Regulation: The Hidden Tax

Wayne Crews and I have a piece in today’s Sacramento Bee summarizing the main findings of Wayne’s “Ten Thousand Commandments” study. We also point out that regulatory costs are not limited to the $1.75 trillion it takes to comply with them:

The total cost of federal regulation is $1.75 trillion. That’s true in terms of money. But money isn’t everything. Regulation also has opportunity costs. Workers spend millions of man-hours every year filling out forms and following procedures. That time could be spent on other things instead, such as finding ways to lower costs, improve quality and increase worker productivity. When there’s too much regulation, progress and innovation slow down.

There is a second opportunity cost that is often overlooked. Companies don’t sit idly by when regulators propose new rules. They try to influence the process. Most companies, especially larger ones, often favor new regulations in their industries. They will pay lobbyists a lot of money to influence the rules in a favorable way – say, by handicapping a competitor.