Chris’s Corner: Swarms of Officers

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Chris Voccio is a Niagara Falls City Council member and can be reached at


BY: Chris Voccio

Niagara Falls City Councilman

This column, in light of the Independence Day holiday, reflects on a clause from the Declaration of Independence, and agenda Item 15 from the Niagara Falls City Council meeting of June 6th.

The Declaration of Independence is a wonderful document. Beautifully written, easy to read and able to stir your emotions, even 242 years later. It is, among other things, a list of grievances against King George III and his minions.

If you read it today, and think about the massive expansion of our federal government beyond its Constitutional bounds, it’s somewhat ironic that what our Founding Fathers complained about more than two centuries ago has mushroomed far beyond what they ever envisioned.

One of the grievances against the king, listed in the middle of the great Declaration, reads “He has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harrass (sic) our People, and eat out their Substance.”

I think of that line often, as our federal government has so many agencies, created, I’m sure, with the best of intentions. We have an alphabet-soup of federal agencies that often “harass our people and eat out their substance.” Millions of “officers” from the federal government, let along New York State government, make our lives more complicated, and expensive.

A sampling of these agencies includes the FCC, EPA, FDA, HHS, HUD, NEA, NEH, GSA, DOT, NPS, FTC, et al. Lest you think the entire array of alphabet-soup agencies have three letters, consider the agency that made the agenda of the June 6th Niagara Falls City Council meeting, OSHA, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. (There are other four-letter federal agencies, such as USDA and many more.)

The federal government, and every other government body, taxes its people to fund these agencies and an abundance of others. Some of these agencies may occasionally serve worthwhile purposes, some of them may have outlasted their usefulness, if they ever had usefulness to begin with. OSHA, with the noblest of goals, is dreaded by many who operate manufacturing facilities, and I speak from experience.

I believe most people truly familiar with how government operates could agree that society has become over-regulated. We may disagree on the extent of the overregulation, but that great line from the Declaration of Independence rings true for most of us over the course of our lives.

And that’s why, despite the many unpleasantries that our our President tweets, his efforts to deregulate, along with his tax cuts, has some of us excited about job creation,  increasing prosperity and greater confidence in a brighter future.

By reducing the strangulation caused by overregulation, we’re freeing up the marketplace and liberating entrepreneurs (job-creators) to create jobs, wealth and prosperity. The massive improvement in business activity, job creation, stock market returns and other economic metrics is no accident.

But back to Niagara Falls. The June 6th City Council meeting, agenda item number 15 specifically, contained a resolution calling for increased OSHA regulations, and increased OSHA officers (think “…sent hither Swarms of Officers”), along with some other lines indicating that unions in New York State don’t have enough political or legislative influence. We’ll leave that particular topic for another day.

When my fellow Council members and I got to item 15 on the agenda, I had to ask my dear colleagues about each line of the resolution, to be sure I understood their thoughts on the topics discussed. (All four of my colleagues sponsored the resolution.) I expressed my concerns about the resolution, and they in varying degrees explained their support for the resolution.

In the end, it was a 4-to-1 vote in favor of the measure, essentially criticizing the President (I agree there are many things to criticize but this wasn’t one of them) and calling for an expanded federal bureaucracy. You win some, you lose some.

So enjoy your Fourth of July, and please reread the Declaration of Independence. If you have kids, spend a few minutes reading it to them and explaining the import of those words. And then think about how governments, at all levels, impact your life with “Swarms of Officers.”

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