Monday, October 20, 2014

Regulation Follow-Up

In my last post, I wrote about how Republicans should focus on regulations to take down spending. After a conversation with a very smart man, (who you should totally donate to and volunteer for if you live in MD State Senate District 42) I’d like to expand and specify the regulations that I had in mind, and which I didn't.

Regulations that should be taken down are regulations that do nothing but add costs or lock people out. Regulations detailing business practices or require licenses for non-dangerous work should be the focus.

These regulations are actively harmful while not providing benefits. Take for example, the business license. Aside from paying money, does it have requirements? Does the license make the holder honest? Reliable? A good businessman? Of course not, the idea is absurd. Does a taxi license make a safe and knowledgeable driver? Or an interior designer license make a good furniture arranger? 

Of course not. The point of the license is to deny them to groups or individuals that are politically unconnected for the benefit of the connected. Sometimes it’s explicit, like requiring hair braiders to spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours studying how to die hair, or requiring tooth whitening services be done by a dentist. Or even more explicit, creating “boards” that are staffed by current business owners deciding whether someone else should be allowed to compete with them. These boards exist in great numbers when it comes to hospitals and, of all things, moving companies. When a newcomer goes before the board asking for a license to increase their competition, guess what the answer is?

Likewise, regulations that dictate business practices are also useless and harmful. Does a regulation that requires an extra sink make for cleaner food handlers? Only if it’s used, and if the handlers are diligent about cleanliness, would the extra sink matter? Regulations that detail specific equipment or practices simply prevent adaptation, innovation and creation. Large companies like McDonald's can afford multiple sinks in the kitchen, but it may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for a small, new businessman looking for a start.

There are reasonable regulations on harming people through poisoned food or defective products that are fair and reasonable. These should be passed into law through elected legislatures, and have a legitimate place. But these regulations are not the reason the Federal Register is literally uncountable and state regulations are close behind, and they are not the reason small businesses are prevented or destroyed by regulations.

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