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The Time Cost of Regulation

Monday April 10th, 2017   •   Posted by Craig Eyermann at 6:19am PDT   •  

The Mercatus Center’s RegData project has created a database of federal regulations and used it in some pretty interesting ways to describe their cost to both American businesses and regular Americans.

One of those ways involved estimating how much time it would take to read through the entire Code of Federal Regulations at the average reading speed of 300 words per minute.

The result? Over 5,727 hours! The infographic they put together to share that figure also shows how that compares to several popular works of literature.

That’s a lot of time! Now if you’d like to estimate the cost, say if you either own or work for a business that’s affected by federal regulations, finding out how those regulations will affect you and the things you do will require hiring a lawyer to read through the regulations. Who will likely be paid anywhere from $140 to $495 per hour (based on average 2012 rates) depending on their experience to read how those federal regulations might impact you at your work.

Assuming that reading the federal regulations that apply to your business only require the same 17 hour time commitment as reading The Hunger Games trilogy, it would cost anywhere from $2,380 to $8,415 just to discover how they might affect your business. And if there are any questions about how to interpret the regulations, then the legal bill would only go up from there.

Next, multiply those figures above by the number of businesses like yours that may also be exposed to the same regulations, and you can get a sense of the drain they can have on the industry in which you work.

And that’s just to read the federal regulations that might apply to you at your job! Complying with those same regulations carries a whole additional set of costs above and beyond what simply reading the regulations cost.

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April 2017