Rabbit out of a Hat

July 25, 2013

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary—

Have you ever been to a magic show and the magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat? All the kids cheer. What fun!

I read in the paper recently where the U.S. Department of Agriculture regulates bunny magicians. I never knew that, and I ran the USDA. Entertainers are required to get (and pay for) a license from the Ag Department. Marty Hahne (a magician) got a letter which read: “Dear member of our regulated community” etc. Maybe you wonder, what is this all about? Well, some 40 years ago, a well-intended law was passed to regulate circuses and zoos. However, over the years, our nanny state government wrote more rules to go after all kinds of entertainers, even individuals, if their show involves animals – especially rabbits.

Mr. Marty Hahne was informed that he had to write a detailed disaster plan – for the rabbit – in case of fire, flood, tornado, ice storm, power failure…whatever. His harassment all started in 2005. Marty was doing a show in Monett, MO. After the show, a lady came forward and asked, “Where is your license?” Marty said, “License for what?” She said, “For your rabbit.” It so happened the lady was a USDA inspector.

Marty had to get an official USDA license – cost: $40 each year. If he is going to pull rabbits out of a hat, he must be licensed and have a disaster plan. His reaction, and I quote, “Our country is broke and yet they have time to harass somebody about a rabbit.”

This rabbit regulation is not a lot difference from other government regulations. The Congress passes a law leaving room for the regulators to add details. Then, a few years later, the regulators may expand the reach of the law. This happens all of the time. Presidents often decide they want to require something, and they direct that regulations be expanded to do what they want. Example: We have seen the EPA try to expand the Clean Water Act to force more control over farms and businesses. It is not surprising. Government departments feel that they need to justify their existence. They are always looking for a way to expand their role.

That’s why we need to cut their budgets. Then, they won’t have the money or staff to harass us as much.

Until next week, I am John Block in Washington, D.C.