How does one measure the productivity of Congress? The official who is weirdly aroused by the thought of passing legislation — even bad legislation — goes with quantity over quality. He doesn’t think about things like the rise of omnibus bills, or even defacto legislation created out of thin air by the administrative state (e.g., the EPA deciding that your property isn’t really yours because you have a water ditch in your back yard). In the mind of a lexiphiliac, bigger is always better. More bureaucracy is “productive,” and less is “unproductive.” And when bills, bills and more bills aren’t passed, they turn to the media to whine about it.

The Washington Post reports:

According to congressional records, there have been fewer than 60 public laws enacted in the first 11 months of this year, so below the previous low in legislative output that officials have already declared this first session of the 113th Congress the least productive ever. In 1995, when the newly empowered GOP congressional majority confronted the Clinton administration, 88 laws were enacted, the record low in the post-World War II era.

Who are these officials? Why aren’t they named? I would love to talk to them. Did the Washington Post interview Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who infamously said of Obamacare that “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it”? If there are officials in Washington, D.C. who seem to think their job is to pass laws for the sake of passing laws, they should be outed immediately.

The Congressional Research Service has admitted that there are so many federal regulations that it can’t even tally them up. Its best guess? “Tens of thousands.” And yet, in the minds of the officials who run to the Washington Post to complain about the 113th Congress, it isn’t enough. There are always more people to control, new activity to monitor and behavior to tax. It never ends.

In the mind of the D.C. bureaucrat, there is never a point of diminishing returns when it comes to drafting legislation. Although most (if not all of us) will break multiple federal regulations during the course of the day without even realizing it, the masterminds and busybodies are not satisfied.

Don’t believe me? There are federal regulations on how much milk fat can be in your eggnog.

From the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:



Subpart B–Requirements for Specific Standardized Milk and Cream

Sec. 131.170 Eggnog.

(a)Description. Eggnog is the food containing one or more of the optional dairy ingredients specified in paragraph (b), one or more of the optional egg yolk-containing ingredients specified in paragraph (c) of this section, and one or more of the optional nutritive carbohydrate sweeteners specified in paragraph (d) of this section. One or more of the optional ingredients specified in paragraph (e) of this section may also be added. All ingredients used are safe and suitable. Eggnog contains not less than 6 percent milkfat and not less than 8.25 percent milk solids not fat. The egg yolk solids content is not less than 1 percent by weight of the finished food. The food shall be pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized and may be homogenized. Flavoring ingredients and color additives may be added after the food is pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized.

Do you think you can get through the holidays without breaking a few laws? I can’t.

The sad thing is, there is someone in the nation’s capital right now who is lobbying Congress for the resources necessary to better enforce Sec. 131.170 of Title 21 this Christmas season. If you doubt that, I will bring everything full circle by citing once more the Washington Post’s ‘113th Congress, going down in history for its inaction, has a critical December to-do list.’ Question: Why are politicians so obsessed with dairy products?

From the confirmation of a new Federal Reserve chairman to the expiration of dairy pricing rules, House and Senate leaders head into the final month of 2013 with a checklist that is short but critical. But even a final burst of activity would do little to change the historic arc of this calendar year under the Capitol dome. …

Congress must at least pass some form of an extension of farm laws by year’s end or face the threat of havoc in the agriculture markets, particularly dairy, which could lead to price shocks on milk.

All hell would apparently break loose if the government didn’t meddle with (i.e., subsidize) the dairy industry. Do you buy it? I don’t. In fact, you might want to ponder why, exactly, the USDA recommends that you drink three cups of low-fat milk per day… Remember, these are the same people who gave us the food pyramid — that encouraged obesity.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll make myself some eggnog with 5% milkfat and sell it to a friend (who will be none-the-wiser that he just ran afoul of Johnny Law)…


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