Skip to main content
Message Font: Serif | Sans-Serif
No. of Recommendations: 13
Why should we assume that the government knows best? I'm not arguing for a libertarian, free-for-all... but I believe that government interference in the marketplace has a net negative effect on society.

Really? You think the Erie Canal was bad for the economy of early America? You think the construction of airports is bad for the economy? The development of the jet engine? Which industry did you think was going to spend over a trillion dollars to learn how to put rockets and satellites in space?

Before the government regulated the airwaves, it was a complete mish mash of competing signals, all on top of each other. Do you know about the history of the telephone system? In New York there were dozens of systems, none compatible, and chances are you couldn't call your local fire station if your house was on fire. That was changed during WWI when people thought maybe "the market" hadn't performed quite perfectly, as you seem to think. Of course it had only had 50 years, so maybe we should have just waited another three lifetimes.

The intercontinental railroad was built because the government wanted it, not because "free enterprise" decided it was a good idea, and it changed America forever. The intercoastal railroad helped move goods up and down the east coast during World War II reliably. Nazi subs sank over 400 ships along the eastern seaboard during the same period. Would you say that was a "negative net result"?

Have you read Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle"? "Silent Spring" by Rachael Carson? Do you know about the patent medicine period of American history? Say, and how did the internet come to be, again? All the parts were just sitting there; why didn't "private industry" stitch them together for you? And, if I might be so bold as to ask, would you say having a leadership role in "the internet" puts America in a "net positive" or a "net negative" position?

That is a great example, but for my point, not yours. Government interference with the medical industry is the reason for the sky-rocketing prices for health care.

Curiously for your theory, the best health care in America comes from the largest - and government run - health system of the VA.

Safety-in-the-future is one of those things which people will often not pay for unless mandated.
But shouldn't that be their choice?

No. Mine safety went exactly nowhere for hundreds of years until it was mandated by regulation. "Oh, we can't do it!" screamed the mine owners. But when forced to, the number of deaths and injuries went down dramatically and instantaneously. Likewise with the adoption of seat belts. And aircraft inspections. And lots of other things.

Unfortunately, (returning to mining, for instance), people still need to eat, and there is always an oversupply of labor, so people will take unsafe jobs. Now the "market" actually mandates "un-safeness", because safety costs money, so it is economically desirable for a producer to be unsafe. However if regulation forces a level playing field on all producers, then safety causes no economic harm to any single producer - indeed, it encourages them to become more efficient at providing that level of safety, and that is a good thing. (The same is true for the disposal of toxic wastes, food safety, and many other issues.)

I have never gotten a response to this question: if "the market" is so perfect at everything, and if some regulation is so bad at it, how did America get to be the largest, strongest, and richest economy in the world, even as we had significant regulation of industry since the beginning of the 20th century? Can you explain that apparent contradiction? If you can, I think you have the makings of a really good book. If you can't, perhaps you could re-examine your "the sky is falling" philosophy about how government and/or regulation destroys the economy.

Print the post  


When Life Gives You Lemons
We all have had hardships and made poor decisions. The important thing is how we respond and grow. Read the story of a Fool who started from nothing, and looks to gain everything.
Contact Us
Contact Customer Service and other Fool departments here.
What was Your Dumbest Investment?
Share it with us -- and learn from others' stories of flubs.
Work for Fools?
Winner of the Washingtonian great places to work, and Glassdoor #1 Company to Work For 2015! Have access to all of TMF's online and email products for FREE, and be paid for your contributions to TMF! Click the link and start your Fool career.