The Relative Comment

soothing waves of relativity

in defense of regulation

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Today’s Star Tribune has an editorial that embarks on an un-enviable position in today’s United States: defending and arguing for more government regulation. The article is not packaged to make friends, but that doesn’t make it’s message any less accurate: “America suffers not from too much regulation, but from too little.”

It’s time for a new accounting of the costs and benefits of regulation.

String of crises has one solution: More Regulation. Mike Meyers, Star Tribune.

Republican dogma betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of capitalism. That’s odd for a party that’s supposed to be the bold cavalier of business. Instead, it’s cavalier with the facts.
Left to their own devices, capitalists are better at making money than at looking out for the other guy. The United States grew rich in the Industrial Revolution, but learned the price of no-holds-barred capitalism.
Somehow, today’s Republican Party either has forgotten the lessons of history or bet that others have.
Bankers once openly contrived with industrialists to corner markets, acquire or bankrupt rivals, and keep employees and customers under their thumbs.
Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican, caught the public mood when he called the robber barons of his day “malefactors of great wealth.”

For markets to work properly, they need clear rules and watchful referees.
But Republicans consistently focus on the costs of regulations rather than the benefits. Here’s a line from the 2008 Republican platform:
“Our approach to regulation — basing it on sound science to achieve goals that are technically feasible — will protect against job-killing intrusions into small businesses.”
Somehow, Republicans rarely see sound science through the same prism as actual scientists. Technically feasible sometimes gets confused with technology that can be bought at zero cost.
To be sure, regulators never should publish 2,000-page rule books when 20 pages, or even 200, would do. Indeed, unnecessarily complex regulation can provide cover for corporate lawyers to challenge or evade rules and laws for decades.
But trusting the businesses to do right by society on their own ignores their prime reason to exist — to make as much money as they can in as short a time as possible.
Markets have a term for a good-hearted capitalist who sacrifices profits for clean air, pure water, protected workers and safe products when rivals are not required, by law, to do the same.
The term is “bankrupt.”

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Written by Christopher ZF

February 13, 2012 at 12:47

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