Free Markets, Free People

Its official–a supermajority think we’re over-regulated

And frankly, I think they’re right:

– There is little appetite among American voters for additional regulations coming out of Washington.  Three quarters (74%) of voters throughout the country believe that businesses and consumers are over-regulated.  Further, another two thirds (67%) believe that regulations have increased over the past few years.   These percentages include majorities of all partisan affiliations, with 91% of Republicans, 75% of Independents and 58% of Democrats saying businesses/consumers are over-regulated.

Now you may argue that “over-regulation” may mean different things to different groups.  However in each case the term “over” has specific meaning – it means there’s too much regulation.  While they may argue about the degree of over-regulation, it appears that each and every group sees over-regulation in the same and proper light.

– A key fear among voters is that regulations will hinder job creation, as most believe the result of new regulation will be either job losses (47%) or increased prices for American made goods and services (22%).

Or both.  You see, businesses will absorb only so much (job losses) before passing along the cost of regulatory compliance in the cost of their goods and services.  We’re well past the first part in this recession.  Businesses are about as lean and mean as they can stand to be and still function well.  Additional regulatory cost, then, is likely to be passed on to consumers – another among many reasons consumer confidence is down.

– More than two thirds (70%) believe increasing the number of regulations on American businesses will result in more jobs moving overseas.  Also, majorities agree that the increasing number of regulations have created uncertainty for large and small businesses (66%), and that agencies who enforce regulations fail to consider how their decisions lead to increased prices for consumers and job losses (69%).

All three of these beliefs among those polled is on the money.   The amount of regulation is a key consideration for businesses when they assess a business climate.  Their cost is calculated in the cost of doing business there.  And when that cost is deemed to be too much or too unreasonable, businesses look around for a less costly place to establish themselves.  We’ve seen this right here in the US as states with more regulation and higher taxes lose businesses to states that impose a less costly regime of taxes and regulations.  They don’t call the Midwest the “Rust Belt” for nothing.

And those polled are right when they say they believe those who impose regulations “fail to consider how their decisions lead to increased prices for consumers and job losses”.  But while regulators may not consider it, voters apparently do:

– One of the highest points of agreement in the survey is the fact that 73% concur that “every time the federal government mandates a new regulation on America’s large and small business, the prices of American made good and services like gasoline and food go up.”  Only 22% supported the view that “while many federal regulations might be just another burden to operations of America’s large and small businesses, customers do not see major cost increases for American made goods and services like gasoline and food.”

In a study, The Small Business Association found that the regulatory burden on small business in this country was quite high:

The research finds that the cost of federal regulations totals $1.1 trillion; the cost per employee for firms with fewer than 20 employees is $7,647.

Under 20 employees is indeed a “small business” yet most would agree, $7,647 in compliance costs per employee is a lot of money.  It is over $140,000 for the 20 employee firm.  That money has to be made up somewhere, just to break even, much less turn a profit.   And it is clear that depending on the type of firm and needs of the employer, any number of employees could be hired for that amount.  And don’t forget, small businesses account for about 80% of the jobs in the US.

So it is clear that there’s a tremendous regulatory burden that has been placed on the businesses of America that most feel over-regulate them and cost jobs and increase prices. 

There’s a move afoot within the Obama administration to cut regulation.  That’s a good thing.  But we have to remember, it’s the Obama administration where they usually talk the talk and never walk the walk.   One way to get the economy moving is to lift some of the burdensome regulation and its related costs.

So who should be leading this charge?  The executive branch.  And, as the poll indicates, most voters don’t understand that it is at that branch the buck stops.  But they are clear in what they want – much more consideration and an amended approval process before new regulations are imposed:

– Voters are simply unaware that Congress is not in a lead position with regard to regulation, as a majority say that Congress (52%) creates regulations. However, there is a strong desire for checks and balances in creating regulations, as two thirds (65%) favor requiring regulations be approved by Congress and the President before they are enforced.  Voters do not want a regulatory process that takes away legislative duties reserved for Congress – just as they do not want judges legislating from the bench.  This strong support for Congressional involvement is consistent across partisan groups, including among Democrats (67%), Republicans (65%) and Independents (64%).

Of course that would mean that most oppose the unilateral imposition of new regulation by the executive branch as we’ve seen during this administration. 

All that is not to say that at some level, most Americans see some necessity for regulation:

– There are some positive connections to regulations, with solid majorities saying they are positively impacted by those that require certain safety levels for drinking water (72%) or require controls to ensure better safety at schools and in the workplace (66%).

But, not like this:

– When presented with a lengthy explanation of the Boeing case — where the federal government has filed a lawsuit over the their motivations for locating a new facility in the non-union state of South Carolina — fully 78% of voters side with Boeing in agreeing that a business should be able to open a facility in any state, and that the government should not be involve in the decision about where Boeing or any company locates new plants.

A very interesting poll, and one that needs to be in front of every politician and department executive in government.  Back off, unchain the engine of prosperity and listen to the people.   They’re pretty clear here in what they want.  A less costly and intrusive regulatory regime and government out of places it doesn’t belong – like in the Boeing example.


Twitter: @McQandO

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17 Responses to Its official–a supermajority think we’re over-regulated

  • Straw man equating LIMITED government with NO GOVERNMENT in 4…3…2…

    • Would now be a good time for my starving grandma, cutting down the forests, filling the rivers with rubbish, the skies with soot and threatening to feed every one various and sundry poisons argument?

  • Count me in that “supermajority”, but let’s start small, shall we?

    How about we repeal that stupid light bulb ban — and I mean REPEAL, where January 1, 2012 would see you buying an incandescent bulb without automatically becoming a felon. We could move on to freeing up our toilets, lemonade stands, and sundry other aspects of daily life that don’t need federal regulation to make life worth living.

    My point is this: If we can’t de-regulate the little things, then de-regulating sufficiently to improve economic outlook is a pipe dream. If there is any word that best defines the FEDGOV, it’s “inertia” — once a regulation is in place, you have to yank it out by the root and salt the earth in which that regulation was embedded. Unfortunately, that is not the kind of action I see our “leaders” taking anytime soon, regardless of how many of us support getting rid of burdensome regulations.

    We might as well face it. The entire edifice of federal oversight will have to be dismantled, completely and utterly.

    • Your last sentence is over-kill, and anti-Constitutional.  I agree with the rest.

      • Just calling ’em as I sees ’em.

        Whether it happens tomorrow or ten years or twenty years from now, it still doesn’t negate the inevitable: the U.S., as currently organized, will collapse. What arises out of the ashes is another question. It’s possible that the present charade will be kicked into “high gear” with additional federal centralization, and we will turn into something better resembling the old USSR. It’s also possible that enough goodwill remains for the states to want to stay together, but with a much weaker federal entity — something along the lines of the Articles of Confederation or the Swiss cantonal system. A third possibility is complete dissolution, with each state reverting to its pre-Constitutional sovereign status.

        The Constitution is dead. We talk of it as if it was still in force, but only the ignorant continue to believe that the document imposes any restraint on the FEDGOV. The FEDGOV does as it pleases, and much of what passes for “laws” in this country are written by unaccountable bureaucrats as “regulations” that limit and bind as stringently as any kingly decree ever did. Make no mistake, though: when a critical mass of the populace realizes, and accepts the realization, that the Constitution is dead, the legitimacy of the FEDGOV will be compromised irrevocably. What will ensue then will not be pretty.

        For my money, I think that realization will come when the Supreme Court deems the ObamaCare mandate constitutional. They will, you know. The matter is a political one, and the USSC will decide the matter based on its political ramifications, not the law or the Constitution. The Beltway mentality is as far removed from common sense as one can get, and insider that bubble, it is better to stab the Constitution one more time than to allow the “First Black President” to fail.

    • I already have my stash of 100, 75, 60W bulbs. I’m getting a case of 40W bulbs soon.

  • There’s a move afoot within the Obama administration to cut regulation.  That’s a good thing.  But we have to remember, it’s the Obama administration where they usually talk the talk and never walk the walk.   One way to get the economy moving is to lift some of the burdensome regulation and its related costs.

    If I’m not mistaken new regulations have increased greatly during the Obama presidency.
    Did you know The EPA Declares Hay a Pollutant?  and that’s no bull.  😉

  • Generally regulation has been over sold and over valued.

    For example, banning child labor. In an era of harsh child labor, it is driven by economic necessity. We banned child labor when it was largely a thing of the past, and we made an exception of the major exception–agriculture, where many children still worked. The fundamentals are simple: banning child labor at a bad time economically will result in increased poverty and starvation. On the other hand, child labor is not going to be much of a problem in a wealthy world where the tendency is for parents to pamper their children.

    Another example is the food safety laws of Teddy Roosevelt’s administration. Based upon the lies of a socialist writer.

    What I notice is that much of the “good” regulation went into effect many years ago, and it is assumed to be good because your teacher told you so, and it seems like a good idea, superficially. I believe the benifits of this regulation is much less then is generally assumed. Now, the flip side of this is that it would be insane to launch a serious political career fighting against bad regulation that is widely assumed to constain protections that we can’t do without. So I’m out on a Ron paul crank sorta limb with this. But no one is gonna donate to my PAC or vote for me anyway, so I might as well have fun with my crank ideas.

    • some regulations are necessary, I don’t go all out libertarian on that argument because industries will indeed try to get away with all kinds of crap if they think they can.
      But the actual number of useful or necessary regulations is rather small and mostly having to do with passing on externalites to other people.
      I remember back in the 1980’s we had big government, we had lots of regulation, but it seems that things were not as bad as they are now, we had a good economy and government mostly did not get in the way of business.
      I would like a return to the level of spending and regulation we had in the year 1984.  It is like Orwell in reverse, let’s go BACK to 1984 !

      • I have some bitter experience with regulation on both ends of the spectrum.
        I have blown the whistle on polluters.  My report was investigated…and NOTHING happened, though there was NO doubt about what was done and who did it.
        I learned from that that regulators SELDOM do what they are mandated to do.  All you get is the ILLUSION of effective regulation.

        • “My report was investigated…and NOTHING happened”
          I used to work for a  local government pollution department(?). I know what you mean. Does anyone actually believe that  regulators don’t have their own agenda or are immune to political considerations?

  • Obama violated his own regulations while packaging gumbo on his 9/11 photo op in that soup kitchen.  Gumbo contains shellfish and anyone in “food” is required by law (June 2009) to attend and certify that they have had the proper training.  So, Mr. President, take off the latex gloves and step back away from the soup bowls before someone becomes ill.  You have the right to remain silent…

  • While I give due credit to executive-branch regulators for coming up with a lot of these nonsensical regulations, and acknowledge that there are some agencies that are making grand power grabs through regulation, I place most of the blame squarely on Congress.  Sure, they don’t create all the regs, but they had the power to do so and they punted it to the executive branch, and they can take it back anytime they want, if only they’d get off their lazy butts and do so.  But this regulatory nightmare is definitely of Congress’ creation.  They want to pass laws abolishing all lead in children’s toys or all arsenic in water by fiat, and they wave their hands at the regulatory agencies and say “You work out the details.”  The resulting morass is what you’d expect to come of trying to legislate the impossible.

  • The average professional in this country wakes up in the morning, goes to work, comes home, eats dinner, and then goes to sleep, unaware that he or she has likely committed several federal crimes that day. Why? The answer lies in the very nature of modern federal criminal laws, which have exploded in number but also become impossibly broad and vague. In Three Felonies a Day, Harvey A. Silverglate reveals how federal criminal laws have become dangerously disconnected from the English common law tradition and how prosecutors can pin arguable federal crimes on any one of us, for even the most seemingly innocuous behavior. The volume of federal crimes in recent decades has increased well beyond the statute books and into the morass of the Code of Federal Regulations, handing federal prosecutors an additional trove of vague and exceedingly complex and technical prohibitions to stick on their hapless targets. The dangers spelled out in Three Felonies a Day do not apply solely to “white collar criminals,” state and local politicians, and professionals. No social class or profession is safe from this troubling form of social control by the executive branch, and nothing less than the integrity of our constitutional democracy hangs in the balance.