Carpe Diem

Federal regulations reduce economic growth and make us all poorer. Exhibit A: The sad case of Marty the Magician

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Image Credit: Shutterstock

The Washington Post reports how Missouri children’s magician, Marty Hahne, is being harassed by bureaucrats at the Agriculture Department, who are requiring him to not only have a federal “rabbit license” for Casey, the star of his magic show, but have now demanded that he must also have a “rabbit disaster plan.” I’m not making that up.

Yikes. It’s another example of a situation that would almost be funny if it wasn’t so sad; here are some details:

Marty Hahne, 54, does magic shows for kids in southern Missouri. For his big finale, he pulls a rabbit out of a hat. Or out of a picnic basket. Or out of a tiny library, if he’s doing his routine about reading being magical. To do that, Hahne has an official U.S. government license. Not for the magic. For the rabbit.

The Agriculture Department requires it, citing a decades-old law that was intended to regulate zoos and circuses. Today, the USDA also uses it to regulate much smaller “animal exhibitors,” even the humble one-bunny magician.

Hahne has an official USDA license, No. 43-C-0269, for Casey — a three-pound Netherland dwarf rabbit with a look of near-fatal boredom. The rules require Hahne to pay $40 a year, take Casey to the vet and submit to surprise inspections of his home.

Also, if Hahne plans to take the rabbit out of town for an extended period, he must submit an itinerary to the USDA. The 1966 law that started all of this was four pages long. Now, the USDA has 14 pages of regulations just for rabbits.

But then the bureaucratic overreach got even worse when Magician Marty got a letter from the government:

The government had a new rule. To keep his rabbit license, Hahne needed to write a rabbit disaster plan. “Fire. Flood. Tornado. Air conditioning going out. Ice storm. Power failures,” Hahne said, listing a few of the calamities for which he needed a plan to save the rabbit. “Our country’s broke,” Hahne said. “And yet they have money and time to harass somebody about a rabbit.”

Luckily, Marty got some unexpected help from Kim Morgan, who has written disaster plans before, and she volunteered to help write the rabbit’s disaster plan for free after hearing about Marty’s case. (But think of all of the other magicians across the country who won’t be so lucky to find free help like Marty did to write detailed disaster plans for their rabbits.)

So far, the plan she has written is 28 pages. “That’s pretty short,” given what the USDA asked for, Morgan said.

Fortunately, Marty’s ordeal might be resolved, but only because his regulatory nightmare generated some media attention.

Late Tuesday, after a Washington Post article on Hahne was posted online, the Agriculture Department announced that the disaster-plan rule [for rabbits] would be reexamined.

MP: This is just one small example, among thousands or millions, of how federal regulations suffocate private businesses, reduce economic growth by as much as 2% per year, and make us all as much as 72% poorer, according to the findings of one recent study on the cost of federal regulations.

HT: Morgan Frank

6 thoughts on “Federal regulations reduce economic growth and make us all poorer. Exhibit A: The sad case of Marty the Magician

  1. Marty the Magician becomes the dancing puppet clown for the personal entertainment of USDA folks — until those folks retire and collect their fat federal pensions.

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