Congressmen, Senators, State Assemblymen or State Senators, get to make the laws. But once our legislators have taken mighty truths and crafted them into the law of the land, their work is then passed on to the bureaucracy for application and finishing. And if you think people are flat out disgusted with our national and state representatives, it is even worse for the poor woebegone slobs that have to take the fruits of those mighty labors and turn them into annoying rules and regulations. The kinds of things mere citizens such as ourselves have to deal with constantly in our daily lives.
Apparently the long suffering souls who toil daily in our bureaucracies are not happy with the lowly status they enjoy with those they serve. And at least some of them have decided that they're finally going to do something about it. The Environmental Protection Agency, which functions kind of like the California Air Resources Board (CARB) does here locally (wait'll you get a load of the RHNA numbers they're going to hit us with in a couple of years!), has now initiated a contest in hopes of changing those negative perceptions. One where you can win $2,500 in taxpayer dollars for making a video helping them to convince people about the importance of rules and regulations. And they've even made a video introduction for this contest to help you along. It is called Rulemaking Matters! Video Contest Introduction. This video being, of course, an explanation of the rules of the contest. Because rules matter. Click here for further instruction.
Of course, not everyone will follow the simple instructions to make a short and creative video that highlights the importance of government regulations. But wouldn't the world be just so much better a place if people took the time to understood these kinds of things? And then find it in their hearts to comply, rather than cracking wise about it? Here is an example of the kind of inappropriate and uncivil video that won't win you a single penny of the EPA's $2,500.
Now having evolved (or devolved depending on your viewpoint) into a kind of a political agnostic, particularly on the topic of something so inane as party politics as practiced in the State of California, does have its advantages. And one of them is that I can now enjoy reading any old news site I like no matter what their overarching political philosophy. For me it has all become an ala carte political world. I get to take the good and leave the bad behind. You should try it sometime, it is very liberating.
One site I've recently come to enjoy is entitled The Freeman - Ideas On Liberty. Very Libertarian. And as a very nice segue from the video contest detailed above, here is a brief summary of their Fifteen Things to Despise About Government Regulation article, which was posted there on May 11.
1. Laws and regulations may institutionalize bad choices. Example: Farmers in California, enjoying subsidized water prices, grow water-intensive crops such as rice and cotton in desert areas despite endemic water shortages.
2. Special interests lobby the government to get their products or services mandated by regulation. Regulation becomes part of an overall business strategy, and winning advantages a full time job for thousands.
3. Regulations can create (or destroy) entire industries overnight. Corporations, aware of the power of government regulation, lobby Congress for both protection and advantages. Which they often get, and at our expense.
4. Regulations are often the result of compromise, but what is often politically possible may be neither practical nor environmentally friendly.
5. Lobbyists may support regulations to hurt their competition. Influence becomes more important than the public good as market forces become less important than winning regulatory advantages.
6. Regulations can eliminate or alter feedback, which makes the necessary evolution of the peoples' business more difficult.
7. "Hard cases make bad law." All too often regulations are hastily written in response to the public demand that government "do something." Panic legislation can give a kind of permanence to the unfortunate conditions that created it in the first place.
8. Regulations have unintended bad side effects. New laws or regulations may change the incentives people face and encourage them to act in ways lawmakers had not foreseen.
9. Regulators don't bear the costs of their regulations and so have little incentive to ensure benefits outweigh those costs.
10. Public officials are self-interested, and their self-interest may not always be in the public interest. Careers can be advanced by emphasizing the needs of the involved industries over the needs of the taxpayers.
11. Once in place, regulations are very difficult to eliminate.
12. Industries exert enormous influence over the government agencies created to regulate them. Which only serves to solidify the positions of those companies that already dominate the regulated business.
13. Laws and regulations stifle innovation, and reward the same old things.
14. National regulations can create nationwide problems, no matter what the more local needs may be.
15. The existence of regulations and regulatory bodies give people a false sense of security.
I suspect that once the current regime here is Sierra Madre transforms us from being an independent city to one firmly folded into the Sacramento controlled regional planning bureaucracies they are so enamored of, the resulting flurry of outside regulations and rules will make most folks positively dizzy. That is all part of having the responsibilities of local government removed, you know. What used to be done by local people will now be carried out by the regional government and its aligned contractors. With our priorities more often than not coming in a distant second.