Streets with speed limits of 40 mph and over need sizes of eight inches and six inches for upper- and lower-case letters, respectively. Signs for local roads with speed limits under 25 mph only need letters half as tall as the high-speed roads. For indiscriminate waste of tax dollars, the new signage requirements make the list.

    10. We reserve spot number 10 for all the localities that have banned or otherwise restricted fast-food restaurants. Not only have these ordinances driven away jobs and consumer choice, but they have made McDonald’s and the like easy targets for the more litigious among us. For example, Monet Parham, an employee of the California Department of Public Health, has lent her name—and that of her daughter Maya, age 6—to a preposterous class-action lawsuit alleging that McDonald’s is “unfair” to parents. The lure of a Happy Meal toy, Parham claims, so provokes Maya’s “pester power” that familial conflict ensues. For hastening the erosion of personal responsibility, these restrictions on legitimate and beneficial economic activity round out the list of 2010’s worst regulations.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    14 Responses to A Year of Regulatory Abuse: The 10 Worst New Rules of 2010

    1. MJF, CT says:

      When you actually put it all on paper, there is no doubt that the USA has crossed over into Socialism. The government is into every part of our lives thanks to Liberals who ignore the Constitution and thanks to people who just can not or will not "do for themselves". Every time you run to the government to get a problem solved or for a hand out, the government becomes more and more powerful. the United States government is no longer a government by and for the People. It is more a government for itself and by itself.

    2. MO, MS says:

      While I agree that some of these rules are some of the worst rules of 2010, there is one I think that should be cleared up.

      Rule 9: Street sign changes.

      The new federal mandate will take years to fully implement. Cities and towns must have a plan in place by 2012 (note: signs do not have to be fully changed but a plan about how they will changed is due by 2012). By 2015 signs must meet retroreflectivity requirements. Fianally, by 2018, signs meet retroreflectivity requirements and wording must be mixed lettering. The other thing to note is that if a sign is perfectly good, then it doesn't have to be changed. A city can keep it until it's not longer retroreflective…then they are required to replace it.

      Also, the federal government has provided funding for all cities and states to be able to change the signs. The funding information is below:

      Surface Transportation Program (STP)

      o Used for a variety of transportation purposes, including:

      ? Improvement of signing and pavement markings

      — These funds can be used on all public roads except those functionally classified as local or rural minor collectors.

      Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP)

      o $1.25 billion annually goes to states

      o Twenty-one (21) states transferred money from HSIP to other programs when it could have been used for these vital safety improvements. Eight states have used only 50 percent of their funding to date.

      There are specific requirements to be able to use Highway Safety Improvement Program Funds for sign upgrades. To be eligible for HSIP funds, the improvement of highway signage must be:

      o Identified as a priority in the State’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan, AND

      o Correct or improve a hazardous road location or feature or address a highway safety problem, AND

      o Locations for potential safety improvement must be identified through a datadriven process.

      I obtained all my information from the American Traffic Safety Services Association website at http://www.atssa.com/cs/root/news_pr/retroreflect

    3. West Texan says:

      To MJF. The federal government has long lost sight of it's limited delegated role. We need to return the federal government back to its founding design such as our dual sovereignty. Social policy was always the province of individual states. Unfortunately, the U.S. congress long ago abused its taxing powers leading to its abusive use of extortion and overreach. They should be limited to collecting revenues for national security and foreign diplomacy concerns. And nothing else!

    4. Bobbie says:

      Tax payers are done paying for government's abuse on tax payers and America.

      paraphrasing the President " the republican party will have to play their base for a while." he's assuming compliance! We don't want compliance to anything unconstitutional or global governing.

      This is America who's founding principles are written to include all mankind. If the world's people were governed under these non-discriminative, non-racist, unbiased, principles things could be different.

      Why is Nancy Pelosi threatening violence if obamacare doesn't go through?

    5. Joe Kansas says:

      The author of this article is over-reacting. S/he's doing what too many fire-and-brimstone preachers do: Find a snappy-sounding thesis, then work like hell to find some truths that fit, and torque other truths so they do fit, their thesis.

      Yes, the Individual Mandate in the Healthcare Bill is an abomination. If the new Repubs in Congress were wiser, they'd only attack *that* clause for repeal in the new regulations. That clause would be fairly easy to kill, as they'd have the backing of all those young liberals who pay lip-service to anything Obama-esque, but do not want someone–even their precious Obama–forcibly subtracting money from their already-lean paychecks. That clause the Repubs *could* get stripped away. Instead they hope to throw it all out–a monumental waste of time, posturing and self-gratification.

      But most of the author's other rants sound like Bill Maher's immoderate temper tantrums crossed with a Libertarian ideolog's view that "Everything would be fine if the government just dried up and blew away. We'll let the free marketplace regulate everything."

      That was tried in the early 20th century and the greedy SoBs running things shared the pie so seldom and so stingily we ended up with labor unions. And don't the captains of industry now wish they had shared more willingly and ten decades earlier?

      Then they might have avoided the IWW "wobblies," and the rash of industry-smashing and individual initiative-crushing unions that followed.

      So we, alas, need more government regs than you like because–without them–I am so sorry to observe, the captains of industry will amass all the wealth for themselves and let the masses fight it out for ten cents an hour.

      There is a sane and balanced mid-ground in government regulation, yet it's not envisioned by the author of this article, nor by the far ends of the Right or the Left.

      That's how it looks from Kansas, the center of the USA.

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    9. West Texan says:

      To Bobbie, Like most on the far left, Nancy has a Michael Moore propagandized vision of the world. "Why can't we be more like Canada's socialist nirvana here in the U.S.?" Such is her calling of the never ending ignorance of big socially progressive fantasies, which conveniently hides the truth. Yes, leftists foam at the mouth when you refuse to comply with their dogma. They're so in touch with their inner self that they're totally out of touch with reality and tragically, individual freedoms.

    10. Drew Toronto says:

      Good for Joe Kansas.

      Dead on. The unions have been neutered now, and look at average incomes adjusted for inflation over the last 30 years. down, down, down.

      I wish we didn't need unions, but the rich will always try to get richer. The meek may eventually inherit the earth, but the ruthless will have used up all of it's resources in the meantime.

    11. Bobbie says:

      Thanks West. Check out Joe up there?

      Joe, if you're satisfied being misinformed than you have a point. This is a well written article that only people of truth and honesty appreciate. This obamacare was coerced by those who support it and under false representation. Everything promised is nothing but a set up to higher costs and less quality of care and no freedom of choice and depletion of the private sector which leads to higher unemployment in the private sector. Remember, insurance isn't health care and your health is your own. Does that help?

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    14. Pingback: Strictly Right » Blog Archive » A Year of Regulatory Abuse: The 10 Worst New Rules of 2010

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