Regulations; Pro or con?

I have written many times about overburdensome regulations:

There are literally hundreds of thousands of regulations and people like you and me can get into serious trouble just going about our daily business.

I could go on, but today we will look at the logic of “regulation.” Whenever I say to my liberal friends that we are over regulated they always cite “safety” or “the environment.” Without regulations, they contend, workers would be dying by the thousands and the United States would be a pigsty.

OK. Let’s look at apples. Clearly apples are a major health hazard. Picking apples is extremely dangerous – you’ve probably picked an apple at some time in your life, so you understand the remarkable dangers involved. And those apple cores! God forbid a citizen should be subjected to seeing an apple core! Where is my safe space?!?!?

While apples in general must be severely regulated because of the dangers to the workforce and environment, you can barely imagine the dangers surrounding an apple that is “extra fancy!” Better have a large law firm in your employ if your children plan to sell an “extra fancy” apple they picked from your backyard apple tree at a curbside stand in front of your home.

[Source: From Apples to Soup: How the Administrative State Creates Food Crimes, by David Rosenthal] – the following is from the Rosenthal article – and please click on the links for a visual lesson in REGULATION:

‘Extra Fancy’ Apples

(When it comes to “extra fancy apples”) the administrative state regulates the produce aisle, right down to the coloration of individual apples (7 C.F.R. § 51.305).

Different varieties of apples must meet different color tests: McIntosh apples must be at least 50 percent red to be categorized as Extra Fancy; Red Delicious apples must be at least 66 percent red to receive the same Extra Fancy status.

The Department of Agriculture provides an Index of Official Visual Aids (the table of contents alone is 16 pages long – RF) with official color standards for everything from apple butter to olives. If an apple seller labels a McIntosh apple that is 49 percent red as Extra Fancy, that may run afoul of multiple federal statutes.

First, the federal statute on the secretary of agriculture’s regulatory duties (7 U.S.C. § 1622(h)(4)) makes a knowing violation of the color codes and other food regulations a criminal offense subject to a fine of up to $1,000 and imprisonment for up to one year.

Another layer of potential criminal liability is added by federal false statements law, which criminalizes telling a lie in connection with any matter that falls under the jurisdiction of an ever-expanding U.S. government. It imposes a penalty of up to five years’ imprisonment for each lie.

Former Justice Department official Stephen Saltzburg says the false statements law “is so vague that harmless misstatements,” not unlike the precise redness of an apple, “can be turned into federal felonies.”

Maybe you had better advise the kids not to open a curbside stand to sell apples from your apple tree. The legal expenses can be staggering! And if you think that everyday citizens going about their business don’t end up afoul of the these “laws,” please read the footnote. And read to the bottom – this citizen got a death sentence!

Roy Filly

Footnote: From: Criminal Law and the Administrative State: The Problem with Criminal Regulations, by John Malcolm

Dr. Peter Gleason is another example of the terrible consequences of regulatory overcriminalization. A Maryland psychiatrist, he dedicated much of his professional life to caring for the poor and underserved.

Dr. Gleason got into trouble when he gave a series of paid lectures about Xyrem, a drug that had been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat narcolepsy but is also used by a number of physicians to treat a variety of other medical conditions… While drug manufacturers are prohibited by law from promoting off-label usages of FDA-approved drugs, physicians face no such restrictions. (Off label uses are very common in medical practice – RF) Doctors may prescribe a drug for off-label purposes and communicate with other physicians about the efficacy of the drug in treating those conditions.

Nonetheless, Dr. Gleason found himself under indictment for allegedly conspiring with some of the drug manufacturer’s representatives to promote off-label usages of Xyrem. The federal government seized Dr. Gleason’s assets, claiming that they were ill-gotten gains traceable to the so-called criminal conspiracy. Although he believed he had done nothing wrong, in order to avoid the possibility of being branded a felon and losing his life’s savings, Dr. Gleason pleaded guilty… Following his guilty plea, state medical authorities suspended Dr. Gleason’s license… Dr. Gleason became increasingly despondent and hanged himself.


About Roy Filly

Please read my first blog in which I describe myself and my goals.
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