A Quick Note On Regulations

consumer financial protections 7 minutes

Semantics is the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning. Republicans have spent decades redefining words or phrases to give them a meaning that often bring negative connotations or scenarios to certain words. In short they poison these words or phrases so that they can’t even be used in discussions because they have been made so toxic.

Ronald Reagan’s invention of the phrase “welfare queen” usually comes first to mind when considering this issue. That phrase conjures up some minority woman driving a new Cadillac with a multitude of kids which the poor taxpayer supports while the welfare queen lives high on the hog by gaming the system. Of course it is crap, but it got traction through repetition and being used as a shortcut by the media.

Just a few more to make sure we spell out the gist of what we mean. “Liberal” was once a proud political position. JFK was proudly a liberal. Republicans have made the term liberal so toxic that most who were once liberals now call themselves progressives.

Another example is to make anything the “government” does seem to be extremely bureaucratic, expensive, slow and inefficient. Thus negative comments on anything program that a government enacts is derided as “government” with all the connotations mentioned above. Another word that is often used in the same way is “public.”

Evidence shows that for the most part this is not true. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are three extremely efficient, well thought of and cheap to administer. Our public school systems were the envy of the world until we started privatizing them. Other countries upgraded their systems to emulate ours.

This discussion is to lead into a comment I heard Thom Hartmann mention during his show Monday. Regulations have been one of the words that Republicans have tried to make toxic. They have made great inroads into making it poison, but they haven’t fully succeeded. Perhaps that is because every now and then stories pop up of people dying because some company refused to follow regulations.

Recalls seem to be at least a weekly event in this country. From cars to medications to foods it seems that at least weekly some company is tasked with getting products off customers shelves or out of their houses. Often companies do voluntary recalls when they find records that indicate that some product had defects. Often the records they are keeping are records that are mandated through regulations.

The claim that the marketplace would force companies to keep such records was proven false long ago. That is the reason our government went into the business of mandating records be kept and that good manufacturing practices must be followed.

My paraphrase of what Hartmann said in a simple little statement: “every regulation is ultimately a consumer protection.” This is a much detoxified look at regulations. Thinking on this at a deeper level you can see it is true. Most regulations come in response to some business practices that led to consumer harm either directly or indirectly. Toys were late to being regulated. Looking back at some older toys in the US we found chemistry sets with uranium in them.

Does it cost company money to follow regulations? Sure it does. But in the long run it is much cheaper than fighting lawsuits over deaths and injuries or eventually going out of business. Plus all the businesses in an industry should be following the same regulations, so the costs should be very similar for competitors.

So when the guy who lost the popular vote for president signed an executive order stating that for every new regulation created two must be rescinded, he didn’t have your best interest in mind. Nor did those standing around and applauding. In fact at some point in your life this idiotic executive order may come back and haunt you as a consumer. Perhaps the regulation that is repealed to make way for a new one may be the regulation that checks ingredients in a can of dog food.

Just last week many dogs died when a company accidentally got some euthanasia drugs mixed in its food that got onto store shelves and into consumer homes. Thanks to regulations we can follow the chain of manufacturing back to the supply chain and find out what happened. That is partly to assign blame, but also to stop whatever happened from happening again.

Regulations are protections for consumers, not a penalty on manufacturers. If you want huge cuts in regulations, be careful what you ask for, you may get it and it may cost you more than you could ever expect.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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