Regulation is a hidden tax that in many cases raises the cost of creating jobs and generating wealth. Here are some staggering numbers.
- Americans spend 8.8 billion hours every year filling out government forms.
- The economy-wide cost of regulation is now $1.75 trillion.
- For every bureaucrat at a regulatory agency, 100 jobs are destroyed in the economy’s productive sector.
But those numbers probably don’t mean anything because they are so large. So let’s look at an example of regulation run amok. Here are some of the details from a report at the Daily Caller.
It could cost U.S. employers between $2 billion and $4 billion to comply with an obscure Americans with Disabilities Act regulation meant to protect workers who are gun-shy in public restrooms. According to an informal discussion letter the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued in August 2011, “paruresis” — more commonly known as “shy bladder syndrome” — qualifies as a disability under the amended Americans with Disabilities Act. …If every employer large enough to be subject to the ADA were to hedge against future lawsuits by adding segregated restrooms for timid tinklers, the cost would exceed the gross domestic product of many small nations. …Failure to comply with EEOC regulations could open businesses up to potential lawsuits from shy leakers because, according to the commission, employers must provide reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities. The EEOC reports that the median cost of complying with an ADAAA-covered disability is just $240 – substantially less than the thousands of dollars it could cost to accommodate a social phobia by building a new bathroom.
I’m not a big fan of going to the bathroom in front of other people, so I’m not unsympathetic to those who don’t like crowded public restrooms. And I certainly can sympathize with those who don’t like having to pee in a cup for a silly drug test.
But I also believe in common sense, and that’s one thing that’s often missing at regulatory agencies. If you think this story is out of character, then consider these examples.
- Putting a store out of business for selling toy guns.
- Regulations making it difficult for trucking firms to weed out drunk drivers.
- Year-long sting operations by federal milk police.
- Rules harassing coffee shops with bikini-clad sales staff.
- OSHA requirements for expensive safety harnesses for people working 11 feet off the ground.
Gee, it’s almost enough to make you think regulation is part of the problem, not the solution.