National Directory of
Environmental and Regulatory Victims

(Abbreviated 1996 Edition)

 

 To download the complete 2000 edition of our National Directory of Environmental and Regulatory Victims, click here.

 To download the complete 1998 edition of our National Directory of Environmental and Regulatory Victims, click here.

 

An abbreviated edition of the National Directory of Environmental and Regulatory Victims, published October 1996 by The National Center for Public Policy Research, 777 N. Capitol St NE #803, Washington, D.C. 20002, (202) 543-4110, Fax (202)543-5975, E-Mail [email protected], Web http://www.nationalcenter.org. Copies of the complete directory (detailing over 100 victim stories) are available for $12 per copy (free to media). Excerpts may be reprinted provided source is credited.

 

 

Introduction

Much of the debate over regulatory reform has focused on the tremendous costs regulations impose on the economy. Estimates of these costs range from $400 billion to $1 trillion each year. But these figures don't begin to tell the complete story. They can't, for example, tell us how an elderly couple copes with the loss of a retirement nest egg -- regulated away by government. They can't tell us about the tough decisions young families must make because the industries they depend on for jobs have become politically-unpopular and have been targeted for intensive regulation. And they can't tell us about the many small businesses that have closed their doors because the regulatory regime has become so complicated, so confusing that only the largest companies with teams of legal and regulatory experts are equipped to comply with every regulation that applies to them.

To follow are just a few stories of personal tragedy resulting from regulatory excess. Some tell the stories of victims of ill-conceived or poorly written laws. Others describe people who have become victims of the complicated web of confusing and sometimes contradictory regulations. Other tales tell of the victims of all-or-nothing regulations that too often leave people with nothing. Still other stories are about victims of outright abuse by government officials.

By offering these stories, The National Center for Public Policy Research's Environmental Policy Task Force hopes to contribute to the better understanding of regulation -- and the people whose lives they touch.

 

Regulating Minorities Out of Jobs

The Chicago Office of the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) has charged the Koch Poultry Company with discrimination. The company's crime? It had too many Hispanic employees. It seems that as Koch Poultry grew, employees would recommend friends and family members for job openings in the company. Eventually, the company grew to 300 employees, more than 90 percent of whom were Hispanic. According to the EEOC, hiring through word of mouth is an "inherently discriminatory" practice -- even if it results in employment opportunities for some of America's most disadvantaged citizens.

Government Creates, Then Regulates Ghost Town

Mayor Brent Mackelprang of Fredonia, Arizona knows all-too-well how Washington bureaucrats can transform a thriving community of 1200 souls into a ghost town. Not only has his community lost nearly 300 jobs at the local sawmill -- closed due to the listing of the Mexican Spotted Owl and the Northern Goshawk as "threatened" species -- the Environmental Protection Agency is now mandating that it construct a regional landfill at a cost of $570,000. Thanks to the EPA's unfunded mandate for the dump and the town's vanishing tax base, Mayor Mackelprang is being forced to raise taxes on those remaining in the once-booming timber town.

Small Town Pay High Price for
Federal Fluoride Treatment

For 75 years, residents of Manson, Iowa have enjoyed their water -- without additives -- without adverse health effect. Despite the town's healthy record, the city was ordered by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to reduce the natural level of fluoride in its drinking water by less than one milligram per liter to comply with federal rules. The unfunded mandate required a reverse osmosis treatment plant that cost $700,000. Since the small town didn't qualify for grants, it was forced to rely on a bond issue to build the plant. This limited the city's ability to raise funds for other projects, including sanitation projects, and road and sewer repair. Additionally, water rates had to be raised by over 45% just to cover the plant's operational costs, followed by a property tax increase to pay off the water bonds. Worst of all, this tiny town's once naturally clean drinking water is now treated with five chemicals a day.

Diabetics' Pain Continues, Thanks to FDA

Imagine pricking your finger for a blood sample several times a day because you are diabetic and your life depends on it. Now imagine that there's a new medical device available that accurately tests your glucose levels using light energy -- and, most important, without the painful prick. Biocontrol Technology, a Pittsburgh-based medical device manufacturer, has developed such a device. But instead of seriously evaluating the new product's merits, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has placed a higher priority on bureaucratic process -- delaying evaluation and approval for over two years. Perhaps FDA officials would be more inclined to action, not bureaucracy, if their fingers were the ones being pricked for blood.

Regulation Throws Homeless Back Out
on the Street

The Union Gospel Mission in Portland, Oregon found a great way to help the homeless: it dedicated a portion of its facility to serve as an overnight clinic for those recently released from hospital care. With relapses common for those homeless with physical and mental problems due to the harsh conditions on the street, the Mission thought that providing a little extra care would go a long way towards rehabilitation. Unfortunately, the Oregon State Department of Health requires 24 hour nursing supervision in such facilities. Because the clinic couldn't afford such supervision, the clinic was forced to close, forcing the homeless back onto the street. Thanks to the state's "all or nothing" policy, the homeless were left with nothing.

A Minimum Wage For the Rich

A minimum wage isn't just for poor folks anymore: Now professionals can benefit from government socialism too. The Department of Labor (through the Service Contract Act) mandates that a fixed minimum wage be paid to professional workers by government contractors. Edward Wenger, owner of a computer analysis firm in Roslyn, New York recently told the White House Conference on Small Business that the government's reliance on price fixing instead of market forces kills jobs. When he's forced to pay a professional such as an engineer an artificially high wage dictated by the government, the effect is one of reducing his ability to hire other employees -- often lower paid non-professionals. The regulation is a catch-22: If Wenger doesn't pay the fixed wage, he loses the government's business.

Making a Victim of Communism and
Nazism Feel At Home

Iowa bureaucrats can make even a victim of Communism and Nazism feel right at home?

"I was born and grew up under the Nazi and Communist systems," said Saul Herscovici, a Romanian-born businessman from Waterloo, Iowa. "I am more frightened by a federal inspector on my property than my father was when a Nazi or Communist came on his property."

Herscovici has launched his own personal crusade against Iowa's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) since 1993, when he was fined $2,500 for putting a power cord on a spool and hanging it on a hook. OSHA dropped the fine in November 1993, but Herscovici continues his public campaign.

Father Could Face Jail Time for
Protecting Son From Deadly Snakes

An Arkansas father faces possible jail time after he took steps to protect his son from potentially-deadly snake bites. The Arkansan lives in a neighborhood that has a covenant requiring property owners to keep their lawns trimmed. Not only does the rule require property owners to keep their grass and weeds within six inches of the ground surface, it also gives them the right to cut the grass of their neighbors, at the neighbor's expense, if they don't maintain their property. So when the Arkansan's son was bitten by a copperhead snake that came from adjoining property that had become overgrown with vegetation, he acted quickly to enforce the covenant, thereby ensuring that his son wouldn't be bitten by a snake again. In fact, he continued to cut the grass -- at no charge -- for several years. The only problem was that his neighbor was the federal government. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took him to court for the "unauthorized modification of vegetation cover on federal lands." Found guilty of the misdemeanor, this Arkansan now awaits a possible sentence of a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Regulation Leaves Birds Homeless

Regulations can leave even birds in the cold. Construction of such simple structures as bird houses, bird feeders and flag poles can be forbidden without a permit if within eye shot of a river designated as a Wild and Scenic River.

"When the Lower Wisconsin Riverway Law was implemented, no structures were allowed that were visible from the Wisconsin River," said one Wisconsin property owner. "This included flag poles, bird houses, bird feeders, etc. [However,] I was granted a permit to put up a 22x14 inch bird feeder on the condition that I plant a fast growing tree in front of my house. [Later,] I was threatened with fines of $1500 per day for erecting a flag pole. After two American Legion and one VFW [honor] squads were present for the flag pole dedication, the state attorney general quickly ruled that flag poles were not structures."

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 To download the 2000 edition of our National Directory of Environmental and Regulatory Victims, click here.

 To download the 1998 edition of our National Directory of Environmental and Regulatory Victims, click here.

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