What Do a Sports Car, a Space Station, and a Lollipop Have in Common?

Mar 2, 2012

It's trivia time. Here are three things that were introduced in 1973:

  • The Pontiac Grand Am began production.
  • Skylab, the United States' first space station, was launched.
  • Kojak (and his lollipop) debuted on CBS.

It’s also the year that the EPA issued the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure rule, notes BloombergBusinessweek's Elizabeth Dwoskin in a reaction piece to the recent Economist's series on "Over-regulated America.” [I've written about the Economist's series a few times here, here, and here.]

The rule classified milk as an oil and required farmers to prepare milk spill prevention plans. Sadly, this ill-conceived regulation outlasted all the notable historic achievements listed above, evidence bad Washington rules have a way of never going away. 

Though never enforced, the rule hung over the head of farmers for decades, creating great uncertainty. When the EPA considered enforcing the rule in 2008, worried farmers lobbied regulators and members of Congress for relief. Washington finally came to its senses and modified the rule last year so it didn't apply to farmers' milk tanks. Thirty-eight years is a long time to cry over spilled milk.

The "spilled milk" rule is a reminder that regulators and Congress should regularly review rules to see if they're working, are still needed, and are the most-effective way to solve the problem.

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