Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Capitalism, like fire, is useful, but also extraordinarily dangerous.

Yesterday's post about the importance of business regulation, in which I compared capitalism to fire, meaning that the two have both creative and destructive aspects, brought out a couple of conservatives to hassle me when I cross-posted on facebook.  Missing the point entirely, they went to town on my fire comparison, bending over backwards to find situations making it just fine to let fire do its destructive thing, in order to show that sometimes regulations are bad.

They just went on and on, each scenario becoming increasingly ridiculous.  I kept telling them that, in the end, with firefighters' "controlled burns," or whatever, somebody, somewhere, was making sure fire wasn't destroying everything in its path.  But they refused to let go.

I finally had to address their bullshit more directly:

You're talking as though America is not currently in an era when an enormous percentage of the political class is straight up hostile to all business regulation. This is the context in which I offer my metaphor, a context where it is widespread "good sense" to deregulate as much as possible, and when not possible, to do some regulatory capture, staffing agencies with people friendly to the industries these agencies are supposed to regulate.

I get your point. You want to make sure that I understand some regulations don't do what they're supposed to do and have needless bad effects. But I already agree with that. I've agreed the whole time. I've even said so on this comment thread.

Right now, however, I think pushing the notion that we need regulation, and that a lot of regulation actually helps rather than hinders the economy, is far more urgent than telling everybody what we already know, that some regulation is bad.

I mean, after all, conservatives have spent the last four decades citing examples of regulation-gone-wrong to falsely "prove" that all regulation is bad. We've got a big huge conceptual mess to clean up here as far as how the public understands regulation. 
'Nuff said.