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  • Tales of the Red Tape #14: Old MacDonald’s Commodity Cartel

    Growing an herb (the legal kind) might seem pretty straightforward. Clear soil; plant seeds; water, fertilize, and harvest. Until the government gets involved, that is. Then we have the likes of Marketing Order No. 985 (7 CFR part 985), as amended. Just as with almonds, apricots, avocados, cherries (both sweet … More

    Tales of the Red Tape #13: An “F” for Train Regulation

    Most folks would reasonably think that a railroad engineer or conductor would be able to distinguish the front of a train from the back of it. Not so the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). To ensure against any possible confusion, the agency requires the letter F to be displayed on the … More

    Time to Thaw Federal Freeze on State Truck Regulations

    It’s been two decades since Congress seized from states the authority to regulate the size of the biggest trucks traveling the highways. But what started as a temporary “freeze” on state rule-making predictably turned into a permanent federal usurpation of state regulation. The now-petrified standards have been rendered largely obsolete … More

    New Evidence Reveals Vast Powers of Consumer Finance Bureau

    Tucked into the 232 pages of the May 31 Federal Register—the daily catalog of new regulation—was glaring evidence that the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will exercise nearly unlimited power over how Americans obtain credit and loans and manage their money. That it will do so absent accountability … More

    Tales of the Red Tape #12: Regulatory Grapes of Wrath

    In the 1939 movie You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man, W. C. Fields demands to know “What contemptible scoundrel stole the cork from my lunch?!” If asked today, the answer might well be Congress. Dozens of Members are backing legislation that would allow states to prohibit consumers from making interstate … More

    Tales of the Red Tape #11: Circumcising Principle in San Francisco

    From the city that has already banned military recruiting, plastic bags, cat declawing, new billboards, ATM fees, citywide phone book delivery, Styrofoam takeout boxes, officials’ travel to Arizona, and fast-food toys, there now comes a ballot measure to outlaw the circumcision of minors. Should the initiative prevail in November, the … More

    Bernanke on Dodd-Frank Fallout: Debit Card Fee Caps Threaten Small Banks

    Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke has delivered yet another ominous prediction about Dodd–Frank fallout, telling the Senate Banking Committee last week that government dictates on debit card fees “could result in some smaller banks being less profitable or even failing.” Although not the first to recognize the problem, the Fed … More

    Tales of the Red Tape #10: The State Department’s Passport Inquisition

    Rewarding failure is a fundamental precept of The Bureaucratic Code, which helps to explain why government’s regulatory powers grow in spite of its incompetence. Examples are legion, of course, including the recent case of the State Department and passport fraud. The General Accounting Office (GAO) has on several occasions investigated … More

    One Clap for House Effort to Curb New Financial Bureau’s Power

    A House subcommittee on Wednesday approved legislation to modify the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Spawned by the vast Dodd–Frank financial regulation statute, the CFPB (as originally structured) enjoys sweeping powers over all manner of consumer credit—without adequate accountability. Yesterday’s action is a welcome start to taming the CFPB, … More

    Tales of the Red Tape #9: Regulators Going Off on Microwave Ovens

    At the behest of Congress, the Department of Energy (DOE) has “invested” several years and considerable tax dollars in devising restrictions on the amount of electricity it takes to run virtually every household appliance. Alas, a regulator’s work is never done. Having assumed control over the energy we use to … More