How free are we really?

Nine hundred new laws are too many

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently said she worked in a bipartisan effort to sign into effect more than 900 new laws during her first term. She actually meant it as an accomplishment. And this is why one has to ask, “Just how free are we, really?” This is a question every citizen in the state should have asked after the circus of Michigan’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There’s no doubt some laws are needed for the protection of citizens. Would you trust your drinking water if the plumbing was done by someone who figured out how to plumb using YouTube videos? Would you trust an amateur electrician to wire your house? Of course not.

So when do politicians and bureaucrats decide how much regulation is enough? Some of the punitive laws on the books suggest that the politicians themselves don’t know where to draw the line.

Do you want to pay your friend to cut your hair? Don’t let the government find out, or your friend could be charged with a misdemeanor. It takes 1,500 hours of training before the state will permit your friend to cut your hair for pay. What was the thought process behind this seemingly arbitrary number, or the decision to require the license at all? If I trust someone to cut my hair and that person screws it up, is this a life-threatening situation? Hair grows back, and that person would be out of a job. Problem solved.

Did your friend give you a great massage? That’s great for you! Just don’t pay your friend, because it takes 500 hours in Michigan to professionally massage another human. Why is the state regulating whom I choose to let rub my muscles?

The state will also use valuable time and money to protect the paint job on your house. Painters in the state are required to put in 10 times as many hours as auto mechanics to be legally allowed to paint your house. If your auto mechanic doesn’t do his job, you could lose your life. If your painter does a poor job you will lose a good view.

But don’t worry, the state isn’t here to just protect your skin, home decor and hair. It will also decide who is qualified to look after your children. After all, you are just the parent. Sweet Linda next door is a grandma who raised numerous kids and cared for her grandkids. She just adores your little Johnny and would be happy to watch him a few days a week while you work a part-time job. But she can’t. The state of Michigan would punish if she were paid to watch your child. You see, although she managed to keep her kids and grandkids alive, the state needs to give her a piece of paper and a list of rules to follow so she can keep your kids alive, too.

According to a study by Morris Kleiner at the University of Minnesota, it was reported in 2017 that regulations in Michigan cost 125,000 jobs per year. And the average family had to pay another $2,700 per year due to less competition. In fact, it was noted that Michiganders pay up to 30% more on licensed services than they otherwise would.

Perhaps lawmakers should make a law that for every law they make, they must repeal one. Such as Act 328 of 1931, “Punishment—Any man who shall seduce and debauch any unmarried woman shall be guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment in the state prison not more than 5 years or by fine of not more than 2,500 dollars; but no prosecution shall be commenced under this section after 1 year from the time of committing the offense.”

They could also look at the blasphemy and cursing laws that would probably now land the majority of citizens in hot water if it were enforced.

We all had a wake-up call when the COVID-19 pandemic struck and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wielded all of the authority she could muster to keep stores from selling gardening seeds. Before the pandemic, even people knowledgeable about public policy did not realize there was a law that gave the governor so much authority. (The Michigan Supreme Court, thankfully, eventually ruled that law unconstitutional.)

Before the pandemic, most of us also didn’t know that health department bureaucrats could take over those powers after they were stripped from the governor — and still enforce her edicts. A lot of people lost their livelihoods as a result.

So when the same governor who told you that you cannot use your boat if it has a motor brags about a bipartisan effort to usher in 900 new laws, every citizen should sit up, take notice, and ensure that more of our freedoms are not being eroded.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.