As the Federal debt started exploding a few years ago I tried to look ahead and figure out what would happen. Lots of bad things of course, but one potential outcome, as I mentioned in a blog post a few days ago, was that a new wave of politicians would get elected and scrap most or all of the nanny state agencies to cut expenses. Sort of “every cloud has a silver lining” kind of thing.
I should know better than to think any government operation could have a “silver lining”.
What I had never considered, not even in my most pessimistic moments was that the Feds would find a way to turn the crisis into a way to further expand their control. Instead of control weakening as funding became harder to get there is a path whereby funding is obtained by increasing control. Sure, I know about the war on drugs and confiscating property “involved” in a drug crime being used to fund law enforcement. But this is much, much worse.
I recently had a reliable source tell me the EPA, OSHA, and other regulatory agencies have been told to explore how they can supply their own revenue such that they become self supporting. “Run like a business” and even potentially make a profit. My source explicitly called out the EPA and OSHA but one can easily imagine how this mandate will be extended to the ATF and hundreds of other government organizations.
If the color didn’t just drain out of your face and you nearly fainted you either don’t have a very good imagination or you have a government job.
The only way these regulators can “make” money is through fines and confiscation of property. One of the examples given to me was of dust production in a particular type of facility of which there are thousands all across the country. I’ll not name them to avoid giving the Feds easy targets but these facilities have existed for many decades and are an essential part of our infrastructure. The regulations say that if more than 0.125” of dust builds up on the interior surfaces of the buildings they must be cleaned or else they can be fined. The problem is that no one knows of a fix for the problem. It would take 7 to 8 hours to clean a facility. It’s a problem similar to the classic “If one man can dig a post hole in two minutes how many minutes would it take two men to dig a post hole?” It just can’t be done in less than 7 to 8 hours. Once the facility goes back into production the dust will exceed spec in about 30 minutes. Obviously a facility that is in maintenance mode 15 times as much as it is in production mode is not viable. So maybe they could just pay the fine and figure that is “just the cost of doing business”. That doesn’t work either.
If the Feds come back a week later and they are out of spec the fine can be doubled. And doubled again the next week (or day) if they are still in production. Basically it amounts to after the first fine the operator will have to shutdown the facility or find a permanent fix to the dust problem—and no such solution exists. Dust, in many situations, cannot be significantly reduced.
Numerous other examples were given to me of extremely low-hanging fruit that the Feds can “harvest” at will if they only know where to look. This type of problem exists essentially everywhere. It’s Huffman’s rule of firearms law on a massive scale applied to nearly every industry and every person (remember Three Felonies a Day?). That is how they can generate revenue, “become profitable”, and our country becomes a police state.