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When Will We Ever Learn?

Regulation costs money. Regulation upon regulation upon regulation costs lots of money without adding any significant benefit to our society.  In fact, more often than not these additional regulatory burdens lower our quality of life by misdirecting limited resources.

Yet, it seems not a week goes by that some new regulation designed to protect us is passed. We’re told our schools are in a budget crisis situation, yet the federal government has put in more regulations that costs schools money in areas that have nothing to do with inproving academics:

Imagine a playground with bark chips instead of sand, curved plastic edges and smooth bolts so no one gets hurt, specialized swing chains and three different play zones for different ages.

This is not just someone’s imagination. It’s a set of federal guidelines that will cost Albuquerque Public Schools about $10 million to meet.

The federal guidelines are not mandates per se, but failure to follow them leaves the district vulnerable to lawsuits, said John Dufay, APS maintenance and operations director.

He said the most important reason for doing so is student safety, although liability is an issue. Any student injured on a playground that doesn’t comply with the guidelines would have an easier case, he said. 

Now, I have two school age children, and don’t want to seem them get hurt playing on playgrounds.  But, let’s get real here.  Children sometimes get hurt when they play, and there don’t exist safety measures that can be put into place to 100% protect children from getting hurt. I can almost guarantee you that even with these proposed playground changes, we will still have kids getting hurt during recess. And, we will still have schools getting sued when children get hurt because we live in a litigious society.

 It’s not just regulation supposedly designed to protect children that is misguided. There are other regulatory burdens that basically boil down to more money out of our pocket. 

New pollution controls could be in store for New Mexico as the Obama administration moves to crack down on smog.

Parts of at least four counties — San Juan, Rio Arriba, Doña Ana and Bernalillo — could be out of compliance with the new ground-level ozone standard proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Nationally, the new limits could more than double the number of counties in violation.  

What’s going to follow these regulations? Well, let’s see:

  • increased vehicle emission testing = money out of your pocket
  • prohibition on gas lawn mowers = money out of your pocket
  • no pump times for filling your vehicle = citizen inconvenience 

Of course, that’s just a partial list.  States and municipalities will have 20 years to come up with prohibitions and mandated services to meet these new federal regulations.  Plus, we know that as soon as these regulations are in place, someone will come up with a new stricter regulations will come into play. After all, that’s what the government does – come up with new regulation and legislation.

The kicker is that we don’t live in a national bubble, so the regulations and associated costs along with reduction in quality of life won’t really make a big difference in the end:

“In places like southern Doña Ana County, there’s not a lot the state can do,” said Mary Uhl, state Air Quality Bureau chief. “There are not a lot of emissions to be reduced. The state will need to work with Texas and Mexico to address that.”

The tighter standards, though costly to implement, will ultimately save billions in avoided emergency room visits, premature deaths, and missed work and school days, the EPA said. 

That last sentence says it all.  What we’re really doing is cost shifting from one expense area to another. We’re removing one inconvenience n replacing it with another. We’re not improving our lives in any substantial manner.  We’re just regulating for the sake of regulating.