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Are We Over Regulated?

(Photo by David Hallett/Getty Images)

One of the most often heard complaints from companies’ choosing to locate overseas, is excessive government regulations and taxes. There seems to be a fine line between government policies directed at protecting the public and government acting like an overprotective parent.

There have been five great inventions in the past 100 years — the automobile, airplane, telephone, electricity and radio/TV. All were created by private industry; and the Federal Government regulates all in some way.

Government Overreaction

In some ways, government seems to be very good at closing the barn door long after the horse has left. Take the case of Richard Reid, the shoe bomber. Thanks to that young man you have to remove your shoes at the airport. Has there been another shoe bomb found? No.

Next we move to the “underwear bomber,” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Thanks to him you are subject to a full body search, a pat down, or, until they removed them, a full body X-ray.

The TSA found themselves between a rock and a hard place regarding the airport x-ray scanners. They were unable to develop software quickly that would only show suspicious objects on passengers.

Instead TSA viewers got a fully nude look at each passenger prompting privicy issues. There was also a possiblity of low levels of X-rays that could be a danger to some passengers so the scanners were taken out of airports across the country.

Not sure what the cost of building them and them scraping them cost taxpayers but I’m guessing it was substantial.

Dodd-Frank Regulations

I was talking to a banker friend recently about the effect of Dodd-Frank on local banks. He related two Dodd-Frank regulations that the bank had violated.

The first was not putting the full account number on bank statements. The bank felt that just putting the last four digits of the account number would protect the depositor if the statement was lost or misplaced. Dodd-Frank says no. Full account numbers only.

Second, the bank has a display board in the lobby that lists the various returns on CD’s and other financial instruments. What was the bank violation you ask? They used three decimal places to show interest rates instead of two, as Dodd-Frank requires.

Medicare and Medicaid

My wife works with the mentally disabled. One of her clients needed a wheelchair and a walker from Medicaid. Both were submitted and both were approved. But according to Medicaid regulations they could not be delivered on the same day. I’m sure if I thought about it long enough I could find a sensible explanation for this.

Some Final Thoughts

There are many regulations that make sense. I don’t want to paint them all with a bad brush. Speed limits, drinking age, driving age, signing contracts are all reasonable regulations to protect us.

Some of the ones I’ve detailed above I’m not so sure about. What regulations drive you up the walls??

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