In his post below Mitch Kokai points to the absurdity in the claim that imposing a fee on businesses to pay for the governmental administrative costs of regulations is simply offsetting a business subsidy. Mitch remains agnostic on whether or not this is a good idea. His purpose is simply to point out the bastardization of the English language that is entailed in suggesting that government costs associated with implementing a regulation is somehow a subsidy to the industry being regulated. The fact of the matter is that a regulation is a form of taxation and it is no more logical to claim that the costs of administering a regulation is a subsidy to businesses than it is to claim that the costs of running the IRS is a subsidy to taxpayers and therefore should be offset by a filing fee for submitting your annual income tax forms.

But we can take this further than Mitch did and argue that while user fees such  as those that might be in place for entrance into a public park or museum make sense, they are completely inappropriate when paying for the administrative costs of regulations. Since regulations are presumed to be a public good where the beneficiary is supposed to be society as a whole then, logically, the administrative costs of regulations should in fact be paid for by the public at large. In fact, particularly in cases where the regulation is not meant to prevent direct harm to others, such as zoning and land use regulations,  I believe that a case can be made, based on this same logic, that all the costs associated with the regulation should be paid for via taxpayers at large, possibly through a tax credit for the costs of these regulations. It is only in this way that the public can get a sense of whether the benefits of regulations are actually worth the costs.