Humpday News Chum: The Impact of Government Regulations

Today’s lunchtime news chum looks at four articles, all exploring, in one way or another, the effects that our increased regulatory environment are having on people:

  • From the “Baby Gonna Drive My Car” Department: The Chicago Tribune has an article about how more 16-year-olds are alive… because fewer of them are driving at age 16. Evidently, according to the article, one of the reasons are the increasingly complex licensing requirements, as well as how busy kids are (so that they don’t have time to take the required courses). This is something I’ve certainly seen here in California. In my youth, everyone got their Learner’s Permit at 15½, and their license at 16. It was a rite of passage. Today? Most of my daughter’s over-16 friends aren’t driving, and they don’t seem to be bothered by it. In related driving news, Saudi Arabian women are threatening to breastfeed their drivers unless they are permitted to drive their own cars. I’ll let you complete the joke…
  • From the “Us fellers is only the pynters, a-pyntin’ the ‘alls and the stairs” Department: Thinking of renovating your house. It is going to get more expensive or take more time, due to new regulations. The New York Times is reporting how a new regulation designed to shield children from lead paint requires professional painters to now take extra measures that could double the cost of renovations. This applies to any professional painting job greater than 6 ft2 in a house built before 1978. They require that all professional renovation projects such homes that test positive for lead have to meet federal guidelines and be performed by workers certified in lead-safe practices. Furniture and equipment has to be wrapped in plastic at least 6 mils thick (a typical kitchen trash bag is around 1 mil). Floors, doorways and windows have to be lined with plastic and workers must wear protective gear. There are also special vacuums needed for cleanup, costing as much as $850. Training and certification classes cost roughly $180 to $250 per student, and a business would have to pay an additional $300 to register as certified. None of this applies, of cousre, if you do the work yourself.
  • From the “Everybody Gotta Get Stoned” Department: It isn’t just lead that is a problem. Serpentine may be stripped of its title as “State Rock of California” because it contains chrysotile asbestos (other California state things). According to Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles), who introduced SB 624, “California should not designate a rock known to be toxic to the health of its residents as the state’s official rock.” Serpentine was defined as the state rock in 1965. It is a metamorphic rock composed of common rock-forming hydrous magnesium iron phyllosilicate ((Mg, Fe)3Si2O5(OH)4) minerals that may contain other elements including chromium, manganese, cobalt and nickel. Serpentine is formed via the hydration and metamorphic transformation of ultrafamic rock from the earth’s mantle, which occurs at tectonic plate boundaries. Serpentine soils are often associated with gold mineral deposits in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and therefore a part of California’s gold rush history.
  • From the “I’m Forty Years Old and Living in My Mom’s Garage” Department: Unpermitted additions. We’ve all seen them. We’ve possible bought houses with them. Ever wonder what the cost is to get them fixed? This article from the LA Business Journal will tell you. It discusses how one person spent 9 years and over 22,000 trying to get an addition permitted, and may end up just tearing it out because there doesn’t appear to be anyway to succeed. Yes, the addition is to code, but the parts of the city are feuding with each other and are refusing to work together to solve the problem, and the council and mayor appear helpless to intervene.