by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor | John Locke Foundation
Along with being one of the greatest documents for human liberty ever created, the Declaration of Independence provided an extensive list of how King George III had abused and usurped Great Britain’s American subjects’ rights under God and the law. One of those charges decried the economy-crippling harassment of the people by the king’s bureaucratic functionaries. The Declaration stated:
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
My recent column in The Daily Caller laments “our great shame that those words so accurately depict the regulatory apparatus of the United States of America now.” Complying with regulatory burdens destroys wealth rather than grows it, as I explained:
Regulatory compliance requires lots of paperwork, takes many would-be profitable transactions and renders them infeasible or not worthwhile, and often requires businesses to add expensive new equipment or systems. In other words, it wastes productive labor and capital on busy work and bureaucracy that has zero to little economic value for a business or its would-be customers. The business bears the costs of compliance directly; its potential customers, indirectly. It is a textbook example of what economists call “deadweight loss,” a form of wealth destruction.
Who upon reading “swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance” doesn’t think of Biden’s 87,000 new IRS agents?
Just how much of our substance do federal regulations consume? I wrote:
The 2022 edition of Clyde Wayne Crews’ annual snapshot of the federal regulatory state, “Ten Thousand Commandments,” estimated that the total cost of federal regulations on the Nation’s economy was $1.927 trillion. If that was a country’s GDP, it would beat out Italy as the eighth largest economy in the world. Crews estimated that households essentially paid “$14,684 annually on average in a hidden regulatory tax.”
What’s worse, however, is that the Biden administration seeks to weaponize the regulatory state against the people. Case in point: who upon reading “swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance” doesn’t think of Biden’s 87,000 new IRS agents?
Crews noted that “Biden’s repudiation of the Trump deregulatory agenda is thorough.” My article included several examples outside of Biden’s functionaries removing even such beneficial deregulatory measures as “one-in/two-out” rulemaking (making agencies retire two old rules before adding a new one) and sunset with periodic review: