Monday, April 29, 2013

Wall Street Journal Reviews Cass Sustein’s Book on Regulation – And Laments Regulation

And Then Consider How Lack of Regulation Was a Factor in the West, Texas Fertilizer Explosion

Because the Wall Street Journal is owned by mega Conservative and all around mean person, Rupert Murdoch, its book reviews are often non-objective rants and opinions on the topic at hand.  Such is the case in the Journal’s Review of Cass Sustein’s new book, Simpler:  The Future of Government.  The message from the review, regulation robs everyone of freedom.

In fact, regulation is the enemy of progress, freedom, initiative and everything else that is good.

There is a deeper threat posed by a paternalist state, however "libertarian" we might wish it to be, and it isn't easily accounted for by cost-benefit analysis. Friedrich Hayek highlighted it in "The Road to Serfdom" (1944): "The political ideals of a people and its attitude toward authority are as much the effect as the cause of the political institutions under which it lives. This means . . . that even a strong tradition of political liberty is no safeguard if the danger is precisely that the new institutions and policies will gradually undermine and destroy that spirit."

And regulation takes away basic freedoms.

But the regulatory state as envisioned by Mr. Sunstein is nevertheless deeply opposed to America's traditions of liberty and individual responsibility. Such regulation will chew away like a cancer at those traditions. If Mr. Sunstein's blueprint for regulation is indeed the future of government, we might, as a result, be well-regulated—but we won't be free.

Gosh, without regulation what would we be free to do?  Well we would be free to consume drugs that may harm or kills us; eat food that was unsafe, work in factories that were dangerous, pollute the air, water and earth in an unlimited amount etc. etc. etc.  Oh and we would be free to die in explosions like the one in Texas, where regulatory laxness was a factor.

The very picture of lack of regulation in West, Texas

The uncertainty over who was aware of the chemical at the plant and who was not, both at the site and in Washington, illustrates the patchwork regulatory world the plant operated in and the ways in which it slipped through bureaucratic cracks at the federal, state and local levels.

One week after the blast, investigators were still not sure how much ammonium nitrate was stored there, whether it had been stored properly and which agencies had been informed about it — even though a host of federal, state and local officials were responsible for regulating and monitoring the plant’s operations and products.

Many safety decisions — including moves in recent years to build homes, schools and a nursing home not far from the decades-old plant — were left to local officials who often did not have the expertise to assess the dangers.

Good regulation is essential to modern capitalism and free enterprise.  Good regulation makes everyone more free, not less, because they are free to engage in activities knowing that they will not harm themselves or others.  But the folks at the WSJ don’t understand that, because the freedom of Conservatives to exploit the weak, the old, the sick and the young would not be as great.

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