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A More or Less Perfect Union

Governance by Bureaucracy

The framers gave us three branches of government with carefully separated powers to keep each branch in check and not allow too much power to accumulate in any one area or individual. But Congress and the president created a fourth branch—the so-called independent agencies that create and enforce (two separate powers under the Constitution!) federal regulations. Those regulations have the power of federal law.

In 1789, George Washington himself created the first agency—the State Department.

It seems that no one knows exactly how many federal agencies exist. There are roughly 247 listed on the Federal Registration website for 2019—and that only counts the ones that have issued at least 2 documents during the calendar year.

Keep in mind each agency can issue regulations that have the force of federal law—and they were not elected by the people, nor by the representatives of the people.

As of this writing, the 2019 Federal Register has approximately 59,000 pages. It's anticipated that by the year's end, it will have about 70,000 pages.

In 2017, the 115th Congress (our elected lawmakers) passed 442 new laws. Compare that with the 4,949 actions by the regulatory agencies in 2017.

So how many laws might you be breaking on a daily basis?

One recently passed regulation stipulates the font size for vending machine snack packages. Apparently, one must be able to read the calories before inserting your money into the machine! Hint—most foods sold in vending machines are not low-calorie items! Eat at your own risk? Or do you think consumers should be able to see this information through the glass? If so, is there a way to make it happen without a government regulation?

Tell us your most egregious examples of government overreach by sharing your stories with us via our social media channels.