A Day in the Life of Federal Regulations
From the second you open your eyes in the morning, your life is full of federal regulations. Congress writes laws and leaves it to government agencies to write the rules — or regulations — to enforce those laws. That iPhone you use as an alarm clock — it’s been certified by the Federal Trade Commission, which makes sure all phones sold in the United States comply with guidelines on radio frequency energy emission levels. And? And its signal comes from towers approved by the Federal Communications Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, and even the Federal Aviation Administration. That’s a lot of information first thing in the morning. The Environmental Protection Agency sets specific safety standards for the water that comes out of your faucet and requires new faucets to flow at no more than two and a half gallons per minute. Hmm. Ah, soap! What now? To be considered soap, that bar needs to meet specific criteria from the Food and Drug Administration. Then its ingredients are inspected by the Consumer Product Safety Commission to make sure what you’re using is actually soap. It is. Are you sure? If that bar claims to alter the appearance of your skin by moisturizing or beautifying, it could be considered a cosmetic and the FDA hardly regulates those at all. Wait, what? Mmm breakfast — the most regulated meal of the morning! Uh oh. The Federal Trade Commission regulates every single word on your box of cereal from the size of the type on the nutritional information panel to the adjectives used to describe it. Those Healthy Wheat O’s can’t be called “healthy” without FTC approval. That actually makes a lot of sense. Doesn’t it? Yeah. But wait, there’s more. That banana you’ve got there? It had to be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate that states it was grown, packed, inspected, and found to be free of quarantine pests. That sounds like a lot of hoopla for a banana. And that hoopla can cause goods to be more expensive but it can also make what we buy and use safer. Ok, I get it. There are federal regulations everywhere and they’re here to help us. Well, that’s the intention. And do you know how many regulations there are? Lots? There are over 170,000 dense pages in the most recent code of federal regulations. That means it would take you more than three years of 40-hour work weeks to read through it. Well, speaking of work, I’m going to be late. You think there are a lot of regulations in here — just wait until you get outside.