Bureaucracy is caused by regulations written to cover every possible human reaction to what the bureaucracy is trying to regulate. The regulations fail. So more and more regulations are written to cover the gaps.
If we changed to a system of auditing and monitoring rather than regulating we would be following both God’s pattern with the TEN Commandments and our Founder’s SHORT Constitution. Making laws less specific and placing the responsibility on the citizens to inform themselves of what is necessary to honor them would be a much more effective approach.
Human behavior cannot be regulated. Yet bureaucracies continually try. Rules written mostly by lawyers try to cover every possible human reaction to what they are trying to regulate. Yet regulations always fail in their objective, so lawyers write more and more regulations in more precise terms to cover the gaps.
Our Federal government now uses over 175,000 pages of regulations trying to regulate the behavior of EACH and EVERY one of us in EVERY way. This is totally misguided. Think about it. God gave us TEN Commandments. Our Founders gave us a SHORT Constitution. God knows how He will enforce the TEN Commandments. And our Founders allowed for a system of courts—much smaller in number than what we have today—to enforce the rules set forth in the SHORT Constitution.
Newt Gingrich in his recent book Understanding Trump
cites the Competitive Enterprise Institute which in 1913 estimated the total cost of compliance to regulations to be $1.8 trillion per year. A family making $49,705 per year sees $14,768—30% of their household budget lost to the cost of regulations embedded in their normal expenditures. Small businesses face costs of over $10,000 per employee for regulatory compliance. And further, according to Newt, Reason
magazine calculated that if regulation had remained at its 1949 level, median household income today would be an inflation adjusted $330,000 per year!
I contend that we should have a system of auditing and monitoring rather than regulating. Follow the pattern of God’s TEN Commandments and our Founder’s SHORT Constitution, and make laws less specific, placing responsibility on the citizen to inform him or herself of what is necessary to honor them.
We do this now with our traffic laws. A school zone law requires we stay at a speed of 20 miles per hour or less. There is no law giving a specific speed such as 15 miles per hour that we must always drive. But we have enforcers called police where a penalty is assessed if we exceed it. It works.
Why could we not do this for almost everything citizens or businesses are faced with. Take the city sign ordinances that require a Houston business placing a sign to go through an extensive bureaucracy to obtain a permit and a sticker for the sign. Can one even imagine the number of stickers and the time and effort to REGULATE all the signs in a city as large as Houston? It is absurd. A simpler solution, less costly to taxpayers and businesses, would be to well publicize the general rules for the size, nature and location of signs and penalize those businesses who violate them. Have a few individuals who roved the city monitoring compliance. Maybe penalize the business with a fine or shut them down for a day or a week the first time. And then increase the dollar penalty or shutdown time more and more for subsequent violations. Those who knew what they needed to do and DID IT would incur no cost. And those who did not would soon not exist. It would be focusing on a result—not bureaucracy and paperwork. The responsibility of complying would be on the business.
A common argument against this idea is that a compliance monitor might dislike a business and for personal reasons shut it down. But of course, this is happening now when one goes through the MANY people one must go through to obtain a permit. A simple solution here would be to have another possibly more experienced level of monitors, to monitor the monitors.
Some also may argue that monitoring rather than regulating will not work in complex situations. Well, the government could do what business does. Start with what works and go from there. Where there is a will, solutions using rapidly advancing technology will present themselves at time goes on. And most know that the current level of complexity has been created mostly by lawyers who benefit from the current system. Individuals other than lawyers would write the more general laws which the general public could more readily understand.
Businesses would like it because they would avoid the bureaucracy and the loss of time and expense; taxpayers would like it because they would avoid paying taxes for the salaries of unnecessary bureaucrats; and the auditors or monitors would like it because their job would now be more enjoyable because they would be using more of their own good judgment instead of just robotically applying regulations.
A good source of auditors and monitors would be the most unused resource in America today. Retired American citizens. And this resource would be available in large numbers. Talk to many of the retired. When they first retire they play golf or do other things they have wanted to do for a long time. But after a while, they wish to do something more useful and maybe make a small amount of extra money without a long-term time commitment. Many would like to give back to a country that has provided them with freedom all of their lives. And these individuals would often be highly skilled with a wealth of experience in certain areas. That experience and those skills are all now being wasted through nonuse. They would be perfect as monitors in the areas of their expertise. And a plus would be that at that age they are usually more mellow and easy to work with and would employ their wealth of common sense judgment. No pensions would be needed and the pay could be adequate but not enormous, saving taxpayers money.
Auditing or monitoring each American’s behavior rather than regulating them to death would reduce government expenditures, save each of us much time and money and would make for happier American citizens.