The Case for Modernized Governance
Government, as originally intended, vested all “legislative Powers herein…in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” In theory, this means that Congress alone must pass law. The drafters of the Constitution envisioned each branch of government having a specified role. For Congress, this was making law. That role was not given to the executive or judicial branches. In practice, however, Congress has delegated rulemaking authority to executive agencies (for example, the EPA, Department of Transportation, etc.) to create rules, which have the force and effect of law, for the tasks that Congress has given them. These agencies, which are run by unelected officials, then make laws in the form of regulations.
The result has been disastrous. These agencies make a lot of laws. So many that it is impossible to keep track of them all. In 2021, there were 3,257 final rules in the federal register. The Code of federal regulations consisted of 185,984 pages. The estimated regulatory costs were $1.927 trillion. To make matters worse, these agencies enforce these regulations in their own internal administrative tribunals and the courts give deference to the agency’s interpretation of the law. As a result, these administrative agencies are extremely powerful. Given the number of laws and the inability to read the minds of the agency personnel who interpret these laws, it is impossible for citizens to truly know they are complying with the law. And, even for those who do their best to try, the costs imposed by those regulations only serve to stifle economic growth.
The federal administrative state has gotten so out of control that even criminal penalties can be attached to federal regulations. There are up to 300,000 regulations that have criminal penalties. No citizen can be aware of this many crimes that span across numerous federal government agencies and subject matters. This means many citizens are unknowingly committing crimes and risk the strong arm of the law.
The problems with the overregulated society are not limited to those directly subject to the regulations. One study, according to the abstract, found that “the poorest households spend larger proportions of their incomes on heavily regulated goods and services prone to sharp price increases” and that “consumer prices are a probable consequence of heavy regulation.” In other words, the costs of oversized government fall disproportionately on those who can least afford them. According to the Heritage Foundation, permitting schemes and environmental regulations “needlessly contribute[s] to higher production costs” which raises the price of gas. In short, more regulation means more effort to comply, which means more resources and higher transaction costs (i.e., opportunity costs). In a strict financial sense, the more money spent by the producer of goods or services, the more expensive the goods or services are for the consumer. In addition, the risk imposed serves as a deterrent to pursuing activities that would otherwise be beneficial to society.
Modernized governance would mean a government that better serves the American citizen. It asks for the government to be restrained, with limited opportunities for arbitrary decision-making, which would allow citizens to go about their lives with the ability to make informed choices for themselves, their families, and their communities. It also seeks to restore the democratic process by returning the authority to make laws to the hands of those who are elected by the citizens. It is about simplicity, efficiency, and accountability.