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.
How do you think think that companies (or, to be precise, decision makers employed by and/or owning companies) decide what action to take? What action it makes sense for them to take?
They’re guessing, too!
That’s the problem with invoking the calculation problem as a general purpose anti-regulation argument*. Regulators don’t have perfect information, but private actors don’t either.
There are arguments for why private actors should, on average, be somewhat better able to make decisions than regulators. But that’s on average, setting our prior when there’s not further information, not an immutable law. Where there is actual evidence about the specific domain in question (and there always is) you have to update based on that evidence. The evidence is not always in favor of regulation, of course. But to make that decision you have to actually look at the evidence, not make a decision based purely on the anti-regulation prior.
*As opposed to the original context of an argument against a purely planned economy with no price signals at all.
This is of course correct – no industrial accident was ever done on purpose (barring insurance fraud etc./) but by people who misjudged how wrong things were likely to go.
But there’s a very large step between “I know a practice that isn’t common knowledge that most oil refineries could benefit from implementing” and “so therefore I will make it illegal not to.”
You can just tell them.