Who Needs More Government Regulations?

Campaign season expands the chorus of voices shouting to anyone who’ll listen that America is over-regulated, that regulations hurt business, that regulations kill jobs. Not that the chorus only sings this song during election years. Corporations spend billions of dollars trying to persuade the California Legislature and the Congress that regulations are the apogee of evil. Corporations spend millions in California on candidates that will sing the same song. They spend millions more on initiatives to relieve the burden on their profits. While the California Legislature has largely succeeded in ignoring this siren song, the Congress and the Executive Branch succumbed to it long ago.  The theory is that in America, if you repeat a lie long enough, folks will come to think it’s true.

Think corporations care about people? Here’s what BP thought about its workers in 2002.

BP memo with image of 3 little pigs

They thought of them as little piggies.

A couple of years later their Texas refinery (a beneficiary of the  cost benefit analysis shown above)  blew up and killed 15 workers and injured 170 more. Now we have the horrific spectacle of the same corporation killing more of its workers and poisoning a substantial and growing portion of the Gulf of Mexico. BP lied to the Minerals Management Service (MMS) of the Interior Department, telling them on its permit application that it could handle a spill 60 times larger than the current catastrophe. But that’s okay, MMS doesn’t seem to care about enforcing the law, they gave away permits like candy ignoring, legally mandated requirements.  They couldn’t even be bothered to conduct required inspections of the now blown apart and sunken BP rig. Rules without enforcement are no rules at all.

Let me ask the reader a couple of questions. How’s your 401K doing these day? Ever worked in a coal mine? Homeowner, what’s you house worth these days? How’s your job security these days? How about your friends’ job security? Do you live near a refinery? Are you enjoying watching the death of the Gulf Coast?  Do you eat food or take any medicines?

Regulations, a puffed-up word meaning rules, laws, are the bones of the body politic. Rules are why we stop at red lights, why we don’t shoot our neighbors willy-nilly, why we have government, why we have civilization. Want to live in a place without rules? Want a perfect libertarian paradise? May I suggest to you Somalia, home of the modern day high seas pirates and a place where no corporation will ever have its profits dented by silly regulations. In short, I argue that we need regulations to keep us healthy and safe. The San Francisco Chronicle printed an excellent argument for rules and enforcement that’s well worth reading.

Why am I troubling you with all this? Because on June 8th we’ve got some choices to make. Candidates and propositions ask for our votes. You, dear reader, need to decide if you want legislators backed by folks who think the rules are holding us back or candidates who understand that rules are the very foundation of civilized society. You need to decide as well if you support changing the rules for the benefit of corporations. In other words, if you like the recent calamities, vote for the anti-regulation folks. If you want a healthy prosperous future for yourself and your kids, pick the folks that will make and enforce the rules. We have a whole list of the latter folks on our website.

Your choice, folks. Your vote matters.

Posted on June 2, 2010


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