Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thoughts on economic regulations, and why they help society

Reasonable people within society can see problems associated with things being left unregulated. Most people don't like to admit it, but they do support regulation of some kind on most everything in life. An unregulated sport can result in massive amounts of injuries, or in illegal drug use to enhance performance on the field. Unregulated speech rights can allow a person to divulge state secrets to foreign enemies without reprimand. Unregulated rights to own any weapon desirable may lead some Americans someday to demand private nuclear arsenal. The examples could go on and on.

So why do some minds in our culture insist upon creating a completely unregulated marketplace? It's silly to believe that, in this singular aspect of life, things would actually be BETTER if left untouched, especially given the historical context of what types of societies unregulated markets create.

It was under less restrictive governments that we saw child labor, inhumane working conditions, unsanitary handling of food, and an extremely long work week without just compensation. Unregulated practices in the insurance industry brought about denial of coverage based on preexisting medial conditions (which sometimes resulted in the deaths of those who thought they were doing the decent thing by purchasing insurance). And despite huge losses, Wall Street investors and big bank CEOs saw huge bonuses the result of taxpayer bailouts, all because the government believed that placing any stipulation on how they could spend them would stifle economic recovery.

This isn't to say that ALL regulatory practices are good. Where regulations truly do inhibit economic prosperity, where "red tape" truly does affect the ordinary person's ability to prosper in a negative way, a remedy should be sought to correct the situation in question.

But the vilification of any regulation whatsoever, the belief that no reasonable steps should be taken to prevent fraud, abuse, or exploitation in the marketplace, is ridiculous. The only thing more insane than the belief that a regulation-free society is best for America is the supposed solution offered by those who believe such a thing: Free-marketers claim that any dastardly actions taken by corporate elitists can be countered by other free-market principles, such as not buying the product/service if you believe it's reprehensible to do so. But that wouldn't be the case, for example, if it were a product like health insurance, a situation where people NEED the product, could get charged a large amount for it, and receive very little in actual benefits compared to the dollar amount they spent purchasing the "product."

In other words, in a completely unregulated marketplace, you're being held at gunpoint. With some regulations in place, there's less incentive for corporate elitists to play the bandit. Regulations are put on the books in order to protect the consumer from corporatists that want nothing more than a profit. The free-market is allowed to stand in place for the most part, with unjust actions by uncaring corporate interests being punished by societal referees (aka the state).

Regulations are helpful to the American public. It's time to stop the nonsense, stop the tirade against the supposed belief that all regulatory practices are bad for the economy. It's a belief that isn't grounded on any factual evidence.

No comments:

Post a Comment