Americans often express astonishment when they learn that many of the nation’s laws — the bulk of its “regulations” — have not been written by Congress. Though the Constitution grants to Congress alone the power to legislate, Congress cedes most of that power to Executive Branch bureaucracies.
Last Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul hosted a panel on government regulatory abuse. Covering this “round table” discussion, Lou Dobbs, the Fox anchorman, interviewed Sen. Paul, and the two highlighted a number of regulatory horror stories:
- A man from Hungary was put in jail for three years for cleaning up an illegal dump that had been put onto land that he had purchased.
- A family was harassed for raising rabbits without a license — fined $3,000,000 but given the out of a mere $90,000 fine if they paid within 30 days by credit card.
- Members of another family found themselves face to face with EPA bureaucrats, who halted their housing project, demanded costly site restoration, and charged them with criminal liability for not immediately complying.
The law that’s directed against this latter family, by the way, “is about wetlands,” which, Rand Paul informs us, Congress has never enacted laws about: “‘Wetlands’ is something defined into existence by regulatory agencies.”
In The Road to Serfdom F. A. Hayek showed how undemocratic and abusive “central planning” becomes. Apparently, even without a grand, overarching plan, regulation of the micro-managing kind navigates the same path.
Demand more “regulation”? Expect arbitrary judgment and unreasonable requirements — tyranny — as the result.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.