Too Many Regulations

by | November 23, 2011

For a democracy to work, citizens must believe that their vote means something and that the government they have elected is acting in their best interests. In other words, democracy is about trust.

How can a citizen believe in the system if the system doesn’t make sense. This is not about politics, not about socialism vs capitalism. This is about how people can live in a democracy that micromanages their everyday lives. Take cities, for example. Most Western cities now have so many rules, regulations and by-law enforcement officers that no one knows any longer what is permitted. And many of the regulations make no sense.

Consider winter in Ontario where in many municipalities homeowners are expected to clear snow off the end of their driveway even when it is the city’s plows that throw the snow there. Now consider summer in Ontario where homeowners are expected to keep their lawns respectable even now that the province has outlawed most weed control products. And what about the rights of allergy sufferers who have to cope with increased pollen counts?

It is clear that the municipal politicians (and, more importantly, the salaried civil servants) have a vested interest in making government more complex in order to justify their own existence. Again, this still not about politics (left vs right), this is about the system itself, a system which is unduly complex without reason.

As we have argued before in this forum, the answer is smaller jurisdictions which will compete between themselves for residents. Certainly there are people who want a complex government and are willing to cope with the ramifications. But many don’t and for those there should be an alternative.

Competition has a wonderful way of weeding out the bad solutions. The problem right now is that jurisdictions at every level (national, state, municipal) are simply too large to provide a competitive environment. Then the waste of complexity will be something that we might choose rather than something that is forced upon us.

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