It’s kind of amazing that a company can create enormous amounts of value by avoiding regulations – and they, not the regulators, are seen as the villain.

Create a ton of value for who?

Alright, @argumate, I’ve found who we’re going to bill for the PFOA in the water supply.

ppft, real innovators don’t evade regulations, they capture the regulatory body and dictate the regulations.

…yes that is in fact my thesis statement.

I’m making all my money working on software whose only real purpose is to comply with regulation, such that big banks don’t have to worry about small competitors who’ll be priced out of the market since they can’t afford to overcome the regulatory burden.

That’s all I do in my day job.

I wasn’t nearly this much of a free-market advocate before I got a job in finance and realized how much of the regulation served only one single purpose: Create irrelevant reporting requirements that are easy to deal with if you’re a huge company and impossible to comply with if you’re a small upstart on a shoestring budget.

I feel the need to point out that you’re being far too indiscriminate. Giant chemistry installations, steel factories, et cetera are horribly unsafe without regulations holding them in check. And even with regulations in place they still manage to get people killed because apparently for some people the normal reaction to a safety system is to find a way to bypass it.

I have a point to make here that’s hard to write because it’s more intuition than formalized theory.

The thesis statement would be something like “You can’t force companies to care about people,” combined with “You still haven’t solved the calculation problem.”

You can put incentives in place that will make a company take, or avoid taking, certain actions. But since you don’t know what makes sense for the company to do, you have to guess. You have to guess a lot.

Regulation is almost always of the type “you must do X” or “You must avoid doing Y” with a side order of (this is the worst kind of safety regulation) “If you do Z, you aren’t liable if things go wrong.”

And then the company does X, avoids Y and requires Z from their workers, and if things go wrong they’re not fined because they we In Compliance.

A much better approach would be “You can do whatever the fuck you want, but if somebody is hurt we’re taking it out of your hide. Yes even if it ‘Wasn’t your fault’ or some nonsense like that. If you don’t want to pay up, figure out yourself how it makes sense for YOUR company to avoid problems.”

Just completely sidestep the calculation problem (I’m aware that’s not the exact right term for this issue but it’s close enough.)

Companies don’t like this type of laws because you can’t protect yourself by being “in compliance” but that’s why I like them. Compliance is a toxic concept that erodes responsibility and provides an illusion of competence.

Well, but what if it genuinely wasn’t their fault? Do we… o hey, that could actually work.

If you allow them to take an insurance against “acts of god”, the insurance company has an incentive to prove that they were in fact at fault, or at least to thoroughly examine the claim that they weren’t. That way the question of “could we reasonably expect you to consider this thing sensitive in case of earthquake (or other hazard.)” Suddenly doesn’t get an automatic “well there’s no regulation saying so” and instead actually ends up being “well you could have known from the hazard maps that this area gets earthquakes of X magnitude, so you could at least have taken countermeasures for that.”

A possible failure mode would be rich companies somehow getting control over their own insurances, for example because someone owns both an insurance company and the company insured by it, or having a friend own said insurance company.

Well, but what if it genuinely wasn’t their fault? Do we… o hey, that could actually work.

Yup 😀

The insurance company failure mode also isn’t a worry because we’re coming for the money anyway. I don’t care if your insurance company says it’s not your fault because I don’t care whose fault it was, you employed the laborer ergo you had the duty of care and we’re taking the money. You can argue with the insurance company on your own time over whether you should get a payout or not.

This obviously isn’t any kind of a perfect solution, but it has the elegance that it puts all the problem solving responsibility in the hands of the people who own the problem, instead of in a government agency somewhere who has to guess what the correct solution should be.

Well, but what if it genuinely wasn’t their fault? Do we… o hey, that could actually work.

One of the reasons I don’t care about this is: I am not God. It is logically impossible for me to know, with 100% certainty, that something was or was not your fault. All I can do is weigh the evidence, use whatever burden of evidence we’ve decided to use in this type of case, and make a verdict.

Or I can say “fuck it” and skip all that.

Obviously this is a horrible imposition on people, but if they know ahead of time that this is how I’ll be doing things, and if I remove all compliance standards so they’re free to arrange things as they want, at least they’ll be in a position to try to avoid ever getting this outcome to start with.

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