|Living with Government Regulations|
By Gary Murphy
I got up this morning, went to the bathroom, took a shower and brushed my teeth. The water supply is managed by our city government, as is the sewer system. The police and fire department – all government employees – were on duty while I slept, helping to ensure my safety.
I did a little work on the computer and got ready for my 8:00am conference call. I dropped the land line a few months ago and use a mobile phone exclusively. The mobile phone industry wouldn’t be possible if there wasn’t an FCC to allocate the spectrum to the various mobile carriers in the area.
I did a few more hours work and jumped in the car to drive to my customer’s location for a meeting. The car design is heavily influenced by safety regulations. I am glad the seat belt was there 20 years ago when I totaled my Honda Prelude in a highway-speed accident. The impact caused the seatbelt to break my rib. It was before air bags, but were it not for the seatbelt, I am sure I would have had significant injuries.
I live close to the state line and my customer is in the neighboring state, so I used the Interstate Highway system to get there more quickly than the side streets.
I stopped by the grocery store on the way home to get some groceries for dinner. There were some mom’s there, who had just picked up the kids after their day at public school. I am glad the kids are in school rather than working in the local factories. I picked up some USDA-grade A beef and vegetables and got a refill on some medication at the grocery store. I appreciate that there a Food and Drug Administration that helps ensure a safe food supply and ensures that the large pharmaceutical companies can’t put anything on the market and make whatever claim they want. I remember reading Upton Sinclair’s book, “The Jungle” in high school. It wasn’t always that way in America. That 1906 book exposed the realities of an unregulated meat-packing industry. If you haven’t read it, you should.
I got back to the home office a little before the markets closed and had time to place a trade. There is some amount of confidence – less than there used to be – that the information I used to make the trade is accurate, given the regulations enforced by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Insider trading and pump-and-dump schemes were commonplace before the SEC was founded in 1934.
So in a single day, governmental institutions are there to ensure a healthier populace and a more balanced playing field. I’ve been the beneficiary of the local government’s services and infrastructure, including our educational system, the FCC, the Interstate Highway System, automotive safety regulations, the USDA, the FDA, the SEC and – because I am a breather – the EPA. All in a typical day. That’s why I don’t mind paying taxes. Of course, all of these government institutions could be more effective and more efficient, but so could private companies like AT&T, GE and Blue Cross/Blue Shield and every other large organization on the planet.
There used to be an America without these safeguards and social infrastructure. There was a time when drug companies could make outrageous claims and the food supply was unsafe and the markets were rigged and children were working in factories instead of going to school. The Republicans – especially the Tea Party wing – want to take us back to the days of those “freedoms” and the lack of government regulation.
Do we really want American to look the way we did in 1911? I certainly don’t.