The Daily Caller had an article on a new Gallup poll that showed 47 percent of Americans think that the government regulates too much. The first question that popped into my head after reading the headline was, “What are 53% of Americans smoking?”
I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about monetary policy, government spending, and even taxes. But we cannot ignore the huge burden that is placed on us from government regulations. They lower our overall standard of living considerably. They make wages lower. They make prices higher. They deter entrepreneurs from starting businesses. They cause unemployment. They are, in effect, a giant tax.
It is not just well-known regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank. They are horrible enough and put a huge cost on businesses. There are tens of thousands of regulations. Major companies have entire departments devoted to figuring out and complying with regulations.
It is actually probably easier to start a business in communist China than in capitalist America. China has less red tape. I think the U.S. is still stronger as far as property rights, but China has less bureaucracy in many ways. Chinese businesses, operating in China, are not worried about such things as the Americans for Disabilities Act, which by the way, actually deters companies from hiring disabled people.
Repealing regulations is something that could be done almost instantly and few people would feel the pain. It is not like cutting Social Security and Medicare. It is not like cutting highway funds where either the state and local governments have to make up the difference or else the roads and traffic become worse. If federal regulations are repealed, the only ones who experience short-term pain are the workers for the government agencies administering the regulations and the workers who help their companies comply with them. I suppose that big companies might also suffer, in that they can’t use government as much to prevent competition from smaller businesses, but is that a bad thing?
While repealing thousands and thousands of regulations isn’t an answer to all of our problems, it is a low-cost way of helping the economy tremendously. 53% of Americans have no idea just how many regulations there are and how dramatically they affect their standard of living. In fact, I would bet that a good portion of the 47%, who think government regulates too much, realize just how extensive the damage is. They are correct in saying that there is too much government regulation and they probably only know a tiny fraction of the regulations in existence.
I think this is one area where Americans can unite in calling for smaller government. It is not like Social Security where one group benefits at the expense of another. Most people can benefit from less government regulations and more regulations from the free marketplace. If America is ever to be truly prosperous again, it can’t happen with the level of government regulation that currently exists.