Regulation

Ridiculous Rules For Swordfish, Ceiling Fans, Grain Barges Help Make 2016 The Most Highly Regulated Year In History

Registry of federal regulations surpasses 50,000 pages, on pace to break annual record.

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JULIE FLETCHER/KRT/Newscom

With the approval of new rules for catching swordfish, manufacturing cement, and weighing the contents of grain barges, the federal government's listing of regulations surpassed 50,000 pages in length.

Not all-time. Oh, no, no. That's just for this year.

Don't let anyone tell you that nothing gets done in Washington, D.C., these days, because the bureaucratic cogs in the federal machine have been hard at work this year. It's only August, but the Federal Register is on pace to reach more than 85,900 pages before the end of the year—breaking the all-time record of 81,611 pages that was set just last year.

Ryan Young, a fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute who tracks the daily increases in the federal regulatory state, points out that the compliance cost for regulations approved in 2016 along tally between "$3.92 billion and $6.12 billion."

That's a huge amount of money, and even though it will never show up on a bill or be taken out of a paycheck, it's still being paid in hidden ways.

For a perfect example of this, look at the most expensive regulation passed in the last week, according to Young's tracking, which had do with school lunches.

The feds say those new rules for the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program will help save as much as $1.4 billion in long-term costs by reducing childhood obesity. Whether it will accomplish that goal is questionable, but it will only cost a schools an additional 1.5 percent in their food budgets, the government reckons.

Those higher costs will be paid for by students buying lunch, or by school district budgets funded with tax dollars or by federal school lunch subsidy programs funded by tax dollars. It's coming out of someone's pocket, somewhere, that much is certain.

Individually, these are little things. A few more pennies for a school lunch. Extra tests required before motors for ceiling fans can be put on the market. A quota on how many swordfish can be harvested each year. Emissions standards for cement manufacturers. None of these things are likely to force businesses to close and won't inspire headlines or partisan bickering on the campaign trail.

Those little things pile up, like the pages in the Federal Register, to create something much more substantial.

There is little doubt that we'll finish 2016 with the largest version of the federal registry every produced, since this year is also the final year of President Barack Obama's time in office. If history is any guide, you can expect a flurry of new regulations during the last 60 days of his administration—the Clinton administration published some 26,000 pages of "midnight regulations" during the same period in late 2000 and early 2001.

To compare the federal regulatory burden of 2016 to years past, check out CEI's Ten Thousand Commandments project, directed by Vice President for Policy Clyde Wayne Crews, which covers every year since 1996.

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43 responses to “Ridiculous Rules For Swordfish, Ceiling Fans, Grain Barges Help Make 2016 The Most Highly Regulated Year In History

  1. Anyone who’s seen Hook, Line & Sinker knows the dangers swordfish pose. On the other hand, Halle Berry.

    1. “On the other hand, Halle Berry” is pretty much playing the trump card. I mean, you know, would.

  2. between “$3.92 billion and $6.12 billion.”

    That’s a huge amount of money

    Let’s take the middle value: $5 billion. That’s what the federal government spends in half a day.

  3. We’re going to need a bigger woodchipper.

  4. Look at all those high-paying, government jobs being created.

  5. Rufus, this is why you BIL can’t order a beer in peace.

  6. A machine that runs itself. Everybody warned us it would be run to benefit whoever controlled the levers, few thought what it would mean when the machine itself controlled the levers. Forget the “special interests” vying for control of Congress or the White House, the government operates to benefit itself now and neither Congress nor the President has much influence on what the bureaucracy does. And it’s always “more”.

    That’s what bothers me about the criticisms of the “Obama Administration” as if the IRS or the DoJ or whoever acts solely at the behest of the President rather than looking out for themselves. You think Lerner, for example, was targeting TEA Party groups just because Obama ordered her to? No, he might have encouraged her or at least not discouraged her, but that was the IRS looking out for anti-government threats to its own well-being. This idea that if we just change the Top. Men. the machine would run as intended is pure fantasy.

    1. Lerner’s smug attitude when she marched into the congressional hearings tells me that she knew she was going to skate and that is Obama giving the green light to all the other hacks who were watching that, and you know they were watching close.

      1. The Deep State is out of control, no question at all.

        And I don’t see any way to solve this problem that doesn’t involve something pretty catastrophic.

        1. I don’t see any way to solve this problem that doesn’t involve something pretty catastrophic.

          Probably not until there are bodies hanging from lampposts. And… something about woodchippers…

          1. If bodies are hanging from lampposts, people will demand government do something about it.

    2. The only way it stops is if it self-destructs because of some internal inconsistency. Otherwise it is invincible.

    3. Bureaucracy. It’s what eventually crippled the Byzantine empire. When Muslims first went rampaging about conquering territory by the sword, there was a lot less bloodshed than one might have expected for the period. The reason for that was that many cities under the control of Byzantium simply gave up without resistance because the Muslims promised that they’d be able to keep their religion (as second-class citizens unless they were artisans, but alive nonetheless) and that they slashed the taxes and red tape that was strangling commerce. All the Muslims had to do was keep their promises, and they actually did, and huge swaths of territory fell to them without loss of life.

      To find what rots any nation out from the inside, look first to the bureaucrats.

  7. Libertarian

    Moment

    I’m sure things will improve greatly when the vile hag or the orange buffoon take office, though!

    1. I like the cut of your snark. Libertarians are an almost pathologically optimistic people. American public opinion is becoming more “socially liberal,” not more respectful of liberty.
      .
      …That is, unless you are interested in your “freedom” to have every GMO labeled, every space smokefree, every experience free of flirtation and “microaggression,” every sexual encounter tedious, every grocery store free of plastic bags and styrofoam, every firm pretending to approve of your sexual practices, every bookshelf free of “corporate”-produced expressions of political opinion (not to mention climate change denialism), every egg cagefree, every circus emptied of animals, every comedy bit inoffensive, and just generally everything you personally dislike banned.

      1. American public opinion is becoming more “socially liberal,” not more respectful of liberty.

        Fuck, around here we call them cultural libertarians.

        1. I see your point. But to me a “cultural libertarian” should at least be on the right side of every issue I mentioned above; I specifically left out anything that has to do with taxes, spending, monetary policy, or anything otherwise “economic.” Fuck, Spiked magazine, whose editor frequently guest-writes and gets interviewed here, is the house journal of an ex-Marxist political cult; and even they are better libertarians than the LP Presidential ticket, to say nothing of our supposed Millennial saviors.
          .
          Oh, and forgot “every joule of energy produced according to your pseudoscientific superstitions.” Among many, many more, of course.

  8. Can we get a proof reader over here?

    I don’t like to pick on the interns but somebody should check their work before putting things on-line.

  9. A constitutional amendment requiring all laws be smaller than 1 page double spaced 12 font TNR, that all laws sunset after 10 years and that for 10 years every new law passed requires Congress to eliminate 5.

    1. It takes a law to repeal a law.

      Yes, morons actually make this argument.

      1. All the better. That should keep them busy for 10 years.

    2. And a timetable of cost/benefit targets that rescind the law in toto if not met. I don’t want to hear how little this is going to cost and how much good it’s going to do and then 5 years later – when it cost twice as much and did half as much good – that very failure is used as an (all too often persuasive) argument for why the program needs its funding increased. In what other business does failure to deliver as promised get rewarded like that?

      1. But the Deep State will do the cost/benefit analysis, Jerry. Its the Borg. Throw whatever you want at it, and it will be assimilated.

        1. The problem with politics these days is that we don’t run politicians out of town on rails anymore.

          1. I think even that is pretty modest.

            Dueling is entirely voluntary among the participants, sets a pretty high bar in terms of personal conviction, and has rather immediate and definitive term limits as an immediate side effect.

            They aren’t generals leading us into an existential war, we can stand a bit of turnover and still manage to get the roads paved and keep the lights on.

          2. Bring back the tar and feathers.

          3. We could run the politicians out of town on rails, and it wouldn’t matter. The Deep State abides.

            1. Police officers could choke a man to death on international media not for actively committing a crime but for having violated cigarette tax law at some arbitrary point in the past. Government representatives could stand up in the legislature and point out that meaningless laws like this will be enforced at the point of a gun and will get people killed. And nothing else will happen.

      2. And if it doesn’t meet its projected goal, every Congressman who voted for it is immediately removed from office and the position goes vacant until the next election.

        1. An excellent way to make Congress co-conspirators with the agencies in cooking the books.

          1. “make”

            ???????

            That train has sailed.

    3. And before any law is passed each member of congress must sign an oath that they read Every.Single.Word.

      1. And all bills must pass judicial review BEFORE being signed into law.

      2. each member of congress must sign an oath that they read Every.Single.Word

        And they would never lie, because they take oaths soooo seriously. /sarc

    4. That would be amazing. Which, of course, ensures that it would never happen.

  10. This, in one post, is why I think the jabber about a libertarian moment is some combination of naivete, ignorance, and deflection.

    1. The Federal Government, only counting nominative pages added to the CFR, out-published Reason at, whaddyathink, a 100:1 page ratio?

      1. Including Commentariat ruminations?

  11. So…

    Wouldn’t a reasonable person think that after 220+ years the county would have enough laws already? Shouldn’t all the problems have been solved by now?

    Or should they just keep going until they control every aspect of being human?

    1. We have more laws than we have people.

      But laws are good. Every citizen should personally have thousands. Maybe even millions.

  12. boo hoo hoo, we can’t eat all the swordfish to extinction.

  13. wow, i love this article so much ceiling fans. I just bookmark this website, it’s helpful for me

  14. its all most high-paying, government jobs being created. not good That would be amazing. lol

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