Hugh Hewitt: Regulation costs jobs, slows growth

May 25, 2010 06:09

How many jobs have been lost to, or not created because of, the enormous costs to manufacturers of 2008’s Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act? How many more jobs are being sacrificed to employers’ uncertainty about the effect of Obamacare?

Hugh Hewitt at Washington Examiner

Tens of thousands of construction industry jobs have been lost to the combined effects of the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

And now the Environmental Protection Agency is wielding a seven-decade-old statute in radical new ways that will cost many more jobs unless the agency is checked, and soon.

You have probably never heard of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, but earlier this month the EPA levied fines totaling $500,000 on four manufacturers, including the maker of North Face outdoor gear, for claiming their products provided “antimicrobial protection.”

“We’re seeing more and more consumer products making a wide variety of antimicrobial claims,” said Katherine Taylor, associate director of the Communities and Ecosystems Division in the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region.

“Whether they involve shoes, headphones, or household fixtures, the EPA takes these unsubstantiated public health claims very seriously.”

It is uncertain whether the products sanctioned by the feds actually did provide any antimicrobial protection.

“While the North Face, Califone, and Saniguard products all incorporated EPA-registered silver-based antimicrobial compounds to protect them against deterioration,” the EPA’s news release noted, “they were never tested or registered to protect consumers against bacteria, fungus, mold, and/or mildew.”

And there you have the nanny state in all its fury: no testing! No registration! No proof of a marketing claim of “antimicrobial protection.”

Whatever the merits of the manufacturers’ claims, it is difficult to see a significant threat to public health or safety in the advertising that brought down the wrath of the EPA on these companies.

It is easy, on the other hand, to see the cost of the fines, and the almost certain additional significant costs for lawyers and other staff who had to deal with the problem. It is easy to imagine the cost of new marketing materials and of increased regulatory compliance.

And it doesn’t take long to conclude that such damages to a company’s bottom line mean jobs lost because of those increased costs.


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