Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Oppressive government regulations

As I have mentioned before, I think, I'm currently forced to commute a good distance to work so I'm OD'ing on National Pubic Radio. Yesterday I learned that our favorite country of holey cheese, global tax evasion, and giant wooden trumpets has a law prohibiting the keeping of just a single guinea pig. It seems they might get lonely, so you must have at least two. Yep, it's perfectly legal to conspire with despots to conceal the billions they have looted from their people, but you can't make a guinea pig lonely.

Believe it or not, I have a point to make here. It turns out that government regulation doesn't actually "kill jobs," at least not in this case. It has created a unique entrepreneurial niche. Consider what happens if one of your guinea pigs dies, but you don't want to make a long-term commitment to guinea pig ownership at this particular time. You have a problem if you get a second guinea pig, because you will be trapped into permanent guinea pig ownership. When the first one dies you'll be stuck with the second one so you'll need to get a third, and so on until your heirs are burdened to perpetuity.

To the rescue comes Priska Kung, who will rent you a guinea pig. When guinea pig one goes to that great Habitrail in the sky, you just send the rental back to Priska. She has no problem because she has dozens of them.

So what happens when government, for example, tells the consolidated flange factory that it can't just dump it's toxic waste into the river? The company buys water treatment equipment, that's what happens, and somebody gets a job making it. And, just as the extra guinea pig creates jobs for guinea pig feed and supply companies, the clean river provides jobs for fishing tackle and kayak manufacturers. And, we end up with fewer lonely guinea pigs and prettier and better smelling rivers. Plus less cancer and stuff like that.

Yes, it makes guinea pig ownership and flanges a bit more expensive, but they really are that expensive in the first place, it's just that now we're making the responsible parties pay for what the things really cost. That's called responsibility and fairness.

Now, maybe you don't care about lonely guinea pigs as much as you do about toxic rivers, but you know what? That's why we have democracy, so we can vote on this stuff. And if you think you're voting against "burdensome government regulations," you're really voting for dirty air and dirty rivers and fewer jobs for people who make pollution control equipment and fishing tackle, but maybe slightly cheaper flanges. So let's have an honest discussion for a change.

And that includes you, Mr. President.


Daniel said...

One point I'd add is that the regulation, e.g. pollution abatement equipment, does increase the cost of the items produced. Potentially less are produced (fewer sold at a marginally higher cost) which may reduce employment. I'm not sure if this is a wash or not.

This could be seen as an additional benefit though. Externalized costs make the purchase price of products cheaper which increases consumption. We (developed world) are over consumers and less consumption of many items is probably a good idea... IMO.

But this seems like a complicated issue. Some regulations probably do provide no benefits. Why keep those regs around? I suspect there are numerous regulations designed to protect special business/corporate interests from competition. Here's an example... a regulation that prevents Medicare from negotiating directly with drug manufacturers. Let's encourage the Republicans to dump that one.

Cervantes said...

Indeed Daniel, some regulations have a net benefit, others a net cost. Deciding which are which, of course, requires that you put a value on each side of the equation and people may disagree about that. Some people don't give a FFOARD about lonely rodents, others couldn't care less about clean rivers.

What's objectionable is making generalities, like "We need to lift the regulatory burden from business to start creating more jobs." As a proposition, that just isn't true. Although there could well be specific regulations that are counterproductive -- no doubt there are many that I would want to see eliminated or modified -- there are others that we should keep, and yet others that we should add. It all depends, it's not a general principle the way Republicans are claiming.

xlpharmacy reviews said...

I have a point to make here. It turns out that government regulation doesn't actually "kill jobs," at least not in this case. said...

I fully match with whatever thing you have presented us.