May 24th, 2015

Charles Murray to Fareed Zakaria: “I’m not so worried about the big corporations…but the lives of people are being constantly impeded by stupid, pointless regulations.”

Today, Fareed Zakaria held an exclusive interview with Charles Murray, Political Scientist and author of By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission.  They spoke about what the American people should rebel against according to Murray which included, certain regulations that are “stupid” and “pointless”, as well as his proposal for a legal defense fund. See full story below.

MANDATORY CREDIT for reference and usage: “CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS”


FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: July Fourth will mark 239 years since the Declaration of Independence. And my next guest says it’s time for a new declaration against the government, a declaration of resistance, he calls it.  He wants American citizens to rise up in protest of their government’s ways. Why? It’s not for the reasons you probably think, but I will let him explain.

Charles Murray is the author of such provocative, controversial books as “The Bell Curve” and “Coming Apart.” His new book is called “By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission.”

So what is the great cause that you want people to rise up in rebellion against?

CHARLES MURRAY, POLITICAL SCIENTIST: Ordinary people can’t live their lives as they see fit anymore. They live under a constant presumption that they need permission. So that if it’s somebody trying to run a small business or a family building a deck behind the house or a community group trying to get a new playground for their kids, they constantly have the government coming out and saying, no, you can’t do this, you have to do it that way, we’re going to fine you $5,000 for this.

I’m not so worried about the big corporations and I certainly don’t want to get rid of the regulations that are important and necessary. But the lives of people are being constantly impeded by stupid, pointless regulations. And that’s what I want to do something about.

ZAKARIA: And the number of these kinds of regulations, you point out, has just grown astronomically.

MURRAY: Oh, yes. Well, if you want to talk about the total pages in the Federal Code of Regulations you’re up to 175,000 pages now. And that’s not as telling to me, Fareed, as what happens if you go out and just ask somebody who runs a small business, how does regulation affect your life? And the answer you’re going to get is it makes my life miserable.

ZAKARIA: So since the 1940s, with this regulatory state rising, the United States has become the richest, most dynamic, most technologically advanced country in the history of the world.  And secondly, I look at our lives, and we have cleaner air, safer coal mines, cleaner water.

MURRAY: What’s the big deal then?

ZAKARIA: What — right. What’s the big deal?

MURRAY: Look, point number one, I’m in — I’m in favor of regulations that take smokestacks that are boiling out noxious smoke and regulating the hell out of them, OK? That’s fine with me.  Coal mines safer, that’s fine with me, too.

ZAKARIA:  Is there — is there a way to get — I guess what I’m trying to get at, is there a way to get the good regulations without the bad? Because you point out, for example, that, you know, OK, it makes sense that you should have some rules about stairways so that people don’t fall off.  That there should be some kind of railing.

MURRAY: Yes. There should be a railing there.

ZAKARIA: But there’s a law — there’s a regulation that says if the railings are not 42 inches high, you will be fined as per OSHA Regulation 1910.23(e).


ZAKARIA: How do you — how do you avoid that but still have safe coal mines?

MURRAY: That’s where you come to my proposal, which is to say that you have a way to fight back. And I put it in terms of legal defense funds. And these are not legal defense funds that just defend the innocent. They defend people who are technically guilty of violating a pointless regulation. And again, this is a fund for ordinary people. It’s not for big corporations.

So what happens is you are being harassed by a bureaucrat for silly reasons. The defense fund says to the bureaucrat, we are taking this person’s case. It will not cost them a penny. We will litigate it to the max. We’re just going to make as much work for you as we can. And when you finally find that he was in violation and fine him, we’re going to reimburse the fine. And I want this done not with one or two cases, I want it done with hundreds. So I’m talking about a large fund.

ZAKARIA: But — and to put it in terms that I think an average person can understand, suppose you’re speeding on an open stretch of highway. You’re going eight miles above the limit, you point out — I’m taking this as your example.


ZAKARIA: And you say the cop pulls you over. Almost certainly he’s doing it or she’s doing it because they’re — they need to reach their quota or the county needs a little bit more money and they have been told, go out and write some tickets, because your argument is that actually, there is no harm done in that kind of slight irregularity. You would then fight back?

MURRAY: Well, let me give you — let me extend the analogy. The only time you get picked up if you’re going five miles over the speed limit is if you are on a deserted stretch of highway.  Then they might do that. If you’re on an ordinary interstate, 70 percent of the people are going six miles over the speed limit.

At that point, the state troopers do not pull you over five miles over the speed limit. They only pull over the people that are going crazy fast or driving erratically. They wait until there is an actual harm done. And Fareed, that is my whole goal, not to wipe regulations off the books, but to drag the bureaucrats kicking and screaming into a common-sense enforcement where they have to marshal their resources against cases where real harm has been done and when no real harm has been done, ignore it.

ZAKARIA: Charles Murray, always a pleasure to have you on.

MURRAY: Thank you.