Perhaps the most fantastical regulation to launch recently from the collective hive-mind of the federal bureaucracy is the one which administrates the very breath of life. Yes, the Environmental Protection Agency—stop right there!
Just pause and contemplate the name of this ever-growing government group. The Agency (connotations of furtive, fedora-wearing men) to Protect the Environment? And just what is the “environment”? Why, everything. There is nothing that isn’t the environment. The best technical definition is “Earth and its solar neighborhood”, which though seemingly broad fails to mention cosmic rays. Thus, the entire universe is the environment.
The EPA can reason in just this way and argue that literally everything under the sun is in its purview. Laugh not, nor scoff you. The EPA pulled this stunt when it decided to classify your very breath as a pollutant. Why? Because drawing a breath necessitates puffing one back out. Problem is, the output has more carbon dioxide than the input. And that gas is persona non grata in the hallways of Washington: it causes unstoppable catastrophic global warming!
It is your turn to ponder and predict what new, frivolous, freedom-restricting, freakish, flighty fiat will befall us. The rules are detailed below. The winner will receive a presentation-ready certificate (on recycled paper using biodegradable ink) announcing his sagacity.
Now, what the EPA has not yet acknowledged is that other biologically created gases are more insidious than CO2. Methane, for one, the emissions of which were well proved in the campfire scene in that classic Mel Brooks documentary Blazing Saddles.
Thus, my entry for the next strangest government regulation is that the EPA will limit per-capita bean and cruciferous-vegetable consumption, or that it will mandate the manufactures of these food stuffs incorporate Beano into their recipes.
I base this prediction not just on trends in global warming-based rules, but on the many new regulations which tell citizens what they may not put into their bodies. New York bans trans-fat, there are calls to limit salt everywhere, in California (first as ever) there is a proposed law to stop smoking in tobacco shops, schools in Chicago forbid homemade lunches, and on and on and on.
And don’t forget the granddaddy of them all: the prohibition of alcohol, written into the very fabric of our Constitution! Our rule is always this: if it happened before, it will happen again. Incidentally, am I the only one to notice that the introduction of prohibition in this and every other country coincided, within a year or two, of universal suffrage? Most food- and booze-based rules are nothing more than legalistic, mandatory-sweater-wearing mothering.
The internet in its salad days was, as Tom Cruise famously said of Scientology, wild and woolly. People said and did what they wanted. Innovation was rampant. Money was made. No more! The government has finally caught its breath and figured out how to parse an string of HTML. It wants in.
There are calls for “net neutrality”—as is common with regulations, this one means the opposite of what it says. Companies who paid for the cables, machines, and men which bring the internet to your home will be told that they may not charge for the amount people use these cables, machines, and men. The government has been persuaded that charge-for-use is “unfair.”
Were you aware that some websites are not accessible for the deaf and blind? The government is, and it is considering expanding the Americans with Disabilities Act to mandate websites become “accessible” (a term to be defined by lawyers).
It isn’t just the government, the National Federation of the Blind has lodged an official complaint with the Justice Department which charges that “Google Apps for Education amounts to discrimination.” It will not be long before armed agents come to the garages of programmers and say, “Build this in or cease operating.”
Our populace is by now well trained to see any deprivation, no matter how slight or fleeting, as a gross and intolerable injustice, as a wrong to be righted by legislative muscle. On any corner you can hear cries of Racism!, Sexism!, Rights! Therefore, we shall see an ever-increasing series of bizarre and lunatic laws and regulations. The only question is: what comes next?
The regulation you propose must be new, not mentioned by any politician or agency heretofore. It must be verifiable, and you must provide the details that allow its verification. All regulations must be on the books—either in some some federal agency or proposed (but not necessarily passed) in the Senate or House—by 15 April 2012 (tax day).
Somebody also has to remind me to re-publicize this contest from time to time. I am the sole judge and jury.
This contest is null and void if it breaks any rules and regulations set up by our ever beneficent government. The prize has no cash value.
The new regulation: Internet blogs will no longer be able to hold contest predicting forthcoming, unknown regulations. The Whereas’s in the preamble of the regulation will include, “Whereas, the sanctity of regulations being an essential public good.”
Reading regulations will be proscribed. This will be a cost-saver because if they cannot be read, there is no need to publish them. This is the ultimate form of “It is because we say it is.”
This is not an original regulation btw.
Sugar and butter will be rationed for the health of the nation and will be incorporated into the new health care regulations.
i might add that the proscription of regulation reading will not be published which will be the basis of its verification. These things are so simple when you understand them.
The next EPA regulation will concern mandatory conservation of water. Some say we have about 360 gazillion [a number followed by 18 zeros] gallons of water rolling around earth, but 98% makes up the oceans and seas, and is somehow not fit to drink. Another 1.6% is locked up in polar ice caps, glaciers and party ice so that leaves about .4% to fill our fresh water lakes, rivers, streams, reservoirs, loo holding tanks, bottles on grocery shelves and other necessities. What remains is 43.5 gallons more or less available for the whole world to drink. No wonder beer is so popular. I can’t wait until the EPA fixes this problem with a new regulation.
I predict that water will be the next big thing to be regulated. It will also be EXTREMELY expensive.
The primary and secondary drinking water standards will be set so low that only one company (General Electric) will be able to provide the technology to “clean” the water for the entire country.
Cities will start rationing. If you use more than your “fair” share then you will be charged with a misdemeanor then later it will escalate to a felony.
Ugh…49er beat me to it.
“It must be verifiable, and you must provide the details that allow its verification.”
That’s not fair. Agencies promulgate regulations all the time which are vague, ambiguous and subject to interpretation. I used to work for the Army Department Standardization Office and if you wrote a specification with a requirement which did not have an objective verification method, the specification was considered patently deffective. Government agencies issue patently defective regulations all the time and that’s why the regulations end up being litagated in court for years.
Savor for a moment “Best Reasonably Available Control Technology” which was a standard that EPA afflicted those who were trying to get something done in the late ’70s.
unusual, extraordinary, or curious; odd; queer”
A contest to “Predict The Next Strangest Government Regulation” is doomed from the gitgo.
Why, you ask?
Look at the above definition for ‘strange’.
Given the above definition of strange and the actions of the government in recent years, can any conceivable regulation be considered garden variety ‘strange’, never mind strangest?
When it comes to accounts of government behavior we have long since passed the point where satire, parody, and reality are distinguishable to the casual observer.
The EPA is a Federal Agency. It cannot move quickly due to inertia. If there is to be a novel regulation (although what could be more novel than the CO2 thing?), it must already be in the works. Therefore, I predict: no breathtaking ruling prior to April 2012.
Many are born blind and/or deaf. Since web sites, etc. must be made accessible to such unfortunates, it’s only reasonable to expect the following:
Since many (some say about half) are born with below average IQ’s and many online and game console games require thinking, those with below average intelligence are at a disadvantage in getting to the next level. There will be a regulation such that games cannot be too difficult for those with less than average intelligence cannot win them. I imagine that this will be enforced by hiring many people with very low IQ’s (no jokes here about transfers from Congress, etc.) to attempt all games. Should they not be navigable by the ICPA (Intellectually Challenged Protection Agency) ICE (Intellectually Challenged Entertainment) players, they will not be deemed fit for sale to the public.
I also expect that blogs and web sites will need to track and post the average number of syllables/word and that, should that number exceed, say, 1.5, the web site or blog will be censored until repairs are made.
As an aside, I think that the ICPA will need to employ a lot of statisticians.
Restrictions on breeding? Wait, I think some have proposed that.
Given that animals also produce CO2, not only will the government lift restrictions on hunting, but will then impose new restrictions on both owning animals and breeding them.
DAFT – the Domestic Animal oFfset Tax. Since it’s impractical to measure pets’ greenhouse gas emissions animals will be sorted by weight into a number of emissions bands, and they will be taxed accordingly. The lightest pets might conceivably be regarded as Zero Emissions Pets for tax purposes.
Those bad people are cutting down trees to make toilet paper, so we should impose regulations and tax the users- and call it “Toilet Paper Duty”.
I think Hwan is correct about G.E. being the prime beneficiary when water is further regulated. Great call! I need to buy more stock in them.
The EPA, with the blessings of our incredibly corrupt and terminally inept Congress, President, and Judiciary, will regulate that most dangerous source and vector of disease and pollution: currency.
Yes, dear friends, fiat paper passed hand-to-hand will be seen as polluted and pollution itself, and so the Elite shall sagely agree to ban it’s possession and use.
Which will be no great loss, since currency will soon be worthless for anything but starting the fire in the cave — due to spiraling exponential inflation, a worldwide phenomenon brought on by the impending catastrophic failure and betrayal of the “full faith and credit” of the former U.S. Government.
It will also be the last official action of the EPA, which will balkanize into small, cannibalistic tribes of wandering savages, former fanatical functionaries gone feral.
You think I’m kidding. I wish I were.
btw, the contest prize of “no cash value” is irony on multiple levels.
Government controls on urination.
The presence of I-131 in a water treatment plant in Philadelphia was considered an absolutely intolerable consequence of the Fukushima crisis. When it turned out that the iodine was already there and might come from the urine of nuclear-medicine patients, the obvious next step is urination control.
In a related story, Malawi is considering a ban on flatulence.
EPA will regulate “fracking” (of shale rock to produce natural gas) to protect “drinking water.” Note: all groundwater is considered, by EPA, drinking water unless formally exempted from drinking water regs.
Regulations shall no longer be codified. If a regulation is to exist it is deemed to exist because it regulates. Any question regarding said regulation will be a violation of said regulation and punishable by said regulation’s regulators discretion.
Isn’t there a government regulation stating that all competitions should have at least two judges to ensure fairness?
The Onion anticipated you.
“You propose to establish a social order based on the following tenets: that you’re incompetent to run your own life, but competent to run the lives of others — that you’re unfit to exist in freedom, but fit to become an omnipotent ruler — that you’re unable to earn your living by use of your own intelligence, but able to judge politicians and vote them into jobs of total power over arts you have never seen, over sciences you have never studied, over achievements of which you have no knowledge, over the gigantic industries where you, by your own definition of capacity, would be unable successfully to fill the job of assistant greaser.”
And the EPA is a valued component of that social order.
Those who can, do.
Those who can’t, teach (no offense, Matt).
Those who can’t teach, administrate.
Those who can’t administrate, regulate.
Those who can’t regulate, agitate.
“Sugar and butter will be rationed for the health of the nation and will be incorporated into the new health care regulations.”
Wow, no sooner than I wrote it I find this article in the NYT:
“Is Sugar Toxic?”
It is funny how the government can think of so many things to regulate when it has not controlled itself in terms of spending. It is even funnier how they have restrained people from what is basically every person’s right that is- the right to eat or take in anything that they want. People have free will and that should not be curtailed by these non-sense regulations.
A ban on household scissors, knives, and nail clippers. This will most likely result in the creation of special cutting stations, probably attached to post offices, where one can go to have a length of twine snipped (2 cents) or wrapping paper cut (5 cents). Home sewers and crafters will be able to purchase a subscription for all of their various cutting needs. Food that was previously cut in one’s kitchen can be bought in the supermarket, industrially cut, in various sizes, and wrapped in plastic. For one’s nails, there is always the salon. Think of the boon to the economy with all this job creation.