There ought to be the equivalent of a Hippocratic oath for government officials and bureaucrats considering the imposition of new laws and regulations designed to make us safer. Clause one should say: “First do no harm.”

Imagine all the pain and death — not to mention money — that could be saved with such a philosophy. Think about it.

The latest example is the Environmental Protection Agency’s new air pollution requirements set to take effect in December. Among the many mandates of the new regulations is one requiring pharmaceutical and medical companies using ethylene oxide as a sterilizer to be equipped with thermal oxidizers to control pollution emissions.

Sounds fine, right? I mean, who wants to be breathing ethylene oxide? Not me, that’s for sure.

But sometimes, as all good doctors and patients know, the cure is worse than the disease. Such was the case with Dr. Carol Browner’s latest prescription for clean air.

You see, a few companies came into compliance with the new standards before the deadline. And guess what? Their factories blew up.

Six weeks ago, the Elkhart, Indiana, Accra Pac aerosol packaging plant, equipped with the new EPA-prescribed pollution-control devices, exploded and burned, killing a 33-year-old worker and injuring 70 others. Ironically, thick clouds of toxic fumes forced the evacuation of homes and stores within a mile. Bet those folks are thankful for the new clean-air regs, huh?

A similar explosion occurred June 13 at the Sterilization Services of Virginia plant. Fortunately, only one worker was injured in that blast. In just the last two months, other blasts occurred in Wisconsin and Massachusetts. So, you might say, the EPA has been more effective in blowing up buildings than the Islamic terrorists in Hamas.

Now, the EPA is not yet admitting culpability, of course. It usually takes government at least 50 years or so to do that. But it is taking the unusual step of delaying enforcement of its new air-pollution regulations and warning companies against using the very emission-control devices it had previously been requiring.

“We don’t want, in any way, to take a chance with the workers,” said Richard D. Wilson, the EPA’s deputy assistant administrator for air and radiation. Well, I’d say it’s a little late for that. And, of course, there’s no word on whether the U.S. government plans to pay for modifications at other plants that have already complied with the EPA’s rules or whether Browner and company would own up to their responsibility in the death and injuries their actions have caused.

It’s the same old story. We’ve seen it over and over again. First the federal government forces auto manufacturers to produce smaller, more energy-efficient cars. The result, of course, was mass death on the highways. Then airbags were mandated to save us from the carnage. Now, of course, the government is warning us that our kids aren’t safe in the front seat if your car has them.

Maybe we ought to take this new Hippocratic oath even further and require government bureaucrats to live with their own prescriptions. If the EPA wants to mandate the use of ethylene oxidizers, then Carol Browner should have one in her house. Maybe Bill Clinton, too. If they want to mandate that all gasoline sold include the carcinogenic additive MTBE, then perhaps they should lead by example and hoist a few MTBE cocktails on national TV for us. If smaller cars are good for the goose, we shouldn’t see any government ganders riding around in anything but airbag-equipped Geos.

Why should the American people continue to serve as guinea pigs in their diabolical pseudo-scientific experiments?

When are Americans going to realize what people in countries the world over have already learned? Namely, that powerful centralized governments are much more dangerous for children and other living things than the thousand-and-one phony crises they invent for the purposes of creating legalized protection rackets.

The Founding Fathers understood the threat more than 200 years ago and placed strict limitations on the power and authority of the federal government. They didn’t like the idea of people in London placing mandates on them — all in the name of protection, of course. The last thing they wanted to do was create another government monstrosity in Washington.

But here we are, folks. Time for a government Hippocratic oath? Maybe. But, in the case of government, it would be better named the Hypocritic oath.

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