Government regulation can be excessive

Published 11:31 am Monday, December 12, 2016

Our View

Excessive government regulations are frequent targets of those who worry about the nation’s ability to prosper in a highly competitive world. The complaint isn’t that all regulations are bad. We need food safety rules, medical standards and thousands of other public protections that encourage happy and productive lives.
The real question may be how far should the government go in trying to dictate exactly how everything is done. This is a core issue for virtually every business and certainly for health care. Yes, one of the functions of government is to protect citizens. But, some regulations have been carried to a degree that often defies common sense and has clearly frustrated many Americans, who would like to see a return to reasonable regulations and fewer federal bureaucracies.
But today one just has to look around to realize that government, at every level — federal, state, and local — is, with increasing regularity, inserting itself into every aspect of our lives. Whether it’s our bedroom, our wallet, our medicine cabinet, or our refrigerator, there seems no area of our life that lawmakers don’t believe it is their business to regulate according to their morals, judgment, preferences, or whims.
The effects of excessive regulations are widespread. For example, local bankers say that many recent regulations are making it more difficult to help worthy borrowers. In fact, just about any business that normally seeks workers for good jobs can tell stories about how hard it is to deal with government rules that are roadblocks to sensible decisions.
We are all familiar with the stories about cities and towns that have shut down children’s lemonade stands for lack of a business permit. But did you know that more than 50 cities actually prohibit you from giving food for free to the homeless? This includes such liberal bastions as Atlanta, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Seattle.
We’ve also heard much about former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to ban or regulate large sodas, salt and trans fats. But New York City is not alone in telling us what we should eat. San Francisco, for instance, has outlawed McDonald’s Happy Meals. New York City, which doesn’t much like Happy Meals either, is considering regulations setting standards for fat, sodium and calories, and requiring that Happy Meals include a serving of fruit, vegetable, or whole grains.
Silly laws also still exist in Tennessee state codes.
Like a lot of other locations across this great nation, Tennessee retains many legal rules, legislation and regulations that reflect backward thinking far behind the times. Below is a brief list with a few examples.
• Students may not hold hands at school
• Sharing your Netflix password is a criminal offense in Tennessee
• Posting online images that case “emotional distress” without a “legitimate purpose” is a crime
• Horse-stealing is still a capital offense in Tennessee
• Engaging in oral sex is technically prohibited by Tennessee state law
• Interracial marriages are illegal in Tennessee
• Skunk importation is an illegal act in Tennessee
Too many lawmakers, and too many voters, subscribe to the adage, “There ought to be a law.” That which is good should be mandatory; that which is bad should be banned.
Granted, some regulations directed at businesses are needed and have been good overall. But the power to tell others how to live their lives is irresistible for many in government, and there has been overreach by some government agencies.
Today, the U.S. government has an “alphabet agency” for just about everything. The nanny state feels like it has to watch, track and tightly control virtually everything that we do.
Congress needs to strike at the root and finally make good on promises to reduce the size of government and eliminate unnecessary and burdensome regulatory agencies so that they are not able to issue their diktats in the first place.
The new Trump administration has promised to carefully examine regulations and executive orders, weeding out those that don’t fit their views on the role of government. We wish it well.

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