Tea baggers whose lily white faces flare deep red when discussing government regulations should put down their Hitler signs, unstrap their firearms in the garage, and tune into C-Span. What they will witness is a real time picture of how the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) got so thick.

The House of Representatives has been calling witnesses from the firms involved with the Deepwater Horizon accident to give testimony before congress.  What is presently occuring is the fact finding phase of what will no doubt turn into a series of bills and enforcement actions. Representatives are interested in whether or not regulations were ignored and what kinds of gaps there may be in the regs.

The BP-Transocean oil spill just off the mouth of the Mississippi River has fouled public fisheries and threatened to leave a splash of hydrocarbon “heavies” on vast stretches of beach and estuaries along the Gulf coast. The economic harm to the public and the material insult to the environment is still evolving.

In all likelihood, statutes relating to oil production at sea will be modified as a result of this incident. Good men perished horribly in the fire and sinking of a drilling vessel which was registered in the Marshall Islands and operated by an “American” company based in Switzerland. Changes in safety requirements, if not implemented by the industry, will certainly be mandated by federal law.

This is how most government regulation seems to accumulate. It is by stimulus and response. A bad event happens or somebody games the system for their own gain and people are harmed. Elected representatives respond by writing statutes that cover the circumstance and anticipate related problems.  Eventually, the new regs will be published in the Federal Review and some agency will be required to promulgate the changes.

Federal law accumulates like rime ice on the leading edge of an airplane wing in a storm.  Eventually the accumulation becomes so onerous that the airplane can no longer fly. It’s like death by a thousand cuts.  Unfortunately, the constitution does not mandate a sunset feature or the periodic review and streamlining of regulations. 

I suppose it is more titillating for teabaggers to imagine a cabal of preening liberals sipping Pinot Grigio and pulling the strings of their liberal agenda. You know, manditory spanish language and gay studies in the elementary schools. But for now, everyone is working on this oil problem.