Regulation Worse than Friction

I’ll concede the we need some regulation. Breathing according to a set pattern is helpful to the body. Meals of standard proportions promote good health. A certain number of hours of sleep per 24-hr period is also beneficial. And so forth.

But the number of regulations which we’ve seen added to our lives is, well, difficult to fathom. Unfortunately, this all started happening in a big way before I was born, so there was little I could do to stop things:

In the United States, which drove most of the “golden quarter’s” progress, 1970 marks what scholars of administrative law (like me) call the “regulatory explosion.” Although government expanded a lot during the New Deal under FDR, it wasn’t until 1970, under Richard Nixon, that we saw an explosion of new-type regulations that directly burdened people and progress: The Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act, the founding of Occupation Safety and Health Administration, the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, etc. — all things that would have made the most hard-boiled New Dealer blanch.

More of those “good intentions.” I’m not sure those words mean what you think they mean.