Awhile back I wrote that regulations were necessary evils, and we should regard them with vast skepticism. Consider these two examples:
Soda taxes help middle-class people lose only about one pound per year, and don’t help those at the lower or upper ends of the income spectrum at all. They do, however, help raise about $2.5 billion for the government to mis-spend. [Crispy on the Outside]
Okay, yes, I admit that total removal of every market restraint would be “good for the economy.” But money isn’t everything. Think of the danger and damage to society. Without government regulation the big shots who run companies like Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco could have cheated investors and embezzled millions. Without restriction on the sale of hazardous substances young people might smoke, drink, and even use drugs. Without the licensing of medical practitioners the way would be clear for chiropractors, osteopaths, and purveyors of aromatherapy. If we didn’t have labor unions, thirty thousand people would still be wage slaves at General Motors, their daily lives filled with mindless drudgery. And if there weren’t various forms of retail collusion in the petroleum industry, filling stations could charge as little as they liked. I’d have to drive all over town to find the best price. That would waste gas. [P.J. O’Rourke]
We have to stop thinking about government as the machine that can give us exactly the world we want. We need to focus on the world it gives us. Results matter.