All Those Darn Government Regulations

At the micro level and in the short term all those government rules and regulations and red tape are a pain in the neck. They get in our way.

We humans are such devotees of instant gratification so that even rational stop signs and red lights along our roadways can become irritating when we are in a hurry.

At the macro level and in the long term, however, most major regulations are absolutely critical to a nation and its people’s long-term welfare. There is no better example of a critical regulation having been dismissed at the nation’s peril than the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, a federal regulation separating investment and commercial banking activities.

Glass-Steagall was pasted in 1933 because of the banking industry’s part in causing the Great depression. But then in the 1990’s Wall Street lobbyists convinced politicians of both major parties that in the modern world it had become an outdated and unnecessary regulation. And as we now know repealing Glass-Steagall opened the floodgates for all sorts of super lucrative instruments of speculation for the nation’s largest banks to jump into, such as exotic and dangerous derivatives that lead to the infamous too big to fail dilemma — the financial and housing collapse of 2008.

There is no doubt that when it comes to either profit or efficiency or the loss of some jobs there is a price to be paid for government regulations. Life is full of negative offsets for basically something good. If you want the EPA to regulate for clean, non-toxic air, then some coalminers are probably going to lose their jobs, causing certain parts of the country to become economically depressed. Weighing the risk reward of regulations is never an easy thing. It usually comes down to a few lose out and many win or many lose out and a few win. Aiming for the former should always be the goal.

So we might want to cry foul if the Republican Party’s sudden full command of the federal government (lead by President Trump) goes on a deregulation rampage.

Jim Ridgway, Jr. military writer — author of the American Civil War classic, “Apprentice Killers: The War of Lincoln and Davis.” Christmas gift, yes!

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store