Do more regulations equal more safety? Regulatory overload is assured when too many or too detailed rules swamp business. “The effects of these regulations are reduced compliance, less innovation, and increased uncertainty.
Often regulators “try to address a wide range of industries and situations by writing very detailed ‘command-and-control’ or prescriptive rules,” the Center study said.
The Feds now even have rules to protect the hearing of musicians. Although it is likely too late for the ear-drum-shattering concerts for young people, the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) now has rules to protect the hearing of orchestra musicians. The new policy declares that simple earplugs are insufficient. Very quietly, OSHA issued a new regulation. “Employees must use administrative or engineering controls rather than personal protective equipment…”
“The length and legalistic language of the regulations make it hard for businesses to decipher if, or how, these rules apply to them,” said the study.
Take ObamaCare, aka the Affordable Care Act (ACA). A couple of Mercatus scholars, after examining the initial rules, concluded that “the federal government used a fast-track process of regulatory analysis that failed to comply with its own standards, and produced poorly substantiated claims about the ACA’s benefits and costs”—including an upward bias for benefits, a downward bias for costs, and numerous material omissions. Little wonder for a law that contains the phrase “the Secretary [of HEW] shall” 1,563 times.
When regulations are excessive, “especially command-and control rules, businesses may respond by becoming more rigid and reactive.” Businesses become preoccupied with following the rules and fail to pursue innovative solutions. The failure to innovate leads to more mistakes, which leads to more regulations, less innovation, less safety, more mistakes, another round of rules and on and on…
According to Mercatus, “The way regulatory analysis is supposed to work is like this: Define the problem, identify the desired outcome, consider alternatives, assess trade-offs, define and measure progress.”
The failure of the regulation-packed Dodd-Frank law has been that it has been “a massive roadblock to our economic recovery,” said Chairman Spencer Backus (R-AL), House Finance Committee chairman. “Its 400 regulatory mandates create an atmosphere of uncertainty in which innovators and job creators can’t put their ideas and capital to work to better protect citizens and the environment.” “Regulators write ever more and more prescriptive rules,” but expanding the regulatory code has the opposite effect: making Americans “less safe.”
It, too, was a classic case of: Ready, fire, aim.
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