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Monday, February 07, 2011

For The Common Benefit

Slate ponders Issa's call for suggestions from regulation-phobic business:

Should we care when business complains about burdensome regulation?

Not a lot. By definition, a regulation is a government requirement that business uphold responsibilities to the public at large that, left to its own devices, business would rather avoid. If business leaders were naturally inclined to sacrifice their companies' narrow interests whenever these conflicted with those of the general population, regulation would be unnecessary (and business leaders would not be recognizably human).

Indeed, that was central to Adam Smith's point:

As [business' thoughts] are commonly exercised rather about the interest of their own particular branch of business than about that of the society, their judgment, even when given with the greatest candour (which it has not been upon every occasion), is much more to be depended upon with regard to the former of those two objects, than with regard to the latter...The interest of [businesses] in any particular branch of trade or manufactures, is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public...

The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.

Being "business-friendly" is inherently anti-democratic.  Please make a note, Mr Obama...


February 7, 2011 | Permalink


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so no more Atrios? We miss you. A lot.

Posted by: Little Boots | Feb 7, 2011 9:58:06 PM

not entirely insufferable, I like that

Posted by: Little Boots | Feb 7, 2011 10:07:21 PM

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