American in 2008 are the most over-regulated humans in human history. Maybe the Europeans and Chinese match us in regulations, but that would surprise me a lot. Liberty in America is dying "the death by a thousand cuts…" times 10 or 100.
We as a people are so over-regulated that we scarcely notice, much like not noticing the air we breathe. I guess it’s something you begin learning at the earliest ages, and pick up more regulations as you grow older…usually without a whimper.
Recently I tried to figure out one minute of my day…any day…that was not touched by some governmental regulation or edict. So, I carefully did a diary of everything that I did on a workday.
Here’s the workday schedule and the regulators:
Electric (Public Service Commission "PSC") clock alarm goes off (Consumer Product Safety Commission "CPSC")
Get up out of my bed (CPSC) and stand on the carpet (OSHA, CPSC). Walk into the bathroom (Bldg. code).
Turn on light (PSC)
Use the toilet and flush (building code and EPA regs on tank size and flush rate).
Use a toothbrush (CPSC) and toothpaste (FDA).
Turn on the shower (fluoride-treated city water, permit to drill a well in country) and step into it (bldg code, Anti-scalding regs for shower fixtures).
Soap (CPSC, EPA), rinse, shut off the water (EPA).
Towel dry (Federal Hazardous Substances Act for color dyes).
Step out onto carpet (Federal Flammable Fabrics Act), stand in front of vanity sink (building codes) and mirror (lead content, EPA).
Apply deodorant (EPA, volatile organic compounds "VOC," FDA)
Use a Q-tip in my ears (FDA cosmetics regs)
Take my daily maintenance medication (FDA) for a medical condition.
Walk out of the bath, back to bedroom (bldg. code)
Open the chest of drawers (EPA for VOCs on varnish). Take out my underwear (import tariff)
Walk into the dressing room, turn on light (PSC).
Put on my underwear (CPSC tag regs) and socks (EPA regs on dyes).
Remove a dress shirt (import tariff) from a hanger (EPA regs on steel manufacturer) in the closet (bldg. code).
Remove a pair of slacks (CPSC) from a plastic hanger (EPA) in the closet (bldg. code).
Put on my shoes (import tariff), tie the laces (CPSC regs on "aglets," the tips on the shoelace).
Put on my leather belt (EPA regs on leather tanning).
Walk out of the dressing room, turn off the light, walk down a seven-step stair (bldg. code) to the main level of the home (zoning statutes).
Walk through the den (bldg. code) to the kitchen (USDA food regs), turn on the light (EPA VOCs regs for the paint on the light fixture).
Take my vitamins (FDA), washed down with vegetable juice (EPA regs on pesticides for growers) from a 10 ounce (Bureau of Weights and Measures) juice glass (import tariff).
Leave kitchen (stove natural gas regs by PSC), turn out light (PSC).
Turn on the ceiling fan with lights (EPA regs on disposal of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs) in the den, open the back door (bldg code) and let the two dogs (county dog licenses) out into the back yard where there is an empty in-ground swimming pool (area-wide drought, city water department ban on outdoor watering and filling swimming pools).
Walk through the den (new regs on digital TVs), enter my home office (IRS deductions for home business).
Sit down in an office chair (import tariff) at my desk (import tariff).
Turn on my computer (EPA regs on computer disposal.
Check my emails (Patriot Act).
Go online (Patriot Act) and read the local newspaper (FCC) at their website (Patriot Act).
Turn on the TV (FCC) and watch Robin Meade on Headline News (FCC), fed to our TV sets by DirecTV (Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act of 1999).
Shut everything down, walk to the foyer (bldg. code), pick up my laptop bag (import tariff) and keys (EPA regs on steel), leave the house at 6:47 am (Eastern Daylight Saving Time, passed by Congress), lock the door (bldg. code on locks).
Open my car door (mandatory side door airbag) with my electronic keyfob (FCC).
Sit down in my Mercedes (import tariff), start the engine (EPA regs on fuel).
Turn on the radio (FCC) to my favorite station (FCC).
Drive (state driver's license) over paved streets (city/county statutes) and highways (DOT), filled with stop lights (local ordinances) and other traffic controls (DOT regs on sign size and color).
Drive through an intersection where there are red light cameras installed (city ordinance only for massive revenue collection).
Drive south on GA-400, go through toll booth (DOT), pay fifty cents.
Arrive at the parking garage (city bldg. code) for my office building (C corp for bldg owner), park the car (city regs on garage capacity).
Walk past six unused premium parking spaces (ADA) in the parking garage to the front door (bldg. code) of the office building (business license for building designer).
Take the elevator (city inspectors) up to the 6th floor (fire codes), exit the elevator (inspection certificate posted in elevator).
Insert the key (Worker's Comp law for the key manufacturer) in the office (Workers Comp for me) door (bldg code on height of lockset) and unlock it, and enter the office (bldg. code).
Flip the light switch (bldg. code on switch covers), walk across carpet (EPA on carpet dyes) to my private office (bldg. code), turn on the lights (PSC).
Sit (ADA regs on ergonomics) in my office chair (sales tax on chair) at my desk (sales tax).
Turn on the computer (anti-trust regs against Microsoft).
Check voicemail (Telecommunications Act regs on phone company).
8:00 to 12:00
Work as a claims adjuster (state license), use phone (Patriot Act), internet (Patriot Act), fax (import tariff), computer (Patriot Act), printer (import tariff), scanner (import tariff), paper (EPA regs on smokestack emissions at paper mills) and ink (EPA).
12:00 to 1:00
Eat lunch (USDA food regs) either in lunchroom (bldg. code) or at local restaurant (Health Dep't).
1:00 to 5:00
Work as a claims adjuster (state license), same as above.
Leave the office, get in my car (State license plate).
5:05 to 6:00
Drive north on GA-400 (DOT), go through toll booth (DOT), pay fifty cents.
Arrive home, take mail (postage regs) from mailbox (postal regs on height of mailbox).
6:00 to 7:00
Greet my wife (marriage license) and son (IRS tax deduction), watch the news (FCC), check email (Patriot Act).
7:00 to 8:00
Dinner in the dining room with glass of wine (State liquor tax).
8:00 to 10:00
Bedtime, brush teeth (FDA), disrobe (Flammable Fabrics Act on my jammies), get into bed (mattress tags), set alarm (CPSC) and turn out light (PSC).
10:00 to 6:00 am
Head on pillow ("remove tag under penalty of law"), sleep while breathing air (EPA regs on indoor air quality).
Friends, I challenge you to find ONE activity…JUST ONE…in your entire life that is not regulated by government. And don’t tell me it’s “your thoughts,” either. There are “hate crimes” all over America, both state and federal. So, even your thoughts are regulated.
No exercise in self-analysis should be so infuriating and so eye-opening as this exercise. But the question naturally arises, “How do we rid ourselves of all these regulations?”
That is a topic for another day.
Russell D. Longcore [send him mail] has an insurance claims practice in Atlanta, Georgia. He is married to “his redhead” Julie, and has three wonderful children, and three even more wonderful grandchildren.