What We Need: The Decrapinator

By | May 16, 2019 | 1 Comments

Image result for trump federal regulations
Code of Federal Regulations

Some time ago, I was listening to Leo Laporte, the “tech guy,” on the radio. A caller complained that his new smart phone came loaded with dozens of “apps,” most of which he didn’t want. Even worse, much of the phone’s memory was taken up by these “apps.” Laporte’s advice was to download software that allows the user to uninstall the unwanted “apps.” He laughingly called this software “The Decrapinator.”

I don’t have a smart phone. I have an old flip phone that makes calls nicely, thank you. I prefer to maintain situational awareness by looking up at the world around me, rather than looking down at tiny icons. But the idea of The Decrapinator stuck in my mind. Wouldn’t it be great if we had such a device to use in real life?

The “United” Nations.

The U.N. has an enormous, top-heavy bureaucracy, which uses colossal amounts of money, time, and effort, in order to produce…what? If you look at the recent membership on the Human Rights Commission, you will find nations that show absolutely no respect for human rights. And if you look at the Commission on the Status of Women, you will find nations that are openly misogynistic.

Are human rights more respected now? Is the status of women better? Is the Middle East at peace? Have Iran and North Korea given up their nuclear ambitions and their threats against their neighbors? Has Syria given up its poison gas? We need a forum to discuss the differences between nations. But do we also need the bloated, corrupt, ineffective bureaucracy? Surely New York City could use the extra parking spaces.

The Internal Revenue Service.

Clearly, the government needs our taxes to run. But do we really need an Internal Revenue Code so complex and so voluminous that no one – not a tax lawyer, not a CPA – can fully understand it? Do we really need a host of bureaucrats empowered to enquire into our e-mails, our meetings, and even the content of our prayers? Do we really need a bureaucracy so powerful, but so poorly supervised, that harassment of political opponents of the Obama administration could go on for years?


Years ago, we talked about medical care, indicating that doctors were the people responsible. Then we talked about health care, to give more credit to nurses, aides, technicians, and paramedics. But now we talk about healthcare, combining words as if we were speaking German. This should have reminded us that the modern welfare state was invented in Germany by Bismarck. Is he your idea of a health-care provider?

This should have alerted us to the fact that in the European system, government bureaucrats, not doctors, are in charge. This should have warned us that the lives of ourselves and our families would be at the mercy (if any) of remote, faceless, unelected bureaucrats enforcing a mountain of incomprehensible regulations. But we didn’t notice.

So we sat in mute apathy when – without debate – the Democrats passed ObamaCare “so we could find out what is in it.” Well, now we are finding out, and the majority of us are not pleased. Not only is ObamaCare and the host of regulations it is spawning too huge and complex for any human being to understand, but we cannot even agree on precisely how many pages the whole thing comprises.

Thus we have a repeat of our unhappy experience with the IRS. An army of faceless, poorly supervised bureaucrats will enforce an Everest of incomprehensible and sometimes contradictory regulations. And to add insult to injury, this monstrosity will be enforced by 16,000 new IRS agents.

If the aim was to insure the uninsured, we could have passed a much shorter, much simpler, much less expensive, much less intrusive bill, one that provided subsidies to help people afford health insurance. But the real aim was to snoop into virtually all aspects of our lives, and then to control our lives.

Politicians and bureaucrats.

Laws, regulations, and paperwork aren’t the only things that accumulate to excess. So do politicians. But if we had term limits for members of Congress, this would leave the permanent bureaucracy in an even more powerful position. If the IRS scandals don’t trouble you, think about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Most BATFE agents are hard-working, competent, even courageous. But the higher ranks of the organization were responsible for Ruby Ridge, Waco, and Fast and Furious. If those debacles don’t worry you, perhaps you just don’t understand the situation.

In some cities, police up to the rank of captain are under civil service. But the higher ranks up to chief serve at the pleasure of the mayor or city council. At any time, these higher-ranking officers can be demoted back to captain and replaced. They can continue in the lower positions, or they can retire on their pensions, but they can’t remain in the higher offices for years while doing a lousy job. We might consider a similar plan for federal bureaucrats.

For example, when FBI official Peter Stzrok and IRS official Lois Lerner misused their positions for political purposes, rather than lengthy disputes about whether they should be fired, they could immediately have been demoted to the appropriate lower civil service rank – and they probably would have resigned or retired, saving us all time and effort.

The Decrapinator.

To keep a computer running well, we use a disc cleaner to remove unwanted, redundant, outdated files. Otherwise the disc becomes clogged with useless junk, slowing down and sometimes crashing the operating system. In our homes, we throw out unused or broken items. Otherwise, we risk becoming hoarders, buried under a heap of old junk.

Why not do the same in national life? Why do we allow Congress, state legislatures, and city councils to pass hundreds of new laws every year, but repeal only a few? Why do we allow bureaucrats to issue thousands of new regulations every year, but withdraw almost none?

The Federal Register now comprises over 180,000 pages of regulations. The paperback version sells for a reasonable $1804. Do even the most skillful lawyers have any notion of what those regulations contain? Is it possible to go one day without violating some, or even many? Do you really believe that a mountain of regulations is compatible with freedom?

Total Pages Published in the Code of Federal Regulations (1950-2017) graph

Even the largest hard drive does not have infinite capacity. Even the most opulent house does not have unlimited space. Even the most intelligent person does not have boundless memory. At some point – which is not predictable but can be recognized only in retrospect – the hard drive crashes, the house collapses, and the memory fails. But then it is too late.

We may run out of money, clean water, or even spirit. But we will never run out of crap. If smart phones need The Decrapinator, so do smart people. But are we smart enough to use it while there is still time?

Only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe. – Albert Einstein (attributed)

The Decrapinator at work

Contact: dstol@prodigy.net. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.

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