A law I wish we had in the USA

Canada’s just passed one of the most sensible laws I can think of.

Thankfully, regulatory transparency got a considerable boost Thursday when the Red Tape Reduction Act (C-21) received Royal Assent and became law. Minister Tony Clement, who has championed the bill, can be proud that Canada is now the first country in the world to require that for every new regulation introduced one of equivalent burden must be removed.

C-21, has been operating as policy for several years already, which means that the costs of new rules must be quantified and equal or greater costs removed. It essentially caps the cost of rules coming directly from regulations. Government rules can also come from legislation and policy so the one-for-one rule is not a cap on the cost of all government rules. Still, it is a very good start.

Why is this so important? Regulation, both necessary and unnecessary (red tape), are a huge hidden tax on all Canadians. The latest estimate from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business suggests that regulation costs $37 billion a year.

. . .

Prime Minister Harper calls red tape a “silent killer of jobs.” He’s right. One of the disturbing findings from CFIB’s recent report is that one in four of today’s business owners would not advise their kids to go into business given the current burden of complying with government rules. But discouraging businesses from starting is just the beginning of red tape’s negative impacts. Red tape wastes valuable time that could be spent doing any number of other things like serving customers, learning new skills, or enjoying family. For consumers, it increases prices and reduces choices.

Red tape’s most destructive impact is that it undermines the relationship between government and its citizens. Struggling with confusing language, getting put on hold for excessive periods of time, getting bad compliance advice from government agents or running up against a dumb, costly rule shakes one’s faith that the taxes we pay are working for us not against us.

There’s more at the link.

I’d love to see such a law passed in the USA as well – but going further than the Canadian one.  I’d like the US law to mandate that two older regulations should be abolished for every new one introduced.  We need to do more than merely maintain regulations at their present level;  we need to begin reducing their burden on our society.

Now, who among our politicians will start the ball rolling?  Of the current crop of Presidential candidates, I suspect Scott Walker’s the most likely prospect.  How about it, Mr. Walker?  Put that in your platform and I think you’ll gain an awful lot of support.



  1. Another law you might also want to copy is this one. To prevent corruption there are no corporate donations to political parties. The maximum an individual can contribute in each year is $1,500. Also Elections Canada sets a spending limit for all the parties for each election, based on the number of voters in each riding.


  2. IMHO, campaign finance laws are ripe for insanity. If I have a limit on how much I can spend on a candidate's campaign, what if I just want to pay for a bunch of pamphlets on my own? If I can, any limit is easily circumventable. If I can't, then we have the ludicrous situation where speech is free for everything except politics.

  3. I've been saying for years that even if we just add sunset laws that automatically kill off any new laws after some length of time it has to help, but this would be better by far.

    You could also got through the Code of Federal Regulations and throw out half of it without any negative consequences, with just a modicum of sanity on everyone's part.

    SiGraybeard @ work

  4. Ah yes, a rule forbidding corporations, but not unions, from having a voice in the economy. And another rule giving free crying towels to the unemployed when the corporations move to locations where they're more appreciated.

    Let's pass a new regulation,C but first we need to delete an old one or two. Very well, we delete regulations A and B and pass regulation A,B,C. There, see? Fewer regulations.

    How about this: The budgeted monies for ALL regulatory agencies will be 50% of what it was in the preceding year unless the agency head can make a persuasive case to the House of Representatives for a different amount which must be approved by a 60 vote majority.

  5. Another thought: It's only possible to enforce anything like this if the people want it enforced.

    Case in point: Ohio's Constitution. One of its first amendments is a balanced budget: a maximum of seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars of debt, except for wars. Great, right?

    Well, the rest of the article is a list of exception upon exception, and the freakishly long and legalese § 8.02l allows for hundreds of millions of dollars of debt for "Parks, recreation, and natural resources project capital improvements."

    A constitution can do nothing against a people willing to amend it for good or ill.

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