Deroy Murdock‘s latest column highlights the problems created when regulators regulate.

When EPA, FCC, and OSHA staffers go to work, they regulate. If, instead, they cruised Facebook, bought novels on Amazon, or enjoyed Internet pornography (as SEC employees were caught doing) they would neglect their taxpayer-funded duties.

So, these functionaries occupy their desks and concoct fresh ways to enforce the 169,301-page U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. Thus, Salt Lake City’s Davis High School got socked with a $15,000 fine. While campus administrators followed federal rules and disabled a cafeteria soft-drink vending machine during lunch, they forgot to unplug another soda machine in the book store.

Brigades of federal busybodies perpetrate such nonsense — all of which springs, at least loosely, from laws enacted by congresses and presidents of both parties, spanning decades. Non-Pentagon, executive-branch, civilian employment shrank 11.5 percent under President Bill Clinton, from 1,274,000 to 1,127,000. It then boomed 14.4 percent under Republican socialist George W. Bush. Between 2008 and 2010, Democratic socialist Barack Obama has expanded this headcount 5.5 percent — from 1,289,000 to 1,360,000.

While many of these federal employees do not regulate, per se, some 281,000 of them do, up 13 percent under Obama, estimates John Merline of Investors Business Daily. According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Clyde Wayne Crews, these officials imposed 3,807 brand-new rules in 2011, or 15 every federal business day. These new regulations filled 81,247 mind-numbing pages in last year’s Federal Register.