Government Regulation of the Economy Is the 'Silent Killer'

But that's not the half of the couple's problems. Even if they were both working, the silent killer would take its toll in the form of additional expenses $5,000 more -- each year -- larger than their entire medical budget. Had they known this, they would have begged the president to forget about ObamaCare and get this relentless and remorseless killer out of their lives.

The silent killer in this story is federal regulation of the economy. Its estimated annual cost of $1.75 trillion is about two-thirds that of the tax burden. Sam and Karen, although fictional, are based in part on averages obtained from a recent report (PDF) prepared for the Small Business Administration on the impact of federal regulations on the United States economy. Notably omitted from the report are the additional costs of state and local regulations, as well as snowballing effects, such as lost opportunities and a slower pace of innovation.

Focused on the big picture of the carnage, the report also doesn't discuss in concrete detail the regulations themselves or how they affect ordinary citizens. But that information is out there for anyone who hasn't experienced it first-hand.

New appliance regulations issued by the Obama administration eloquently demonstrate how thoroughly saturated with regulations our lives have become. (The Department of Energy estimates price increases for water heaters of  $67 to $974, depending on size and type.) And Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus fleshes out the the havoc regulations wreak in the daily lives of ordinary Americans. That former entrepreneur has come out of retirement to warn us about how dire things really are. For example, many small businessmen are indeed having to choose between putting lifelong friends out on the streets -- or closing up shop.

Public service announcements about silent killers usually end by stressing the need to identify a problem in order to solve it. I hope that by now, you have a new appreciation for the widespread menace posed by government regulation of the economy. But as important as public awareness is, it is only the first step in stopping this silent killer. It is up to us, the voting public, to consistently demand that politicians take steps to dismantle the state regulatory apparatus, and hold them to their word at each election cycle. We must alert other voters to this threat, and we must work to make American political culture highly suspicious of government meddling in the economy. This last is as important as regulation is now pervasive. But should we attain such a goal, Washington will eventually lose the urge to set rules for every nook and cranny of our lives