You Know It's Bad When Even The Feds Give Up

You know it's getting bad when even the Feds give up trying to get things done under the weight of burdensome federal regulations.

One example of that that's costing American taxpayers billions of dollars: Getting rid of surplus government buildings.

Government estimates suggest there may be 77,000 empty or underutilized buildings across the country. Taxpayers own them, and even vacant, they’re expensive. The Office of Management and Budget believes these buildings could be costing taxpayers $1.7 billion a year.

...when an agency knows it has a building it would like to sell, bureaucratic hurdles limit it from doing so. No federal agency can sell anything unless it’s uncontaminated, asbestos-free and environmentally safe. Those are expensive fixes.

Then the agency has to make sure another one doesn’t want it. Then state and local governments get a crack at it, then nonprofits — and finally, a 25-year-old law requires the government to see if it could be used as a homeless shelter.

Many agencies just lock the doors and say forget it.

More nations have failed because of bureaucratic inertia and obstructionism than invasion or rebellion. (I include economic collapse as part of the bureaucratic destruction of nations.) When the federal government is hamstrung by its own regulations it's a signal that it's time to go after them with an ax and start repealing them wholesale. Too many of them were put in place to please rent-seeking lobbyists looking to restrict or eliminate competition.

Knowing the nature of the present administration, it is more likely this regulatory stranglehold will become worse and that little effort will be made to rein it in until another occupant sits in the Oval Office, one who is not a Big Government proponent, Democrat or Republican.

One method that might be considered to lessen this perpetual increase in regulatory burden is a sunset provision for each rule and regulation, and a non-governmental sunset commission to review the rules and regulations approaching their sunset date. The commission would be made up of ordinary citizens not beholden to any government representative or influence group. If a rule or regulation no longer makes sense (assuming it ever did), then it ceases to exist. If it is still useful and not overreaching, then it goes to Congress for reauthorization. (Congress being saddled with this duty would mean they have less time to figure new ways to spend money we don't have on things we don't need or want. I'd call that a plus for such a scheme.) Some states have used a version of this process with great success.

My home state of New Hampshire used to have a Sunset Commission that reviewed state laws, regulations and rules, and determined which of those no longer made sense, were no longer needed, or were obstructionist or overly punitive in nature. They submitted a list of laws, rules and regulations they determined be no longer in the best interest of the state and its residents to the governor and the legislature. It was then up to them to either modify or repeal them. If memory serves correctly, most were repealed because they had outlived their usefulness or were contradictory to other laws, rules, or regulations. I wish they would bring it back as it served its purpose and did it well.