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Beltway Confidential

The untold story of what happens when 'Dirty Jobs' meets 'angry acronyms'

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Beltway Confidential,EPA,Ashe Schow

The untold "Dirty Jobs" story is how federal regulations have almost crushed them out of existence.

Mike Rowe, host of the popular series that aired on the Discovery Channel from 2003 to 2012, said the businesses he featured while cleaning roadkill off the streets, processing fish and doing other tasks most folks would shun faced "huge" bureaucratic burdens.

“The hidden cost of compliance is so hidden — I don’t know how big it is, but the people I talk to over and over, every single industry — from big, heavily regulated industries like mining to all forms of construction — it’s crushing,” Rowe said in a recent interview with the Washington Examiner.

He leaned in and lowered his voice. “I mean, most business owners wouldn’t talk too loudly, too publicly about it, but over a beer, after a 12-hour day — ” he trailed off.

“Pick an acronym. [Environmental Protection Agency], [American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals], Humane Society, you know, [Occupational Safety and Health Administration]. All of them,” Rowe said. “They're all pissed off.

“We have an army of angry acronyms. And they’re all agenda-driven. They see the world through the lens of their own agenda.”

Rowe, dressed comfortably in blue jeans and a wool blazer while sipping a beer, was not afraid to lambast regulations for the burden they put on employers. It was obvious he had wanted to discuss this issue for some time.

“I don’t know how long your article is, but I could tell you stories of farmers I’ve met at FFA conventions who were fined $1,200 because the bottom rung on a ladder was bent,” Rowe said.

“Now nobody steps on the f----ing bottom rung of the ladder.”

No, they certainly don’t. At least real men don’t.

“And farmers have their backs against the wall, and so a guy comes by and fines them. It’s that times a kajillion things,” Rowe added. “So it got to the point where I did — I started pushing back within the context of the show.”

Rowe described how mandatory safety requirements in particular made workers less safe and took up a large amount of time.

“And so, like with safety for instance — a huge topic, a huge topic and a huge industry,” Rowe said. “So I did a special called ‘Safety Third,’ because the whole ‘safety first’ mentality was creating a kind of counterintuitive — it was fostering complacency, at least on my crew.

“And so all of the mandatory things, all of the compulsory meetings, everything we had to do wound up making us less safe. And so that became a thing,” Rowe said.

“That’s a long way of saying, yeah, it was an issue.”

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Author:

Ashe Schow

Commentary Writer
The Washington Examiner