Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Deregulate What?

I've been watching the Republican debates, and two universal beliefs among the candidates are that high taxes and excessive regulation are strangling the economy. I'm sure that there are many taxes and regulations that I would personally agree are damaging or unnecessary, but the message from the candidates seems to be a rejection of any tax or regulation. I don't agree, and I'm sure that if pressed, neither would the candidates.

It seems to me that our economy couldn't function without the framework of contract law and enforcement imposed by government. And when I hear that government should get out of the way of business so they can create jobs, I'm skeptical. A quick review of recent headlines or our own history provides too many examples of unrestrained businesses behaving badly, including out of control air and water pollution, adulterated foods, sweat shops, and unsafe buildings.

It seems to me that the mantra of no more government regulation should be replaced with a discussion of specific regulations, starting with those that appear to be causing the most problems. I can't say that I have a well thought out opinion, but my first thought is agricultural subsidies. 

What would be at the top of your list?


  1. Your position is well-stated if not thoroughly thought-out. What would flying be like without rules about airline safety? Should government not require that the safety of roads and highways be enforced? What would the environment be like if manufacturers were allowed to use air and water as free dumps for their wastes? Too much opinion is generated by self-interest and short sightedness.

    1. Maybe I'm misunderstanding your comment, but I think that we agree on this. Rules and regulations are required for society to function and to protect the public from bad actors such as your example of pollution.

      The post was intended to be a question to those who claim deregulation as a universal solution for specific examples.