The Jungle of Red Tape and How to Beat It Back

November 1, 2022 8:32AM

Other than “tax increase,” few terms rile up Americans more than “red tape.” Like a vine or weed that spreads out of control, the idea of red tape conjures up visions of a fast- and ever-growing jungle of rigid, excessive, and bureaucratic rules or regulations that can bring action grinding to a halt. While red tape is common in corporations or other large organizations, it’s most often found in government circles. Over the past 50 years, the number of regulations federal government agencies enforce has increased from 400,000 to over one million.

And these regulations have consequences: for example, the national average regulatory cost for a new business in its first year is more than $83,000. But this byzantine maze of regulations is not confined solely to the federal government. In addition to the more than one million federal requirements, businesses, organizations, and individuals must also comply with state regulations. Here in Tennessee, it would take an individual spending 40 hours a week for 11 weeks to read all of Tennessee’s 114,000-plus regulations, totaling more than eight million words.

In recent years, Tennessee policymakers have sought to place some guardrails on rules and regulations to protect small businesses and everyday citizens. However, for those looking not just to curtail the growth, but reverse the administrative state to protect Tennesseans and create an environment that fosters economic growth and innovation, a host of potential reforms are available to both implement new protections and enhance the tools already in law. By taking a “Count, Cap, and Cut” approach, providing additional regulatory flexibility, and further shifting the burden of proof to the government, Tennessee can not only contain, but cut down the growing jungle of red tape and reduce the impact of bureaucracy in Tennessee.