The Red Tape and Restrictions behind America’s Red, White, and Blue

Today, Americans celebrate the day we declared ourselves free and independent from British rule: Independence Day. Amongst all the cookouts, pool parties, and fireworks, Mercatus scholars Daniel Griswold and Richard Williams reflect on how the nation evolved since its founding.

“Time to Celebrate Red, White, Blue — Not Red Tape”

The rise of hundreds of bureaucracies and thousands of administrative officials changed the landscape of governance in the United States, according to Richard Williams. As more agencies were created, more rules developed, preventing citizens from being able to comprehend exactly what is illegal and what isn’t.

In his research, Williams found that agencies pass between 3,000 and 4,000 new rules every year. He adds, “The absence of self-governance was precisely what ignited a revolution in the American colonies. It wasn’t the taxation of tea that caused Colonial outrage; it was the fact that the favored British company, the East India Company, got a tax break.”

As Williams writes, “these agencies were originally created with an important purpose — solving problems,” but a decline in evidence-based rulemaking and the rise of regulations that favor some firms “at the expense of consumers, workers and competitors” have upset the checks and balances that preserve fundamental liberties.

“On July Fourth, Immigrants Remind Us All of the Value of Freedom”

In an op-ed for the Seattle Times, Daniel Griswold notes that the founders recognized the importance of immigration in developing a successful nation. The list of the “long train of abuses” published on July 4, 1776, included a charge that the King of England had "endeavored to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; (and) refusing to pass others to encourage their Migration hither."

Griswold discusses the contributions that immigrants and their children have added to the American spirit. In an article for Townhall, he points out that “Compared to native-born Americans, immigrants tend to show an even greater commitment to traditional values of work, enterprise, family, faith, and respect for authority.”