“It’s About Bloody Time” To Cut Excessive Government Regulation

GregNormanGreg Norman may have retired from the PGA Tour in 2009, but he hit a hole in one recently when asked about Donald Trump’s efforts to cut government red tape.

During an appearance on Fox News, co-host Steve Doocy asked the Australian entrepreneur whose business ventures in the US include golf apparel, wine, restaurants and water parks: “What do you make of President Trump fulfilling campaign promises to roll back regulations to make it easier for guys like you in business to do business?”

“It’s about bloody time!” replied the Shark without hesitation.

Leave it to a straight-talking Aussie to tell Americans just how overdue we are for an overhaul of our bloated bureaucracy.

While many Americans have accepted an ever-expanding government as such an ordinary part of our lives that watching Congress pass more regulation is as predictable as watching the azaleas bloom in April at Augusta, others like Norman who are out there taking risks and creating jobs believe it’s time to prune back regulation.

To understand Norman’s passion on this issue, it’s important to understand just how burdensome the regulatory system in the United States has become. Only when we can comprehend the true cost of complying with government regulations can we fully understand why reform is needed so desperately today.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute estimates that the total cost of complying with all the federal regulations each year is a whopping $1.8 trillion. To put that into perspective, complying with regulations costs more than all the money the federal government collects from individual ($1.4 trillion) and corporate ($341 billion) income taxes combined.

And, if your big-government Facebook friends need more evidence that bureaucratic red tape has gotten too out of hand, there’s this: when you look at the value of all the goods and services produced by every country around the world, only eight countries have a GDP that exceeds the cost of regulation in the United States.

That’s right. If US regulation was a country, it would be the ninth largest country in the world!

It costs more for businesses, charities, associations and everyone else in the US to comply with federal regulations than the value of everything created in Canada (GDP of $1.78 trillion) in one year. Australia has a very respectable GDP of $1.45 trillion per year, too, but our regulatory burden looks like a whale compared the total economic output of the Shark’s native country.

When we understand the true cost of excessive government regulation, we can also begin to see it’s not just businesses that see this as a major issue but that teachers, doctors and many others want relief, too.

A national survey of public school teachers found that the percentage of teachers who perceive they have low autonomy in the classroom rose by a whopping 44% in a recent eight-year period. Teachers have less autonomy these days because of a myriad of new government regulations aimed at increasing student test scores and making schools more accountable.

Of course, everyone wants to raise student performance, but some experts believe that by placing too many regulations on teachers, government is choking their ability to be creative. A little less red tape governing how classrooms run could help schools retain the best teachers and attract new ones to the profession.

And doctors? When 14,000 medical doctors from a wide variety of specialties were surveyed to identify their levels of professional happiness, more than half of them said they feel burned out in their job. That’s a 25% increase from just four years ago. The main reason they feel burned out is that they have too many bureaucratic tasks.

When our physicians start listing bureaucratic burnout as their number one reason for being unhappy, that’s especially troubling. Doctors with a reduced feeling of well-being and satisfaction can have lower concentration, and that can lead to problems making the right diagnosis and other medical errors.

It’s time to cut the red tape. But if you won’t listen to me, listen to former President Bill Clinton’s golf buddy, Greg Norman. It’s about bloody time.

The Great Non-Debate: When George McGovern and Jack Kemp Got Together To Make A TV Ad

McGovern:Kemp TV adWith the presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton dominating headlines, let’s go back in time and take a look at a time when one of the most conservative presidential candidates of the past 50 years got together with one of the most liberal presidential candidates of the past 100 years to talk about the need to address an issue still plaguing America today.

The conservative was former Congressman Jack Kemp. The liberal was former US Senator George McGovern. They agreed on very little when it came to public policy, but that was before McGovern retired from politics and bought a country inn.

After McGovern retired and decided to run a business, he quickly learned how difficult it can be to keep up with government regulations and fend off personal injury lawyers who don’t like the way one operates. By 1992, he finally had enough and surprised his friends and foes alike by writing a column for the Wall Street Journal in which he explained all the problems he experienced. His inn eventually went bankrupt, and he blamed excessive government rules and regulations – the kind he supported in Congress – as big reasons for the failure.

He also blamed one other thing: frivolous lawsuits.  Even after the bankruptcy, he said “we are still dealing with litigation from individuals who fell in or near our restaurant.  Despite these injuries, not every misstep is the fault of someone else.  Not every incident should be viewed as a lawsuit instead of an unfortunate accident.  And while the business owner may prevail in the end, the endless exposure to frivolous claims and high legal fees is frightening.”

His friends in the trial bar were not happy with that column.  Nor were his former colleagues in Congress who relied heavily on political contributions from trial lawyers to finance their elections.  But McGovern wasn’t afraid to speak the truth, and job providers around the country rejoiced at having this unlikely ally speaking out on their behalf.

McGovern was so passionate about the harm done by excessive litigation that he also made a TV ad with Jack Kemp to urge Americans to join him in the fight against lawsuit abuse.  It’s one of my favorite political ads but was seen by relatively few Americans since it had a very limited run on the air. I obtained a copy when I became president of a Michigan-based legal reform group in the late 1990s and have posted it to YouTube here so you can see it, too.

George McGovern died shortly before before the last presidential election. Unfortunately, we’re still waiting for a political leader who is willing to tackle a problem that continues to plague everyone from inn owners and other job providers to non-profit community groups to this very day: lawsuit abuse.