Showing posts with label Deregulation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Deregulation. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Regulation Rap

Everyone knows the Republicans have no intention of passing any of Obama's jobs proposals. To do so would improve the economy and put people back to work, and that's something the Republicans just can't abide.

But in response, like some third-rate rapper, all the Republicans can do is repeat the same line over and over, even though it doesn't rhyme with anything: "slash regulations." This is a completely disingenuous proposal, a delaying tactic calculated to kick the can down to the road till the next election and accomplish nothing other than to keep the economy in the doldrums and make Obama look bad.

Exactly what regulations do they want to eliminate? FAA regulations for what things people can carry on planes, or spacing restrictions on how closely planes can follow each other landing? USDA regulations on slaughterhouses and dairies that prevent E. coli infections? FDA regulations on food safety and drugs? Consumer Product Safety Commission regulations on the materials that can be used in kids' toys? NHTSA standards for brakes and collision worthiness? EPA regulations on lead, mercury and sulfur in automobile exhaust and power plant emissions, which cause brain damage in children and acid rain that was on the verge of killing all life in northern lakes and forests 30 years ago? SEC regulations on the banks and corporations who just screwed us over in the financial meltdown with their irresponsible lending and investment practices? Regulations that limit the number of people you can cram aboard an airplane, ferry or bus?

Many regulations aren't even within the purview of the federal government. Building codes, zoning ordinances and land use covenants impede small businesses far more often than federal regulations, and those are governed by states, counties and municipalities. The federal government can't eliminate those regulations unless they usurp local control. Which I thought was bad.

Are there some harmful regulations? Sure. I'm all for revising regulations that have become useless or cumbersome. But it will literally take years to review, make new proposals, open them up for public comment and then revise the regulatory system. Any savings and increased employment wouldn't happen for several years, and it's doubtful that the net gain in employment would be significant (jobs would be lost -- regulators who are no longer needed will be on the job market competing with everyone else). But that suits the Republicans: they don't want to see any improvement in the economy for at least a year and a half.

At this point Republicans will argue that market forces will take the place of regulation. The problem is that market forces -- if they work at all -- are slow, retroactive and punitive. In the meantime, you just wind up with a lot of dead, maimed and sickened people who would otherwise be living and healthy if we had a modicum of sensible proactive regulations.

The Republicans have a three-pronged approach that would actually make individual consumers powerless against big companies, which belies their anti-regulatory fervor: 1) eliminate regulations, 2) eliminate the ability of consumers to sue companies in civil court with "tort reform" and class action suits, and 3) eliminate the government's ability to regulate mergers and prevent monopolies. Together, these three Republican tenets completely undermine the ability of market forces to reign companies in.

Without regulations, making bad products is not illegal. If you die in a car accident because the car doesn't have air bags or crumple zones, it's not the car manufacturer's fault. It's your fault for having the accident or buying the wrong car. If the brakes fail it's not the manufacturer's fault, it's yours because were driving too fast, braked too hard, drove through water, or didn't maintain them properly. If lots of people die in similar accidents, you can't band together to sue the companies for making faulty products because of tort reform and the elimination of class action lawsuits. And since there's no limit on how large companies can get, eventually there will only be one or two car companies. You won't be able to buy a car somewhere else. Your choice will be to own a car or not own a car. And since the oil companies and car companies have destroyed our rail system and Republicans work tirelessly every day to defund public transit, that choice comes down to no choice at all.

In particularly egregious cases where the publicity could adversely affect the company, they will be able to buy the silence of victims or their relatives, or if the victims have some spine the companies will be able spend unlimited amounts of money to discredit or otherwise sue their victims into silence.

In the worst case, the company can just declare bankruptcy. All the principals can just walk away with their personal fortunes intact. They would even be able to buy the assets of the bankrupt company for pennies on the dollar, and do exactly the same thing again under a new name.

Market forces only work when there's a market; they do not function when there's a monopoly. The logical outcome of Republican policies would be total domination of the American economy by market-segmented monopolies owned by foreign conglomerates. These interlocking monopolies will include media outlets, which means bad publicity -- the last remaining check against corporate abuses in the Republican Utopia -- can be prevented by another head of the giant multinational corporate hydra.

Our government doesn't make regulations just for the hell of it. Regulations forbid the use of lead in gasoline and paint because it causes brain damage in children and developing fetuses. Regulations limit emissions from power plants because polluted air kills people with asthma, and causes lung disease in otherwise healthy people. Car safety standards -- regulations -- save people's lives by reducing the forces in collisions on passengers.

If Republicans are really pro-life, they can't categorically condemn all regulations, because regulations have saved literally millions of lives.

And Republicans really aren't against all regulation: they want to regulate who you marry, how you can divorce, whether you have an abortion, how you talk to your doctor, who you have sex with, what kind of birth control you can use, what kinds of drugs you take, who can move into this country, who you can hire, and on and on. They claim to want us to take personal responsibility for our own actions, but do everything they can to allow corporations to avoid responsibility for their actions. They want to regulate our personal and social behavior -- our individual liberties -- but want corporations to be free to do anything they want. All they're really doing is carrying out the agendas of their various campaign contributors with no real ideology other than what their "think tanks" can cobble together as a bunch of talking points.

This mantra of "less regulation" is just a smokescreen, a lie carefully concocted to make it seem like Republicans are for personal freedom and responsibility, when all they're really doing is delaying serious action for making Americans' lives better.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

No Shit

In response to this article from the Washington Post, my friend Vincent had this to say.

Score another victory for corporate deregulation. Financial deregulation gave us the economic crisis, and energy deregulation helped give us this fine mess.

No shit, Vincenzo.

Certainly, I was mistaken when I predicted that the election of President Obama would make the Cult irrelevant. All I really needed to do was sit back and let their fucked up way of running things clearly demonstrate how ridiculously wrong they are in their borderline psychotic views on government.
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