The Costs of Regulation


Pic of the day:  Death and the Miser, by Hieronymous Bosch

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We rarely hear, it has been said, of the combinations of masters, though frequently of those of the workman. But whoever imagines, upon this account, that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject.

Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Book I, chapter viii

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There are plenty of things that are wrong with government.  There are plenty of things that have always been wrong with government and will not change regardless of who is President or what party runs what parts of the government.  Regulation for example, is expensive as hell.  Costs an absolute boatload to make sure that everyone do what they are supposed to do.  According to the Romney campaign it cost something like 1.75 trillion dollars annually.  The Romney campaign says as much in big bold letters on it’s website.

But they paint the picture a bit too gloomily I think.  They are projecting the cost not to the United States government to regulate businesses, but the total cost to businesses to make sure that they comply with those regulations.    The actual cost of regulations to the United States government is closer to 55 billion dollars annually, FAR from the near 2 trillion dollar number being floated by the Romney campaign, among others.

Now that is a tremendous cost to American business, and I have no idea exactly how the businesses that are spending that money are spending it.  Does it go to having people on the payroll to make sure that regulations are adhered to?  If so then those dollars are well spent.  If it is for attorneys so that they can make sure businesses are abiding by the law properly, then I tell you that I have no problem with it. I believe that circumstances similar to the picture I have painted here are the reason the private costs of regulation are so expensive.  It keeps thousands of people working, hundreds of thousands if I am correct.  If the cost of your safety and mine from the predations of big business and job safety are the costs of regulation, and I believe that they are, then that cost is essential to the health and maintenance of American business, both large and small.

And I say pay it, smile and pay it.  If it keeps discover card from dripping you dry with costs unforeseen, if it keeps the dockworker who makes sure you get your goods safely and on time safe, if it makes companies follow rules they would much rather not, then I say pay it.

If there are ways that business can defray those costs, then by all means do so.  Lobby the government, call senators and representatives, speak to the people in power about helping you.  But damn you, don’t complain about spending money that keeps Americans working, safe and free from the predations of the world.

Mitt knows what he’s doing here.  By writing that the private costs of regulation are a bad thing, when they are at once necessary and proper, is a feat of legerdemain fitting of a man who will do or say anything to reach the highest seat of power by any means necessary, regardless of the consequences.

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That’s about it from here, America.  G’night.

 

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