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  • Tales of the Red Tape

    Tales of the Red Tape is a special series on The Foundry that exposes some of the more egregious federal regulations that have multiplied by an unprecedented degree in the past year.

    Tale of the Red Tape #19: A More Perfect Union Advantage

    Let’s take a closer look at how the Obama Administration demonstrates “efficiency” and “economy” in actual practice. Fair warning: It ain’t pretty. New rules (supposedly) intended to maximize the services of government contractors require such firms to give first preference in hiring to the workers of the company that lost … More

    Tales of the Red Tape #18: Americans Take a Regulatory Bleating

    Some 14 million Americans are jobless, but there just aren’t enough qualified sheepherders or goatherders to meet demand. The federal government, therefore, is allowing ranchers to “import” foreign shepherds to temporarily tend their flocks, but only if they comply with the full range of regulations specified by the official Labor … More

    Tales of the Red Tape #17: A Myopic Regulatory Vision

    Optometrists and ophthalmologists aren’t seeing eye to eye these days on the proper role of government. So contentious is the issue that divides them, in fact, that West Virginia legislator Don Perdue says he spent 16 hours locked in his office “trying to keep (them) from clawing each others’ eyeballs … More

    Tales of the Red Tape: Tackling Serious Matters in Washington, D.C.

    The nation’s capital is wracked by indecision these days. Raise the debt limit, or no? Don’t ask, don’t tell, or do? And, how will President Obama obfuscate this week on Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Egypt, or Iran? But take heart, dear citizens, all is not so murky. The National Marine Fisheries … More

    Tales of the Red Tape #15: More Regulatory Manure from USDA

    It’s impossible to imagine that the Founders conceived of America as a place where the federal government regulates compost. Yet here we are. Effective May 9, the use of compost in the production of certified organic foods must comply with precise temperature, moisture, and chemical standards set by the U.S. … More

    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

    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

    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