March 10, 2008
The Cost of Everything Else
By James Wilson
Today's Downsizer-Dispatch . . . Quote of the Day:

“In the republic’s early days the kind of intrusive, detailed rules so prevalent today simply didn’t exist. In the years since, the creep of new regulations has resulted in an unwieldy mass of expensive rules that attempt to control things which would have shocked the Founding Fathers.” - Clyde Wayne Crews, Jr.

Subject: The Cost of Everything Else

In 2007, over 53% of the federal budget went to mandatory entitlements and welfare spending, and 20% to the Department of Defense. About 9% went to interest payments on the national debt. And just 18% went to Everything Else, from the FDA to Homeland Security to foreign aid. Source: Congressional Budget Office

To clean up America's fiscal mess, we will have to think about entitlement reform and a new, more efficient national security strategy. Steep budget cuts for Everything Else will help, but only a little. There's a better reason to cut Everything Else: these departments and programs tend to do more harm than good. A lot more.

Here are just a few examples. Ethanol subsidies increase the price of food. Non-violent drug offenders waste away in federal prison when they could be in the workforce. Public education has deteriorated greatly as the federal government has assumed more and more control. And then there's the cost of regulation . . .

As Clyde Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute wrote last year, federal regulations cost the economy $1.14 trillion in 2006. That is more than what individuals paid in income taxes that year. It was more than total corporate profits. And it cost the federal government just $41 billion to administer and police the regulatory state. Source: Competitive Enterprise Institute  

That is to say, for every $1 the federal government spends writing and enforcing regulations, it destroys $25 that could have been generated in the economy. The cost of regulatory compliance hurts small businesses especially, destroys competition, and drives up prices.

But the worst part is, "we the people" generally have no say. In 2006, 321 bills were passed by Congress and signed into law, whereas unelected bureaucrats in regulatory agencies issued 3,718 final rules and added almost 75,000 pages to the Federal Register.

The Constitution requires that Congress, not executive branch agencies, make the laws. If the people's representatives in Congress can't or won't sweat the details of writing complicated regulations, then why should the people have to sweat the details of complying with them?. If Congress had to write all laws and regulations, only the most necessary would pass, and the number of unnecessary and burdensome regulations will drop dramatically. To restore the Constitutional Separation of Powers, increase the freedom of the people, and revive the economy, has introduced the Write the Laws Act.

Please tell your Representative and Senators to pass the Write the Laws Act. Tell them that legislation by executive branch agencies is unconstitutional. And point out that the cost of regulations is taking away a trillion dollars from the economy. You can do so here.

Thank you for being a DC Downsizer.


James Wilson
Assistant to the President
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