Did you ever think there would come a time when the government would dictate what size soft drink you could buy? Did you ever think the efficiency of your dishwasher and washing machine would be regulated by the federal government? Did you ever think that the flushing capacity of your toilet would be dictated by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.? If you answered “no” to these questions, welcome to the crowd. Americans are finally waking up to the fact that no aspect of their lives is beyond the reach of big brother. They are also beginning to realize that government regulation is not a benign enterprise. We all pay a high price for the regulations imposed on us by politicians who are intent on advancing a misguided agenda that is at odds with the realities of daily life in local communities.

Complying with federal government regulations costs Americans in two ways: 1) by steadily increasing the cost of living, and 2) by steadily decreasing individual freedom. With every new regulation passed the government increases its control over our lives. In the interest of full disclosure I will reveal that I am not a radical libertarian who believes that all government regulations are bad. Some regulations are warranted, but increasingly the regulations coming out of Washington, D.C. are burdensome, unnecessary, and driven by ulterior motives. What are these ulterior motives? There are several: 1) a desire for security on the part of government bureaucrats who are more interested in protecting their jobs than protecting American citizens; 2) a quest for relevance on the part of superfluous government agencies that have no Constitutional basis for existing, 3) a commitment to using the regulatory function of government to advance a misguided leftist agenda, and 4) a lust for the power to tell Americans how they must live their lives.

The Heritage Foundation recently summarized the ten worst regulations passed in 2012. There is not sufficient space in just one column to catalogue all ten of them, but the reader may find those explained herein enlightening or, better said, frightening. The regulation that tops the Heritage Foundation’s list of “worst regulations” is the contraception mandate from the Department of Health and Human Services. This controversial, wrong-headed regulation requires that all insurance plans include coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization procedures, and contraceptives. No provision is made for organizations or individuals for which abortion is morally repulsive.

America has always been a country that makes provisions for matters of individual conscience—provisions such as exempting Quakers from military service—but the Obama administration does not appear to concern itself with matters of conscience. The reason government regulations are so appealing to liberals is that regulations allow them to force their morality—or lack of morality—on others who hold a different worldview. Like most government regulations, the contraception mandate takes the one-size-fits-all approach and, in so doing, forces American taxpayers into a Catch 22 situation: violate the law or violate their moral beliefs.

Perhaps the wackiest government regulation of 2012 came not from the federal government but from city government—specifically New York City. If government regulations were awarded an annual dumb-and-dumber prize, Mayor Bloomberg’s 16-ounce soda limit would have won hands down in 2012. Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg’s motherly concern for the citizens of New York, anyone wishing to drink more than 16 ounces of soda now has to purchase two cups—which is precisely what New Yorkers are doing. Now, instead of drinking just one 16 ounce cup of soda, New Yorkers are drinking two 12 ounce cups. Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg and New York City’s nanny government, New Yorkers are getting even fatter than before. On the other hand, buying two drinks instead of one is good for business. Maybe the 16-ounce soda ban should be re-labeled an economic development strategy.
Runner-up to Mayor Bloomberg’s 16-ounce soda ban for the dumb-and-dumber award is the federal government’s dishwasher-efficiency-regulation, the latest jewel from the U.S. Department of Energy. Even the Department of Energy admits that this new regulation will do little to help the environment. On the other hand, it will do what all such regulations do: increase the price of the product it regulates. In this case the product is a dishwasher, but it might just as well be an automobile, washing machine, air conditioner, refrigerator, freezer, or toilet—all of which are more expensive than they should be because of unnecessary and burdensome government regulations.

Other government regulations passed in 2012 that are now increasing the cost of living and robbing Americans of individual freedom include the new EPA emissions standards for coal and coal-fired electric utilities, the EPA’s new fuel efficiency standards, the Department of Agriculture’s school lunch standards, the National Labor Relations Board’s quickie union election rule, the essential benefits rule that is hidden deep in the bowels of Obamacare, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s proposed new “black box” rule, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s proposed “consumer-friendly” mortgage rule. These burdensome and unnecessary regulations are just the tip of the iceberg. Welcome to the Gulag America. Big brother is watching out for you.