top of page

Over Regulation Stymies U.S. Development; More Negotiation Needed.

We are the most regulated country in the world and we can’t regulate assault rifles.

- Piers Morgan

The U.S. is so regulated; California is so regulated, that we are stymied. We can’ t do anything “big” these days.

There’s got to be something between authoritarian government that tells everyone what to do and a representative government that can’t do anything at all.


Verb: Overregulate - to regulate (something) to an excessive degree

According to Gallup's Governance Poll:

- 39% of Americans believe that there is too many regulations in US.

- 53% of Americans believe the federal government is too powerful.

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) records all federal regulations totaling 103,000,000 words with 1.08 million regulatory restrictions.

Most would agree that some regulations are necessary to implement the laws passed by U.S. Congress or state legislatures. Regrettably today, the U.S. as a country and states + the District of Columbia are overregulated. There are so many regulations that often actions are frozen or stymied. If the US wants to be effective and efficient, there needs to be some control over these regulations.

Why is it that the Empire State Building could be built in 13 months almost a century ago, while it took New York 13 years to rebuild the World Trade Center at the turn of the new century?

Why does it cost $7 billion to dig a mile long rail tunnel in New York, while the same length of subway in Spain, Italy or South Korea costs less than $250 million per mile?

Over Regulated California

We are the most regulated state in the nation with more than 395,000 regulatory restrictions. It is a constant nightmare of inspectors and permits and fees. In this state, if you get to your car 10 seconds after the parking meter expires, it’s already gone and you’ll never see it again.

In the Washington Post, Commentator George F. Will describes a regulatory system on housing that has “congealed construction.” “Home building has declined by 3.7%.” In California, the median price of a home is almost 10x the state’s median household income, compared to Texas, 3.7%.

The 2019 California Code of Regulations (CCR) has 395,129 restrictions and 21.2 million words. It would take roughly 1,176 hours, or more than 29 weeks, to read them all assuming a pace of reading 300 words a minute in a 40 hour-week, Mercatus says.

The CCR is in addition to the more than 1.09 million additional restrictions in the federal code, all of which individuals and businesses must understand and follow to remain compliant, the center adds.

“Nearly 104 million words and 1.09 million restrictions in the federal code significantly understate the true scope of regulation in the United States,” authors of the analysis write. “States like California write millions of additional words of regulation and hundreds of thousands of additional restrictions. State-level requirements carry the force of law to restrict individuals and businesses just as federal ones do.”

The Mercatus Center developed State RegData, a platform for analyzing and quantifying state regulatory text.

Case Example: Bill Maher, Real Time, Solar Panels

Maher decided he wanted solar for his home. He got it after 3 years along with six months of public complaining.

In the end, per Twitter, Maher gave special thanks to Sunrun and for getting involved and cutting through the mounds of red tape. Thanks also to for getting it turned on after 1131 days of trying to do so.

District of Columbia Has Become a Nanny State-Overregulation

DC elected government officials seem to believe that they know best for the residents so they pass regulation after regulation depriving many of basic choices. This approach is quite maternalistic, condescending, and insulting. This approach treats residents as too stupid, too incompetent to make wise decisions.

The Mercatus Center of George Mason University reports that DC has 137,000 regulatory restrictions in its regulatory text. This amount of city regulations can be compared with entire states of Virginia at 140K and Maryland 138K.


- DC has banned flavored tobacco and menthol cigarettes. Government calls this a public health accomplishment.

- DC essentially has banned plastic bags, Styrofoam, and plastic straws declaring that these clog the waterways, completely ignoring the existing littering laws.

- One government agency demanded that several bars ban glasses after certain hours so that patrons cannot use them as weapons.

During the height of the COVID-19 crisis, the Mayor issued rules:

- Alcoholic drinks could not be served to a standing customer.

- Customers could not sit on bar stools.

- Gyms had to take guest temperatures (although the science indicates that only 25% of COVID patients have temperatures and when they do, it may only be for 2 days).

- One bar manager declared that the mayor banned high volume music during happy hour.

- Before Lyft and Uber, DC taxis were the only game in town and DC seemingly regulated them almost out of existence today. DC even required that they all be painted in the same colors (for no really good reason except New York City had done so).

All of this has the result of over-policing, over-regulation, over-interference of government into residents’ everyday lives.

Over Policing Examples:

A fifteen year old Latina was selling plantain chips on a neighborhood sidewalk. Suddenly the police were involved and this teenager along with her ten year-old brother were on the ground with police threats of taking them to jail and taking the mother to Department of Children and Family Services. The police intervened because the teen did not have a vendor license and was a minor. This was surely not community policing.

One Dupont Circle clothing store had hired male models to display underwear in their show windows. Suddenly the police arrived and shut them down. The next day it was ruled that this police activity was totally unnecessary.

Police were called about a sleeping man in his car along very busy New York Avenue. Police arrived and tapped on the window. They noticed a gun in the driver’s belt. The car began moving away. The police shot 10x and killed the driver.

DC Example: Recreational Marijuana Legalized BUT with Regulations

So, A goes to the local Herb Shop. ID is checked. iPhone is locked up. A pays $70 for one tea bag and then is led over to the “gift” display box. A is then gifted a small bottle of liquid marijuana. Society must be laughing at these antics?

DC Example: Let’s Study This instead of Taking Action.

An intersection in the District of Columbia is a problem. Even emergency vehicles get stuck there for minutes. Uber drivers complain about it constantly. There is an easy solution: Remove two of the parking spaces on the south side of one street.

-The Mayor’s Office is informed. Reaction: "We shall take this under advisement."

- Council Member’s Office is informed. Reaction: "We shall send our constituent services person to review it."

-Neighborhood Commissioner is informed. Reaction: "We shall study this."

14 months later, no action.


Surely there is no comparisons between “Nannylike jurisdictions” as California/District of Columbia and China’s President Xi Jinping; albeit, these involve powerful people who believe they know what is best for others and are pushing these thoughts into people’s personal lives.

The three industries with the highest estimates of restrictions in the 2019 CCR are administrative and support services; professional, scientific, and technical services (which includes legal services, accounting and tax preparation, and a variety of other professional services); and insurance carriers and related activities, RegData found.

The states that are the most regulated are Ohio, California, New York, Illinois, and Texas, with South Dakota being the least regulated.

One must wonder: What is the impact of this over-regulated condition on U.S. economic growth and well-being?


See Recommended Books under “Blogs” drop down menu. Clicking on any book will lead one to the discounted Amazon site.

Roy J. Lewicki is the author of 'Essentials of Negotiation', published 2015 under ISBN 9780077862466 and ISBN 0077862465. Publisher: McGraw Hill Higher Education

The Conflict Resolution Training Program, Leader’s Manual, ISBN: 0-7879-6077-2. Prudence Bowman Kestner and Larry Ray

5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.

Getting Your Way Every Day.


bottom of page