Regulating Resolutions

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Making—and breaking—New Year’s resolutions is a simple matter. That may soon change.

Congress has established a new agency, the US Oath Authority, to impose quality standards and promote responsible beginning-of-the-year life improvement vows. Once the rules are established, the agency will investigate alleged violations, enforce federal oversight and set penalties for failure to comply with proper procedures.

“Americans should keep their promises,” says Letseeu Dueit, the Authority’s spokesperson. “People need to be made aware of the consequences of reckless resolution-making.”

To help consumers comply with the proposed laws, most popular over-the-counter resolutions will feature labels detailing complications and side effects. Also under consideration is a rule that has the $22.9 trillion resolution industry worried—a requirement forcing individuals to limit annual resolutions to two, each with a chance of failure rate of 15% or less. (Other promises made between individuals would not be affected.)

In addition, Ms. Dueit says the Authority is contemplating switching the official resolution date to September first. Studies have shown that nine of ten resolutions made on the current date of January 1 are abandoned within weeks.

Supporters of the proposals say reform is long overdue, and will help counter widespread pessimism about the sustainability of New Year’s resolutions.

Still, there’s some concern that asking Americans to stop lying to themselves could lead to unrealistic expectations of truthfulness on the part of others. The Oath Authority admits mass honesty is unlikely to occur in the near future, no matter how many laws are passed by Congress.

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