Gov. Regulation Fails to Regulate Bad Behavior


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Your rulers are rebels, friends with thieves. They all love bribes and run after gifts. They never defend orphans. They don’t notice the widows’ pleas. Isaiah 1:23 (GW)

South façade of the White House, the executive...

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All the talk coming out of Washington DC lately is about regulation. The refrain is to regulate Wall Street to avoid future melt downs of the market. Well this week we find out that the regulators who were supposed to be watching over the financial markets were too busy watching PORN to be paying attention to their regulatory responsibilities. They were looking at peep shows rather than looking over financial reports. Granted financial statements can be rather dull but according to one report some of these SEC officials were getting paid quite handsomely to do this job. And you know what I did not hear one peep out of OBAMA or his clan to cap these top officials salaries. I wonder if they still have their jobs?

Seventeen of the employees were “at a senior level,” earning salaries of up to $222,418.

What did the White House propose instead? You guessed it more regulation and more responsibility for the SEC. I wonder who they are going to hire to see that the work gets done? Who is going to be watching the regulators? The truth of the matter is had Goldman Sachs been allowed to fail we would not even be having this discussion. We the people said “no to bailouts”, but the government decided to bail them out anyway, and from the sounds of the new regulatory bill they plan to do so into the far distant future.

A hired hand isn’t a shepherd and doesn’t own the sheep. When he sees a wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and quickly runs away. So the wolf drags the sheep away and scatters the flock. The hired hand is concerned about what he’s going to get paid and not about the sheep. John 10:12-13 (GW)

The sound of the word REGULATION gives a sense of safety. It makes people think there are people paid to keep an eye on certain industries and practices to make sure they operate within the law. But it turns out that those who are paid to keep watch are watching something else. These are hired hands, employees paid to be there, they have no vested interest in the people nor the families they are supposed to be looking out for. They are merely getting paid to do a job and when something bad happens they are quick to push the blame elsewhere. They have no concern over the well being of someone living hundreds or perhaps thousands of miles away. The halls of the government are cold and hollow.

Take for example the recent WV mining accident to see how well Government Regulation worked out.

On April 5, 2010, the community of Montcoal, West Virginia was devastated when an explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine took the lives of 29 men. Not only does the tragedy of Upper Big Branch demonstrate the inadequacy of regulations alone to protect vulnerable workers and their families, it highlights the vital importance of our nation’s civil justice system as a means of compensating victims and punishing those whose reckless conduct harms others.

According to the New York Times, “the mine had been cited for hundreds of violations over the last year, including many serious ones.”

Why then, did the mine continue to operate?

In order to avoid steep fines and delay the need for compliance, the Massey Energy Company fostered bureaucratic gridlock by contesting most of the Upper Big Branch mine’s safety violations. While regulatory officials at the Mine Safety and Health Administration

(MSHA) waded through stacks of appeal documents, hamstrung by weaknesses in the 1977 Mine Safety Act, the mine continued to operate unimpeded.

The very nature of bureaucracy is to generate paperwork. Remember a government large enough to regulate even the very air we breath is too large to operate efficiently and timely in any matter. The best you can hope for from any government agency is they will get around to it eventually. Eventually was too late for 29 miners in West Virginia.

What’s more, the mining industry (as with many other regulated industries) has long had a revolving door between the regulators and the regulated. The ranks of the regulators are often filled with folks who come out of the mining industry. Likewise, the industry provides opportunities for advancement for regulators who decide to leave government service. This calls into question the zeal with which some regulators carry out their duties. Does a regulator really want to get tough on the company that might provide him with his next job?

In other words we have the fox watching the hen house, and to make matters worse, the companies hire back these “foxes” so they have an insider on the payroll. This is actually a good idea if you want to scam the system, which is exactly what happens where there is too much government regulation. Companies find ways around the regulations which then renders the regulations mute.

Of course, regulatory regimes do nothing to compensate the victims or their families for the damages they suffer in such catastrophes. The fines that errant corporations pay for violating government regulations go to government, not the victims of those violations.

This perhaps is the biggest reason the government loves regulation, they are the ones benefiting by enforcement of the regulations. But as you can see the regulations do not hinder the operations of those who are being regulated, regulation therefore becomes nothing more than another tax. It is a “pay to play” program set up by the government, with the pretense of actually being watchdogs. In reality all they are doing is designing rules by which the companies can operate legally, thereby putting a stamp of legitimacy upon an otherwise illegitimate operation. And to justify their existence they pass more and more regulations, which require more oversight, and the perpetual motion machine never stops.

Why then was there a financial crisis on Wall Street? Was it due to Goldman Sachs and others not being properly regulated? No it was because they “paid to play” and the regulators looked the other way. Through massive lobbying efforts and large campaign contributions, lawmakers can be bought and paid for. Companies find it is cheaper to pay off the regulators than to actually comply with the regulations. Therefore the regulators and the companies form an unholy alliance, whereby the government agrees that they meet all regulatory standards, and the company operates with the governments approval, until someone dies. Or the markets crash, or an airplane falls out of the sky, or you fill in the blank.

Therefore the fault lies right at the feet of the government regulatory system. The next time you hear another politician say there is not enough regulation remember the families of the Upper Big Branch mining disaster, government regulation did absolutely nothing for them. Nor will it. You can not sue the federal government even though that is exactly where the buck should stop. If the Mine Safety and Health administration was doing their job then Upper Big Branch mine would have been shut down until they were in compliance. Government regulation cost 29 men their lives. How safe do you feel now?

It is better to depend on the Lord than to trust mortals. It is better to depend on the Lord than to trust influential people. Psalms 118:8-9 (GW)

But those who are waiting for the Lord will have new strength; they will get wings like eagles: running, they will not be tired, and walking, they will have no weariness. Isaiah 40:31 (BBE)

Along for the journey

4 thoughts on “Gov. Regulation Fails to Regulate Bad Behavior

  1. Allen. Absolutely one of the finest, well thought out articles I have ever had the pleasure to read! This is as clear as it gets for those who keep advocating ‘more regulation’ in order to reign in the greed. I especially appreciated the scripture verses interwoven within the article. Certainly puts it into crystal clear perspective as far as words written centuries before that prove once again what Solomon said when he wrote “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” -Ecclesiastes 1:14

    So good to know that this is not all there is and that Justice will one day be served!

    God bless!!

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