How to get rid of excess old regulations

My first post on my recent column didn’t consider that question in the body of the text, for reasons of length.  Here is what I wrote:

Some past deregulatory successes came in “big bang” changes, like the airline deregulation of the 1970s, which shut down the Civil Aeronautics Board. What we need today is the selective pruning of bad regulations. Cost-benefit studies are a good idea, but they tend to be done when we have the worst possible information about the effects of regulations — namely, before the regulations are passed. Furthermore, cost-benefit studies may look only at some of the largest regulations, and not the general problem of regulatory accretion over time.

Better bureaucratic incentives are needed. Agencies are now motivated to generate regulation after regulation, because those are the formal assignments set before them. One possible step forward would be to require agencies to submit plans for retiring some fraction of their regulations over the next few years, and to reward these agencies for seeing this process through.

For a while I toyed with the idea of automatically sunsetting some subset of regulations, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to endorse it.  I like the basic idea, but I worry about the ongoing uncertainty imposed on businesses.  It makes it harder for businesses to make “once and for all” adjustments and may impose an even greater cost on the allocation of attention from top management.  Businesses like certain regulation, partly for good reasons (easier to deal with), and partly for bad (it may hurt smaller competitors even more and keep them out of the market).  Still, to the extent you understand the burden of regulation as about dealing with the regulations, rather than the regulatory mandates per se, the case for sunsetting is not a slam dunk.

Addendum: Some readers have asked me about a reference on the discussion of asthma treatments and medications, try this Cass Sunstein column.

Comments

Wow! I lerned something completely unrelated to this thread reading this thread. First re sunsetting: uncertainty is overweighed by the benefits of getting rid of bad laws, so yes on sunsetting.

"Asthma is a serious problem in the U.S., particularly among the poor." - from Sunstein's article. This explains why it's so common here in the Philippines? But asthma is also genetic. Which predominates? Roach feces trigger asthma attacks. Roaches are common with the poor and their kids even play with the huge 2 inch long roaches. Also the lung clearing drug (which even I who don't have asthma, just an occasional mild allergy, found useful, especially during the rainy season here where all kinds of life forms sprout from the rainwater) that's good is: salbutamol. You need an Rx in the USA (since you can get high) but in these developing countries you simply ask the pharmacy for it and they give it to you.

Also, any discussion should take into account that we have agencies like the Government Accountability Office, but that that agency is routinely ignored, especially when its evidence is strongest.

The GAO routinely issues very good reports about ineffective programs and regulations, and those reports are ignored. So while the point in the op-ed about the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs having only 50 full time staff and a limited budget is well-taken, the GAO has around 2800-2900 FTEs. Like the OIRA, the GAO budget has been affected by cuts in recent years moreso than regulatory bodies and spending programs, I don't mean to diminish that. However, even the best of studies and reports mean little compared to popular, political, and/or institutional bureaucratic support for ineffective programs and regulations.

I'd like to see, e.g., the recent GAO report on the ineffectiveness of TSA behavioral screening have some effect, but unfortunately I have my doubts.

How about a provision where if the GAO finds something useless, it sunsets in 1 year unless specifically renewed by Congress?

It's nowhere near that simple. First of all if congress won't refrain from passing legislation a GAO (empowered to go further beyond narrowly economic issues) determines is essentially useless or even harmful but popular, e.g., an assault weapons ban that leaves equally effective weapons legal, sex-offender registration programs reducing no ones risk but radically increasing recidivism, free trade, or that the government mandated airport screening should be eliminated given lockable cockpits and changes in incentives bc of 9/11. Presumably, congress will be even more likely to ignore then then than they are now (when they have the option of deception by supporting a practically impotent law).

Alright so you suggest giving them real legislative power, say like the power of the English House of Lords which can't defeat a bill but can force it to be considered for 1-2 years before revoting. Or even just letting them force a law to be reauthorized. Such a body would require a constitutional amendment and would exercisce real political power on par with SCOTUS. Even if such a body can't overrule congress but imagine the power of being able to demand obamacare be reauthorized now or forcing a reauthorization vote on hot button issues right before an election.

Either you end up empowering this board with near dictatorial lifetime power expect it to be packed by party loyalists and no better than a congressional subcommittee. The dictatorial choice is the experiment china is trying. The reason the GAO can be so reasonable and evidence driven. Once an organization realize its factual findings will have major real world effects you can expect those findings to shift towards whatever supports the authors policy goals (it's one thing to conclude that increased illegal immigration is exonomically neutral when that does nothing but when you believe we have an equal moral duty to all humans and finding large net costs in enforcement stops the deportation of illegals). Such an institution would be seen as crazily partisan like SCOTUS even if they aren't.

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Having said this one real change that could be made is to inject a GAO type body into the process of issuing regulations. Just the inclusion of people who aren't narrowly charged with achieving one specific type of government policy (protect environment, stopping drug abuse, issueing patents) would help. Forcing the other agencies to submit a report addressing GAO type concerns and get a cabinet level official to sign off on an overruling on public record would prevent the institution to have real power to affect hot button issues and allow them to remain a political while creating a strong pressure on other gov depts to compromise with such an institution.

Unlike the U.S., the government of Taiwan has five branches, one of which (the Control Yuan) is roughly equivalent to our GAO in function, but much more powerful as co-equal with the other branches. We could learn something from them.

The analogous body in France is the Council of State.

I don't think the fact that businesses often like regulations is a good public policy reason for keeping them, particularly if the reason they like the regulations is that they shut out potential competitors!

I think the other objection, that a sunset provision creates uncertainty, is valid, but I wonder if it can be dealt with by making the subset provisions sufficiently long term, say fifty years.

This may appear counterintuitive, but the quickest way to prune is to speed up the rule making process. Some regulations remain on the books because replacing the regulations with something more reasonable is costly relative to the agency's resources, but not relative to the overall public good. The agency, which may be resource constrained, has to choose between correcting and adjusting old regs, or adressesing whatever recently made the news.

Fast track if you're replacing an existing reg? +1

Problem is that you can't really distinguish...you need same process for both. And, say you are replacing a reg for carpeting in airlines with a more general one re flammabilty, you need something to replace the old reg which specified only something du Pont makes.

To a degree, but a lot of what is needed is to put confident, smart people with considerable authority in regulatory drafting positions. A huge share of regulations are left unchanged despite being stale or counterproductive because of bureaucratic inertia that only someone with initiative, a bold agenda, and authority to make changes despite the political friction it may create, can bring about.

Also, it is important to recognize that a lot of regulatory complexity is due to bad legislation - not necessary bad on the merits, but sloppy in "noise creating" ways - e.g. have several very similar but not identical definitions of dependent child in the tax code, each developed in a vacuum but trying to capture that same thing, that must be kept distinct because regulators can't change them.

Giving regulation writers a more formal role in the legislative process might be wise.

I strongly disagree.

A huge number of harmful regs are the result of the narrow focus of the issuing agency.

The tsa was (implicitly at least) tasked with protecting air travel and they issue regs to that end. No one is charged with optimizing utility by making air travel more convienient, cheaper etc... and if they got that balance right they would personally suffer when a rare disaster occured. After all stopping that was their job.

Similarly the EPA isn't charged (in their or the publics mind) with balancing I inconvenience with the harms of species extinction.

Worst of all is the legal/police branches who most certainly see themselves as being at war with the bad guy lawbreakers. This is part of the reason LEOs tend to be anti-legalization/decrim of drugs.

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It's just human nature. You can't ask someone to work hard to do X for years and then about face when making policy and evaluate without bias just how important what they do really is. Imagine you've worked for years enforcing net beneficial laws protecting species X. Now it comes up that by forcing anyone changing land use (farm to housing etc) could do much to save species X. Would anyone in that situation say that even the millions of forms and approvals needed to build apartments, break up a commercial space into a loft etc... ever have so little ego as to say that those millions of tiny inconveniences are more important than the job you've been doing the last decade?

IMHO there's a serious conceptual problem here. "Regulations" often get discussed in terms of pages published in the CFR, or in terms of "rules", a publication in the FR. But what's really at issue is a regulatory provision, which may be a few lines on one page or hundreds of pages spread over several sections of the CFR.

Back in the Carter administration "sunsetting" laws was a popular issue, but events since then have proven it has no staying power.

If Tyler (and his ilk) are not willing to support practical solutions like automatic "sunsetting", then he (they) are just "crying wolf" ...

no one would call for the 'sunsetting' of all computer codes after 5 years ... why should we re-invent the wheel with regulations? of course, we need a (incentivized) way to critically evaluate, scrap and re-work existing regulation (or codes) but an expiration date is naive and wasteful. his non-endorsement of sunset clauses seems pretty responsible to me.

Sunsetting regulations sounds sensible in the abstract, but ridiculous in actual implementation.

Would we want to "sunset" the regulations against lead in paint or gasoline after 5 years??
That is a frankly stupid idea, because the brain-damaging effects of lead ingestion will be no different 5 years from now.

Would we want to "sunset" seat belt and air bag and air pollution control regulations after 5 years??
Do we really think that the laws of physics and the damage boundaries of the human body will change in 5 years.

Talk about automatic "sunset" of regulations is just incoherent anti-government blabber.
Reviewing regulations for cost-effectiveness and attempting to streamline and minimize regulation where ever possible is the difficult and tedious work of government.

"Sunset" regulation is just another sound-bite short-cut, like term limits, that does not survive thoughtful consideration.

When laws are sunset, it is not then against the law to re-enact the same law or to extend the original.

Seems you need to slow down your thinking a bit.

From wikipedia:

"law shall cease to have effect after a specific date, unless further legislative action is taken to extend the law"

Sure you can re-enact the same law.
And you can brush your teeth seven times in the morning if you want to, but it is still ridiculous waste of time and effort.

Similarly, re-enacting the regulations on lead in paint and gasoline every 5 years is a pointless and un-productive endeavor. Funny that "small government" advocates want to make the government waste more time, effort, and money re-inventing the wheel, which worked fine the first time.

And almost all codes and regulations (like building codes, etc.) already have regular review and update cycles. For example the IBC the most common building code is already updated on a 3 year cycle, as a collaborative effort of builders, suppliers, fire officials, etc. Review and update based on new technology and science is sensible, "sunset" is stupid.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Building_Code
"Updated editions of the IBC are published on a three year cycle (2000, 2003, 2006…). This fixed schedule has led other organizations, which produce referenced standards, to align their publishing schedule with that of the IBC[citation needed].
Referenced Standards[edit]
Model building codes rely heavily on referenced standards as published and promulgated by other standards organizations such as ASTM (ASTM International), ANSI (American National Standards Institute), and NFPA (National Fire Protection Association). The structural provisions rely heavily on referenced standards, such as the Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Structures published by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE-7)."

The fact that almost all codes have a review cycle means that sun setting in principle is generally worth while. That includes the lead in paint and gasoline examples since gasoline additives regulation are certainly updated regularly. 5 years is too short a default but that doesn't in.validate the principle

There are other regulations such as flame retardants in furniture that might benefit from a default review of 30 years. http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/Flame-retardant-free-furniture-rare-costly-4299274.php

There just needs to be a proper default. 5 years is too short a default but it isn't that much work to repass regulations

In fact a rolling, 2-10 year review of computer standards might be a very good thing. A way to give people certainty about when to retire old legacy interfaces. It's not as if standards that a working well can't just be renewed.

And sunsetting is exactly that incentivised way to reform rules since it means getting punished for failure when desired rules run out. The US congress might be slow to pass contentious new legislation, but it (like all parliaments) is only too good doing routine stuff that it would be punished for not doing (see "Doc Fix").

@TommyVee are term limits some kind of hippy-dippy-theory that would never work in the real world?

Term limits are an effort by past voters to bind and restrict the choices of future voters.
So over the long term, most term limits will fail for the same reason that actual voters keep re-electing incumbents.

And term limits are another attempted short-cut to avoid doing the difficult and tedious work of participatory democracy, which is making choices on their merits rather than making choices by applying an arbitrary and inflexible rule.

Clearly term limits for US presidents have survived a long time and will likely survive even longer, because very long tenure in the executive position can risk the continuation of democracy, but I expect term limits for other elective offices are a fad that will soon become a historical footnote, because state that term limit their representatives just lose seniority and consequent legislative power.
For the moment, I would prefer that Republican states enact term limits, so they never have senior representatives, which will limit their ability to do harm. But even dumb-ass Republicans will figure out after a while that their term limits are a self-inflicted political wound.

Laws should have an expiration date in proportion of the majority with which they were passed. So for example, laws passed at a 50%+1 majority expire after five years. Laws that are passed with 90%+ expire after, say, 50 years. That way laws on which everyone agree (murder, rape, etc) don't need to be redrafted too often. Of course, laws can also be abolished the usual way.

Interesting idea.

+1

Another effort to establish a "tyranny of the minority".
What is wrong with democracy?

Not sure why I'm actually replying to you, but how is this _not_ democratic? Do you know what the words you use mean?

Bad idea. Laws passed with narrow majorities typically are closely and carefully examined in the legislative process and an informed group decision will be made and ongoing legislative efforts to tweak that result will be present.

A law that passes nearly unanimously often does so because no one is paying attention and the problems unexpected by all, crop up later.

Also, it complicates the incentives of the legislative process which are complex enough already.

Cass Sunstein wrote :

Neither the Montreal Protocol nor the FDA can be blamed for the current situation.

Earlier in his article he says that the FDA is banning these inhalers in response to the Montreal Protocol and that the Protocol has an exemption for "essential uses". Now "essential" is open to interpretation, and surely a reasonable interpretation is that medical devices are essential. As far as I know, co-signatories aren't complaining about inhalers.

And yet the FDA chose a more restrictive interpretation. I think we can safely blame them.

"Agencies are now motivated to generate regulation after regulation, because those are the formal assignments set before them."

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And just where did 'agencies' get the constitutional power to generate any regulations at all ?

There's exactly zero difference between a law and a regulation, from the citizens' perspective. Both are commands from the government with legal penalties for non-compliance; they are fundamentally identical.

Yet the Constitution clearly states that all law-making (legislative) powers are vested in Congress. There is no authority granted to "delegate" any of that power to persons or agencies outside of Congress itself.

But it's oh so convenient to make new laws by the hundreds-of -thousands without all that messy "legislative" debate, voting, accountability and formality. Hence, a broad sidestep away from Constitutional requirements proved irresistible to the political class. A simple semantic deception worked miracles-- a huge class of new laws was/is enacted as 'regulations", without specific legislation. 21st Century Americans are left scratching their heads on how we got such a regulatory mess.

All Federal "regulations" (non-legislated laws) are null and void on their face. Makes the regulatory clean-up fairly easy, if we ever returned to the rule of law.

Your version of constitutional orthodoxy has trapped you in an ironic circular reference.
The Constitution very clearly assigns to the Supreme Court the responsibility for determining what is "constitutional".
So by that very constitutional precept, if the Supreme Court accepts Congress enacting laws which delegate implementation details to subject experts, then such delegation is constitutional, until the constitution is changed to allow some other method of interpretation.
And the details of legislative compliance have been delegated to experts since the founding of the United States. Interpretation and implementation of laws by the administrative branch is Inherent in the separation of powers. Your absolutist viewpoint would be completely un-workable, which is why no real-world government operates according to your personal "rule of law".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_Federal_Regulations
"Every regulation in the CFR must have an "enabling statute", or statutory authority. The United States Code (U.S. Code) precedes the CFR and contains statutes enacted by Congress. The CFR contains regulations, which spell out in further detail how the executive branch will interpret the law.[1] The two documents represent different stages in the legislative process. The U.S. Code is a codification of legislation, while the CFR serves as administrative law. Administrative law exists because the Congress often grants broad authority to executive branch agencies to interpret the statutes in the U.S. Code (and in uncodified statutes) which the agencies are entrusted with enforcing. Congress may be too busy, congested, or gridlocked to micromanage the jurisdiction of those agencies by writing statutes that cover every possible detail, or Congress may determine that the technical specialists at the agency are best equipped to develop detailed applications of statutes to particular fact patterns as they arise.

Your version of constitutional orthodoxy has trapped you in an ironic circular reference. The Constitution very clearly assigns to the Supreme Court the responsibility for determining what is “constitutional”.

I'd like to see where it says that. In fact the US constitution just says that the SC holds the judicial power and that and that "The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution". Since then America has accepted the concept of judicial review of legislation, and this means the SC is in fact the most important arbiter of constitutionality. But the constitution does not appoint any such arbiter -- it is the responsibility of the whole nation.

So interpreting constitutionality is the "responsibility of the whole nation"??
How would that work in practice, all 350 million sit in a room and try to reach consensus??

Of course, the current approach, with democratic election of Congress and President who appoint Supreme Court Justices to interpret the constitution is at least minimally functional. And takes the views of the everybody, at least those who bother to vote, in consideration.

The "whole nation" approach is obviously dysfunctional and completely impractical to implement, but opponents of government seem to enjoy making government non-functional, so from that perspective not working is a feature not a bug. Thankfully nihilists tend to lose elections.

For starters, I fail to why uncertainty is a big concern. If law X is set to expire and there's no move to renew it is Congress, business can plan accordingly. It is not like these sunset provisions will randomly kick in. I have customers in agriculture. They deal with the randomness of nature all the time. Landscapers deal with the weather just fine. Ditto roofers, asphalt companies, tree surgeons, etc.

The better criticism of the idea is that politicians in a social democracy will never go along with it. The first rule of constitution writing is that men are not angels. The second rule is that no legislature can bind another. That's what a sunset provision does. It attempts to force a future legislature to take up the measure and debate its virtue. Within one generation the sons of those legislators will tire of debating their father's causes and propose some remedy. Every year an omnibus bill would pass, extending all expiring bills for another year. it would pass on voice vote and be signed by the president without controversy.

The fact is, regulations are the leaves of the problem, not the root. A big sprawling leviathan does not live on bread alone. The unlimited supply of free money has allowed our little baby to grow by three times, adjusted for inflation and population, in my lifetime. If you want to force the state to roll back old rules and laws, you have to take the money away. A government that can only issue debt during a declared war against another country (no war on concepts) would be a frugal government. It would also be scrupulous in its rule making.

And unicorns will cavort on rainbows in someone's imagination.

Meanwhile back on planet Earth, all governments and almost all humans will carry debt, for obvious and practical reasons.
Governments make multitudes of investments that can be amortized over many human lifetimes, and prohibiting such debt would impoverish a nation, just as prohibiting bond debt for a corporation or mortgage debt for a family would impoverish them.
The roads, ports, highways, buildings, sewers, dams and water systems that governments build pay dividends much greater than the public investment required to build them. This is why wealthy nations have strong governments and carry lots of public debt, while poor nations have weak or no government along with little debt.
Would you rather live in LIberia (public debt 4.4% GDP) or Germany (81%) or Singapore (114% of GDP)?

Baloney. The size and nature of the debt we see today is a modern novelty. You carry on like it has always been thus. Maybe you are just trying to prove the point I made elsewhere about people having no ability to remember yesterday. I don't know. I do know that the rising tide of debt has nothing to do with funding roads, sewers or anything else of value. It is to finance a metastasizing custodial state. Frankly, you are just trying to defend robbery by claiming the robber will put the money to better use.

And you are trying to change the subject. The fact is we have this mountain of rules and no ability to repeal them because there's no financial limit on the state. As I'm fond of saying, this nonsense ends when the money runs out.

Keep dreaming, the money will never run out.

The endless evolutionary process of evolving the specific limits of the public and private sectors in a democracy will continue.
Your financial Armageddon will never happen. Taxes will rise and fall, as will public sector spending, but no nation that prints its' own currency can "run out". Inflation can certainly occur, although deflation is a much more serious risk at the moment.

There are plenty of financial limits on the state (perhaps you have heard of the "debt ceiling", or does that not exist on your planet?). We have rules because in a democracy a majority prefers them. The Philippines has just the same system, but different public choices, and even more limited financial resources.

The US has had debt since the founding, as has every other modern nation. Debt will continue, and clearly debt can be much higher than the US currently carries without severe financial impact (look how wealthy Singapore is with 114% of GDP debt). Sure you can dream about returning to the glory days of the 1700s, but in democracy nobody will join you, so you dream in vain. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_United_States_public_debt

I would rather live in the Philippines, which is poorer that Liberia and has worse infrastructure but safer for me. A lot of Americans should rethink living in the USA (as I used to), as there are cheaper and better alternatives.

As the tourist slogan here says: "It's more fun in the Philippines". That said, like a good fishing hole I can envision the day when this place is completely ruined by outsiders (it's already nearly ruined by insiders, lol).

As for taxes and infrastructure--anytime the government has a monopoly on doing something it messes up, be it planning a war or building a road. Even here the road projects are just licenses by government insiders to gold plate and steal from the public coffers.

Liberal fanatics like TommyVee can't imagine an alternative to the present, other than their dreamed of utopian future. He sure as heck can't comprehend why the Philippines would be better for you than the US.

One of the interesting developments is what you are seeing in the Philippines. There are other countries experiencing a similar influx of middle-class first world refugees. Medical services will drive some of it, maybe most of it. Cost of living is another factor. I know a few people who have decamped to the Philippines because it was a low cost retirement option.

Actually I own a house in Costa Rica, so I completely understand why someone might not prefer living in the US.
Of course Costa Rica has national health insurance, no army, functional infrastructure, and 27% of land area as parks, not to mention "pura vida".
I have not argued for Utopia at all, actually I expect and prefer the current "muddling through" of the democratic process. All human endeavors, including rules and regulations, are necessarily imperfect. But the perfect should not be the enemy of the good, and removing and/or fixing bad regulation (of which there are many) will never lead to the Libertarian paradise, no matter what Ayn Rand wrote.

Going to the Philippines to avoid public debt makes no sense, since they carry 51% of GDP in public debt at the moment.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_public_debt

If you think "anytime the government has a monopoly on doing something it messes up", you really need a holiday in Somalia, or anywhere else without a functional government. If you claim that government infrastructure including local/state/interstate roads, sewers, airports, and water systems in the US has not improved your life then you are lying to yourself. Likely without the public health improvements resulting from government infrastructure you might not be alive (Somalia life expectancy at birth, 49 years, http://www.tradingeconomics.com/somalia/life-expectancy-at-birth-male-years-wb-data.html)

Of course, Liberia is much poorer than the Philippines, 20 seconds with google to find the truth instead of repeating falsehoods.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal)_per_capita

Governments make multitudes of investments that can be amortized over many human lifetimes.

What's so good about that? Is it moral to commit the unborn to paying for the stuff that you want?

Of course it is moral to make inter-generational investments, only a nihilist or a completely impractical ideologue would disagree.
Investment for the future is one of the foundations of civilization.
Like a fish in the ocean that ignore the water, you comment on this website only because you benefit from the investments that millions made before you were born, including the soldiers who gave their lives to preserve your freedom to comment.
Only because your life rests upon the results of millenia of human investment do you have the freedom to take the infantile and selfish position of fake individualism.

, only a nihilist or a completely impractical ideologue would disagree
Ah, a variation on the "no true scotsman fallacy". It's indeed morally acceptable for an individual to make a voluntary investment in an enterprise that might extend far into the future, although his successors might see fit to modify its direction or terminate it altogether. In a free society they're not forced to assume responsibility for the commitments of their ancestors. This isn't the case when a coercive government with the power to confiscate wealth engages in a multi-generational project. See the TVA, for instance.

As far as the soldiers that gave their lives to preserve my freedom to comment, I also consider the lives of the Japanese schoolgirls that were on their way to class at 8:15 am on the morning of August 6, 1945.

Tyler wrote:
"It makes it harder for businesses to make “once and for all” adjustments and may impose an even greater cost on the allocation of attention from top management"

It's not as though laws or regulations aren't already subject to revision/replacement. Businesses already have to be ready for such change - an additional *scheduled* item may not be especially burdensome.

I dont see how anyone can claim airline deregulation was a success. Airline costs fell faster before deregulation and when you adjust for the fact that there was an oil bubble before deregulation, airline costs fell a lot faster before deregulation. All that despite deregulation being accompanied with a fall in services (no more free lunches), air routes, workers compensation, and failing airline companies.
How is that a success?

Maybe the regulators should obey have the rule that before they make a new regulation they have to get rid of an old regulation first. Well, this rule at least helps me keep my closet tidy.

It would seem that perhaps larger businesses might have more difficulty dealing with the uncertainty of sunset provisions compared with smaller businesses. I would consider this a feature, not a bug.

The reverse is generally true. Legislative and regulatory monitoring costs are similar regardless of business scale per firm, so they favor big business that can devote a smaller percentage of their resources to this task.

I agree that large businesses benefit from regulations due to the fixed cost nature, but what I'm getting at is large businesses tend to have difficulty with change, compared to small businesses and new entrants.

We could call this effort the "Lobbyist, FundRaiser, and Lawyer Full Employment Act".

Agreed, but there is some benefit to raising the cost the of regulatory capture. A firm has to calculate its lobbying costs for an unpopular issue every ten years instead of just one big push to get it passed. At the margins, this should decrease the amount of special interest favors the government gives out since the lifetime cost has gone up.

I think that one of the better systemic approaches to removal of unnecessary regulations would be an adversary process.

A certain number of years after a regulation was passed (perhaps eight so that a new administration was always in office and to discourage "do overs" of the initial regulation adoption process), someone, either a private individual, or a designated "deregulatory counsel" with a fixed annual budget who had to pick his battles, would have the ability to bring a civil action seeking to have a regulation repealed on the grounds that it was unnecessary or ineffective. The state could concede the suit by modifying or repealing the regulation, or could defend it.

There would be no bright line quota for regulatory repeal (to avoid an incentive to feather bed new regulations with materials that could be repealed later). A human element picking and choosing would reflect the reality that regulations become outdated as new information becomes available, not on a fixed sunset formula basis - often regulations that survive the test of the time are the best (e.g. 10b-5). Instead, someone discovers, for example, that most food based disease comes from unwashed organic vegetables rather than pork, perhaps, and regulations need to adjust to fit this reality.

But what about my fence?!

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