Choosing decline: Our insane, hyper-regulatory state

The hyper-regulatory state is unrepublican. It strikes at one of the most basic pillars of free society: equality before the law. When you replace “law” with “regulation,” equality before it is one of the first casualties. In such a world, there is no law, only a hierarchy of privilege more suited to a sultan’s court than a self-governing republic. If you don’t want to be subject to “tooth-level surveillance,” you better know who to call in Washington. Teamsters Local 522 did, and the United Federation of Teachers, and the Chicago Plastering Institute. And as a result they’ve all been “granted” ObamaCare “waivers.” Rule, Obama! Obama, waive the rules! If only for his cronies. Americans are being transferred remorselessly from the rule of law to rule by an unaccountable bureaucracy of micro-regulatory preferences, subsidies, entitlements and incentives that determine which of the multiple categories of Unequal-Before-The-Law Second-Class (or Third-Class, or Fourth-Class) Citizenship you happen to fall into.

And yet Americans put up with it. According to the Small Business Administration, the cost to the economy of government regulation is about $1.75 trillion per annum. You and your fellow citizens pay for that – and it’s about twice as much as you pay in income tax. Or, to put it another way, the regulatory state sucks up about a quarter-trillion dollars more than the entire GDP of India. As fast as India’s growing its economy, we’re growing our regulations faster. Oh, well, you shrug, it would be unreasonable to expect the bloated, somnolent hyperpower to match those wiry little fellows back at the call center in Bangalore. Okay. It’s also about a quarter-trillion dollars more than the GDP of Canada. Every year we’re dumping the equivalent of a G7 economy into ever more ludicrous and wasteful regulation.