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.