Democrats: Dealing with the Bureaucracy Is a Real Burden!
July 26, 2013
North Carolina has passed a voter-ID law, about which the National Review editors have a good line:
The new law simply requires that voters present a state-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license or the similar ID that the state issues to non-drivers. Other forms of identification not subject to the same documentation and security standards — such as student IDs and work IDs — are not acceptable under the new law. It is really something to watch the Democrats treat a trip to the DMV as an unbearable burden: Under Democratic initiatives, everything from a trip to the doctor’s office to opening a business requires or will require running a bureaucratic gauntlet indistinguishable from a trip to the DMV.
The real-world cost (in time and money) of complying with the government’s voluminous* regulations doesn’t seem to occur to the regulators and intellectuals—it’s all a big abstraction to them, as Stephen Carter realized when he actually talked to someone on the receiving end of the regulations—unless it’s about voting. When lawmakers try to make it more difficult to commit voter fraud, suddenly liberals remember that government regulations can be burdensome!
Lest I mock the liberals without letting them speak for themselves, read for yourself where North Carolina Democrats said that “by making voters get identification cards, the government is assuming a crime is being committed. ‘The government presumes I’m up to no good and places the burden on me,'” and their state party chairman said, “Voter ID equals voter disenfranchisement” and compared the law to a “horror villain”. WRAL reports on comments pro and con in legislative hearings. WFMY reports that
Democratic leaders in Raleigh see [the voter-ID law] as unnecessary and potentially burdensome on the elderly and the poor.
Durham Mayor Bill Bell told WRAL, “This is going to create a barrier that doesn’t need to be there. I mean, this day and age, we ought to be trying to encourage people to vote and give them opportunity to vote. Not put blockades in front of them.”
* There are now more than 160,000 pages of federal regulations! (Exact figure: 169,301 as of the end of 2011.
U. S. Office of the Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations Actual Page Breakdown (1975 through 2011). See update below.) Just complying with these regulations costs Americans more than a trillion dollars annually—$1.75 trillion in 2008, according to an estimate from the federal government’s own Small Business Administration. (Small Business Administration, “The Impact of Regulatory Costs on Small Firms”, Nicole V. Crain and W. Mark Crain, September 2010, page iv (page 6 of PDF).) Others who attempt to measure the regulatory burden report similar findings. “Current federal regulations plus those coming under Obamacare will cost American taxpayers and businesses $1.8 trillion annually,” according to a study from the Competitive Enterprise Institute. (Washington Examiner,“$1.8 trillion shock: Obama regs cost 20-times estimate”, Paul Bedard, September 20th, 2012.)
Update (July 26th, 2013): The source above (a government Web site) for my claim that there are more than 160,000 pages of federal regulations is no longer a live link. It was when I first used it, here, last October. Now instead consider this Congressional Research Service report: “Counting Regulations: An Overview of Rulemaking, Types of Federal Regulations, and Pages in the Federal Register”, Maeve P. Carey (May 2013). First, a note about using the numbers:
Because the Federal Register has been in print since the 1930s, the number of pages can be useful for crosstime comparisons. However, the total number of Federal Register pages may not be an accurate way to measure regulatory activity for several reasons. . . . In 2011, approximately 32% of the total pages in the Federal Register were in the “Rules and Regulations” section, the section in which final rules are published.
(Italics omitted.) The author offers a longer discussion of what the numbers do and don’t mean on pages 14-16 of the document (17-19 of the PDF). All that said, the number of pages does give some idea of the volume of laws (not even enacted directly by accountable legislators) that Americans are expected to comply with at any given time. By this author’s way of reckoning, the number “has been approximately between 65,000 and 85,000 pages for the past two decades.”