Monday, December 26, 2011

Regulatory Rantings

In the fall of 2007, I traveled with my then 11 year old daughter to New Hampshire to experience the thrill of retail politicking at its roots (  I think she took the political experience to heart, and now she has stolen a page from the GOP playbook to debate her father and mother.

Dear Mom and Dad,

As part of my education, I try to remain current on the issues of the day, and I have been reading quite a lot about how federal regulations are killing growth in this country.  If not for all the rules imposed on our economy over the past 3 years, businesses would be hiring and people everywhere across America would be happy and productive.  All this talk about rules and regulations ruining the country got me thinking about my situation.  For the past 3 years, my ability to succeed and grow and blossom has been stifled by the evil hand of a dictatorial regime that imposed burdensome rules without regard for their  negative impact.  Just like Obama has done across America, your overregulations have destroyed my ability to innovate and win my future.

I know you think my plea for decreased regulation over my daily life is just the rantings of an angst-ridden teenager.  Not true!  I know that according to the World Bank, businesses in U.S. face the 5th lightest regulatory burden among those in 183 nations.  Like those businesses, however, the regulations don’t feel so light when they are on YOUR back.  You have got loosen the restraint of rules and unleash my God-given potential.  The Invisible Hand that guides me towards the best results in life cannot function when you smother it in a glove of curfews and conditions.

I tell my friends that President Obama and my parents have one very important thing in common – they have increased regulations four-fold in a 3 year period, and it is wrongheaded and counterproductive to growth.  I know that Obama has done this terrible thing because Mitt Romney has said so many times.  You don’t believe that because Romney’s campaign has already come public and admitted that Mitt Romney “misspoke” when he made that claim.   Romney may be making up things as he goes, but that doesn’t change the fact that your regulatory oversight on my bedtime and homework completeness kills my competitive spirit.  How can I win with all these rules?

I know that you’ll come back and say that the “experts” don’t agree that overregulation is holding back me or American business.  But dear parents, can you really rely on the determinations of those pro-regulatory groups like the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Federation of Independent Business, the New York Times, the AP, the Economic Policy Institute, and the Wall Street Journal?  Just because they all agreed that regulations in this country are not holding back U.S. economic growth doesn’t prove that your arbitrary “curfews” and “emphasis on grades” aren’t holding back my personal growth.  Common sense does not need independent verification.

I am tired of your argument that without constant demand, there is no growth.  Consumers demand products, and the economy grows.  You demand chores done, it does not follow that I grow as a person.  It’s not demand – it’s regulations!  I know this because I said it, repeatedly.

I have read that during Obama’s first three years, the number of regulations and the cost of those regulations is actually less than President George W. Bush’s regulations and costs at the same point in his tenure.  No one complained back then.  You have said a similar thing, that the rules on my behavior are no different than they were 3-6 years ago.  Times are different now, however.  I am a teenager with different needs to profit from my youthful irrational exuberance.  Forcing me to look both ways before crossing the street like I used to do years ago just slows me down and limits my potential to reach the other side.  Take your foot off the brake and watch me soar!
If these regulatory burdens are not diminished, I will be forced to consider membership in YAEGER – Youths Against Excessive Grownup Educational Regulations.  This club is dedicated to stamping out parental rules that stifle the free market of teenage ideas and youthful innovation.  I need friends that will invest in my future.  With all these regulations on my behavior, my social circle may take their time investments elsewhere, like to the Chinese kids in my AP classes.  I can’t let that happen, and hopefully you won’t let that happen either. 

I anxiously await your patriotic reply.

Your Loving Daughter

Dear Loving Daughter,
Not all regulations and rules that we have put in place for you are bad.  Some actually protect you, keep you safe, and will pay off in the long term.  If you have specific regulations on your behavior that you would like us to review, please lay them out in a coherent, logical fashion so we can discuss.  This knee jerk aversion to all regulations, and your exaggeration of their quantity and negative impact on behavior, is counterproductive and makes you look childish.

We want what is best, and if you have another plan that meets the goal of protecting you and encouraging your growth and development, please present it.  Otherwise, follow the laws we have set.  Someone has to be the adult, and I guess until you prove otherwise, it will have to be us.

Parenthood has consequences.  Tough luck.

Your Loving Parents
The Rational Ones


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