A key plank in the Republican platform is the elimination of government regulations. The rationale is that government regulations cost jobs. But the jobs argument is a red herring.
The actual impetus has more to do with corporate profits and campaign donations.
The reality is that even if one product is deemed unacceptable, the market demand for that product will still exist – and whatever products fills the void should create an equivalent number of jobs. For example, when asbestos and lead paint were determined to cost lives, the government stepped in and essentially regulated these products out of business. Luckily corporate money at that time was much less important and the good of the people easily trumped “jobs” or any other misdirection corporations could dream up.
Did the country slip into a recession because the asbestos and lead paint industries no longer existed? No. Other companies that produced better, less harmful products gained market share.
Today a similar war is being waged over coal, but now corporate money is wagging the dog and the good of the people has taken a backseat.
Employees in the coal industry are nearly seven times as likely to die on the job than similar occupations. They also miss four times as many days of work. Additionally, some 24,000 people die each year from the affects of coal. So regardless of how many hypothetical jobs are lost in the conversion to clean energy, as long as another product is available – and is less detrimental – we should support that change.
The problem is that Republicans portray regulation as the enemy – instead of the public protection devise they really are.
The truth is, regulations only exist because some unscrupulous or ignorant corporation messed it up for the rest of us. When Congress passed Dodd-Frank, it was a result of banks acting badly – not some imaginary lust for punishing big business. When a compounding facility in Massachusetts failed to operate within the law – causing a fungal meningitis outbreak that has claimed fifty lives so far – calls to increase regulations are an effort to prevent future issues not an affront to capitalism. And when Congress passed Sarbanes–Oxley it was a direct result of Enron’s failure to self-regulate – costing many their life savings and thousands of jobs.
The vast majority of Americans would love it if their mortgage documents were a few short pages instead of a Stephen King-like horror novel. Or if they could board a plane without having to take off half of their clothes. However, the same greed that makes capitalism so successful also leads to many doing whatever it takes to increase their share of the pie. These deviants are the main reason for our sluggish economy. Pretending otherwise helps no one but the very corporate despoilers that precipitated the problems in the first place.