The Cost of Freedom?
In all of the proposed solutions to all of our perceived problems it is difficult to find any suggestion that the size and scope of the government is in any way the problem, at least from the main two presidential candidates on offer. Most of the arguments revolve around percentages of how much larger we should make government programs, how funds should be allocated, or what programs should be abandoned in favor of programs that will surely, definitely work and will miraculously save the taxpayer money.
An unnerving lack of concern over government intrusion into the lives of the body politic has descended on the Republic. There are surely many reasons for this, but one may be that we, as a people, have become accustomed to the intrusions. The government has become such an omnipresent fact of life that we simply don’t notice it. We don’t recognize or think about just how many seemingly insignificant ways the government and its policies add up to a massive impact on our daily lives.
So just how intrusive is the government on a daily basis in the life of an ordinary American? How much impact do government policies have on your average day? What follows is a list of some things a normal person deals with every day, and which government agencies or regulatory/legislative bodies are involved in some step of the process. The list will not be exhaustive. Feel free to add to the list in the comments.
Just getting ready: water is regulated by the EPA under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the individual state’s Department of Health (or comparable agency), and a city/county water department. State and local authorities are required by Federal law to follow EPA standards for over 90 different contaminants. Your toothpaste and mouthwash contain fluoride? Requires FDA approval, plus must be properly labeled. Deodorant and other cosmetics don’t require approval unless they contain color additives, which do require it. However, if you use an antiperspirant or anti-dandruff shampoo or any moisturizer with SPF numbers, well that’s a drug. It requires approval. Your toilet cannot be over a maximum flush volume of 1.6 gallons, per the Energy Policy Act of 1994. The Department of Energy says your showerhead flow rate cannot exceed 2.5 gallons per minute at 80 psi. It is, in fact, a federal crime to even MANUFACTURE a showerhead in the U.S. with a higher flow rate.
BREAKFAST: every single thing in your kitchen you didn’t grow yourself or buy from the old guy out of the back of his truck at the farmer’s market is regulated by the FDA and/or the USDA. Furthermore, the stuff that stuff is made from is affected by the Agriculture Act, aka the Farm Bill. Bacon? Regulated from the how the hog is raised and what it’s fed to how the bacon is cured, packed, dated, and labeled. Government regulations and subsidies affecting the price of corn, soybeans, wheat, sugar, salt, all have an impact on the cost of a pound of bacon. The hog itself, from hoof to table, is regulated by both the USDA and the FDA along with various offshoots under their aegis. That’s just your bacon. All of that applies to your milk, your eggs, all of it is regulated at every step. Oh, where you keep that bacon is also regulated. Refrigerator efficiency standards are regulated by the DOE.
DRIVING: where to begin? Your vehicle is regulated by the EPA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and your state motor vehicle agency in the form of a license and some form of insurance to drive it (a couple of states will take a fee in lieu of insurance, but you’re still paying) plus vehicle registration. The roads are paid for and maintained through taxes, which you’re paying even if you don’t drive, with the state or local governments maintaining them. The fuel you use is regulated by the EPA, whether by forced additives or forced removal of pollutants to make it burn cleaner with fewer emissions. The local authorities can, of course, slap a fee on you for going three miles faster than some arbitrary speed they’ve decided you should be driving, and another for not wearing a seatbelt or talking on your phone or not using your blinker or having a tail light out.
You’re only out of your driveway. We didn’t even cover if you turned on your television or computer (FCC) or perhaps own a pet (local licensing laws, breed specific bans). Every single item in your house is subject to government oversight on its manufacture (or at least importation) and sale. At every step there are OSHA regulations to be met, Federal and state and local taxes to be paid. And at all those steps the bulk of that cost is passed on to the consumer, with the people passing and enforcing the regulations paid by the taxpayer. Whatever you use to heat and cool your home is regulated and taxed at every step. The very air you breathe is effectively controlled from Washington.
I know what you’re thinking. “How can you be against clean air and water and safe cars?” That isn’t the point. The point is the accumulation of all of these things leading to a citizenry that no longer even notices when the government decides to cede control of internet oversight to foreign powers, or whose reaction to ever larger scandals of the abuse of government power is a collective “meh.” We don’t realize that every one of those agencies employs thousands of people with a vested economic interest in the government never getting smaller. More laws in the name of safety lead to more regulations leading to more regulators. A thousand small cuts have bled us to the point that we haven’t the strength left to even be bothered to notice, until one day we do, but it’s too late.
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Just a gaggle of people from all over who have similar interests and loud opinions mixed with a dose of humor. We met on Twitter.