The morning after Great Britain’s June 23 Brexit referendum, a leader of the Leave campaign, former London mayor Boris Johnson, said that British voters “decided that it is time to take back control from a European Union that has become too remote, too opaque, and not accountable enough to the people it is meant to serve.”
The same could be said about Washington, D.C.’s distant, stealthy, impervious bureaucracy. Just as Britain Brexited Brussels, America should Amerexit the Beltway.
Brussels repelled Britons, in part, by relentlessly pelting them with expensive, pointless regulations surreal enough to make a Magritte resemble a Gainsborough.
Perhaps most notoriously, Brussels requires that all bananas in the EU must be “free from malformation or abnormal curvature.” And how does one define “abnormal?” Please consult EU Commission Regulation 1333/2011. Achieving a nearly erotic level of absurdity, this rule stretches to 4,465 words.
Consider these other outrages, courtesy of the pro-Brexit campaign, Vote Leave.
The EU forced the United Kingdom to impose a value-added tax when it joined in 1973. Brussels mandates that British consumers pay a VAT of at least 5 percent on numerous goods, including tampons and condoms.
But Brussels does not solely target intimate products. According to Vote Leave, “the European Commission referred the Dutch government to the European Court of Justice for allowing exemptions on boat moorings” on which Holland hoped to reduce VAT.
The European Food Safety Authority made it “illegal to say that drinking water stops dehydration.”
Brussels’s Habitats Directive, London conceded, prevents contractors from “building the homes that Britain needs.”
A new EU rule would force restaurants to replace refillable table-top olive-oil bottles with individual, tamper-proof containers.
In a brilliant scene from Brexit: The Movie, an Englishman wakes up and prepares for work. His household products yield to a staggering spectrum of EU commands. His alarm clock is affected by eleven such orders. Toothpaste, 47. His showerhead, 91. Shampoo, 118. And the oversight accelerates as he eats breakfast. His orange juice is squeezed by 202 edicts. Coffee, 625. Bread, 1,246. And milk traverses a mind-blowing 12,653 different regulations between the cow’s udders and the Briton’s lips. All before he steps outside.
The House of Commons Library estimates that 60 percent of British laws began as EU directives. Brussels costs Britain roughly $45 billion annually – or a population-adjusted $225 billion here.
Of course, we’ve seen this movie, too. America also suffers from hyperactive bureaucratic micro-mismanagement.