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There Oughta Be a Law
This article is in full compliance with all applicable state, federal, and municipal regulations.


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Bleary-eyed, I crawl out of bed, shuffle into the bathroom, and flip on the lights, but the bulb is out. I remind myself to get to Home Depot and stockpile a few cases of good, old-fashioned incandescent bulbs while I still can. After my morning business, I flush an extra time, since 1.6 gallons just doesn’t seem to do the trick. But at least we’re saving water, huh? Hop in the shower, where the water trickles out at an EPA-limited 2.5 gallons per minute. I think I’ll stay in here for an extra ten minutes or so.

I walk out to get the morning paper and take out the trash. “Honey, make sure to put out the recycling, too.” Right. I hope we sorted this stuff correctly. As I’m contemplating whether you can recycle pizza boxes, my dog fertilizes the lawn, so I go looking for a plastic bag (without holes).

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I load my daughter into my fuel-inefficient SUV, asking myself how many hybrids the manufacturer had to make to offset the hit against Department of Transportation CAFE standards. She’s comfortably seated in her state-mandated booster seat. With no time for a decent breakfast, we hop in the drive-through lane at McDonald’s. I wonder how they’re going to get all that nutrition information required by Obamacare on the drive-through menu. Or how I’m going to be able to read it. Not to worry, though — at least no insurance company can refuse to cover me for my high cholesterol now. Who says there is no such thing as a free breakfast?

On the way to the office, my cell phone rings, but I can’t answer it because I can’t find my hands-free device. I drop by the bank for some cash and ponder whether I’ve exceeded the six withdrawals per month permitted by the Fed’s Regulation D. I spend my day at work trying to save a client facing possible extinction from a federal regulation that would effectively shut his business down. Thank goodness I don’t have to deal with such oppressive regulations in my daily life.

On the way home, I stop at the drugstore to pick up some cold medicine. They ask for my ID and check the log to see the last time I bought any. The feds want to make sure I’m not manufacturing crystal meth. Me, manufacture meth? I have a hard time making pancakes.

When I get home that night, I lunge for the remote as the all-too-familiar Cialis ad is coming on. The kids don’t need to hear about side effects in excess of four hours. (Four hours? Really?) After sending them off to bed in their Consumer Product Safety Commission–compliant pajamas, I look at a stack of bills. Can I call the doctor to dispute the charges on my wife’s bill if she hasn’t signed a HIPAA waiver? Maybe she should just call herself.

As much as I hate to do it, I sit down with TaxCut to go over my return. Tax day is just around the corner, after all. Since my law firm does business overseas, I am entitled to a tax credit for foreign taxes paid. But to take advantage of it, I’ll also have to rerun the alternative-minimum-tax calculations, which means filling out Form 1116 twice. I also need to rerun last year’s alt-min calculation to figure out if my state tax refund is taxable on my federal return this year. Maybe I should have just followed Tim Geithner’s example.

Individual liberty is a diminishing commodity these days. It began with laws protecting one individual from harming another; these days, it has morphed into bans on trans-fats in your doughnuts and salt on your fries. And you don’t have to be Ted Kaczynski to feel just a little overwhelmed.

Exhausted once again, I collapse into bed, finally in the one place where even liberals say I should be left alone. Now what’s this mattress tag say?

Shannen W. Coffin is a lawyer at Steptoe & Johnson LLP in Washington, D.C. No animals were harmed in the writing of this piece.



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