Monday, August 19, 2019

Deregulation. Really?

There was a time when deregulation was all the rage. In fact, it's still all the rage. Alan Freeman writes:

The move to deregulate has been gathering steam worldwide since the 1980s as companies seek to maximize profit, backed by the resurgence of an ideological right that sees the undermining of taxes and regulation as a pathway to eroding and ultimately destroying the welfare state.

But the grounding of all of Boeing's 737 Max fleet has caused some to question the wisdom of the current policy:

As the New York Times has reported, FAA engineers never independently assessed the risks involved with the MCAS software that ended up forcing both planes into a deadly nosedive because Boeing was basically in charge of approving its own aircraft. As the Times reports, “the cozy relationship” between Boeing and the FAA meant that during the certification process for the Max, FAA management sometimes overruled their own staff after getting pressure from Boeing.

And there have been other recent examples of the havoc caused by deregulation:

The 2013 rail crash at Lac-Megantic, with the loss of 47 lives, has been linked to a lax regulatory environment that allowed a poorly maintained railway to put a single-man crew in charge of a train of highly flammable crude oil loaded in flimsy tanker cars that ran through the centre of a town.
In addition to the human tragedy, that disaster has cost the Quebec and federal governments hundreds of millions of dollars in cleanup and compensation costs.
And in the U.K., a public inquiry is investigating the disastrous 2017 Grenfell fire where 72 people were killed in a highrise public-housing project. Much of the inquiry will focus on how lax regulations allowed flammable cladding material to be installed on the building’s exterior during a renovation, which ended up turning the building into a raging inferno.

Nonetheless, the push to deregulate continues:

Studies from something called the Mercatus Center, a Virginia-based think tank that assiduously tracks the cost of regulations and comes to the startling conclusion that if it weren’t for regulations brought in since 1980, the U.S. economy would be 25 per cent larger than it is today — a tidy $4-trillion (U.S.).

 A good rule in all of life, however, is to always follow the money:

And what is the Mercatus Center? It turns out it’s a libertarian think tank dedicated to dismantling regulations and bankrolled by the notorious Koch Brothers, the secretive, union-busting, climate-denying American billionaires who have had a huge influence on turning the Republican Party and the U.S. far to the right. The Mercatus Center specializes in big scary numbers. It recently did a study that estimated the cost of “Medicare for All,” the promise of progressive Democratic presidential candidates, at a gob-smacking $32.6 trillion.

And now "Canada’s leading business group is looking to the libertarian Koch brothers and their acolytes for leadership. Pretty scary."

Simply put, deregulation has nothing to do with the common good.



Toby said...

Charles Koch as later day Howard Roark? Kochs and their ilk can dress it up any way they like. In the end it's just selfishness and greed.

Capitalism is like a junkyard dog; it has its uses but it needs to be attached to a strong chain.

Owen Gray said...

Exactly, Toby. Capitalism should never be given free range.

The Mound of Sound said...

Can you say 'Listeria'? De-reg is, at its heart, a transfer by government of public-interest protection to the corporate sector in keeping with the neoliberal ethos. It's tantamount to delegating bank security to Stephen Reid and Paddy Mitchell.

Owen Gray said...

It's government for profit, Mound -- not for the many but for the few.

John B. said...

Who let that billionaire off his leash?

We did.

Externalize the cost. They'll pick up the extras and won't even know they're paying. They'll be too busy looking for the crumbs they thought they scored when we pitched them.

Owen Gray said...

Exactly, John. We allowed the billionaires off their leashes. And they've torn up the yard, trying to bury their bones.