Death by regulation

“Corruptissima republica plurimae leges,” warned Publius Cornelius Tacitus: “The more corrupt the republic, the more numerous the laws.”

“If you have ten thousand regulations, you destroy all respect for the law,” agreed the similarly pragmatic Winston Churchill.

Our ancestors seemed to understand that laws were best kept simple, few and clear. It was left to the perverted genius of our modern era to invent the career of “lawmaker,” and to adopt the weird notion that the quality of our elected representatives is best judged not by their efforts to keep us free of entangling new skeins of regulations, but rather by how energetically they weave new webs to ensnare us.

Take the state Legislature in neighboring Sacramento. Please.

From some dozen nominees, herewith a runner-up, followed by our choice of the New Year’s best example of overregulation, California-style:

Runner-up: As of tomorrow, thanks to Assemblyman Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, companies that have business operations in Sudan will be prohibited from bidding on any California state contracts, a measure intended to discourage the central government of that African nation from pursuing its ongoing genocide in the province of Darfur.

Including those who sell food, guns and ammunition to the residents of Darfur, so they can defend themselves against the genocide? Um … so it would seem.

And now, this year’s winner, courtesy of state Sen. Jenny Oropeza, D-Long Beach: California’s bureaucrats will now set up a certification system to distinguish legitimate massage therapists from massage parlors that serve as fronts for prostitution. “Massage therapists” will have to take 500 hours of training and pass a criminal background check and an exam approved by a new nonprofit organization.

Does it take 500 hours to learn how to give a massage? Of course not. This is merely another protection racket, setting expensive hurdles designed to limit entry into the field by new competitors.

Someone page the Institute for Justice.

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