Lifting the Regulatory Burden Self-Discipline Must Substitute for the Heavy Hand of Government

By Carpenter, Will D. | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), March 3, 1995 | Go to article overview
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Lifting the Regulatory Burden Self-Discipline Must Substitute for the Heavy Hand of Government


Carpenter, Will D., St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


One of the highest priorities of the new Congress is to bring relief to a wide range of society from burdensome, costly and inefficient regulations that intrude into our lives - both on the job and in every aspect of our personal lives.

Politicians of both parties are embracing the "less government is better" theme. Certainly, for more than 40 years, Congress has passed law after law that has resulted in a proliferation of federal and state agencies, thousands of regulations and tens of thousands of regulators.

In the rush to reduce the number of the more burdensome, nonproductive agencies, laws, regulations and regulators, we need to keep in mind that these laws are the result of perceived needs and, in most cases, real needs. Environmental issues, white-collar crime, labor union corruption, sexual and racial discrimination are examples where needed corrections would not have taken place without laws and regulations in place.

At best, the regulatory systems are inefficient and costly; at worst, they are ineffective and punish responsible citizens while not meeting the needs for which the law was passed.

The only way to have a government with minimum intrusion and control is for each segment of our society to take steps to solve and correct problems before it becomes necessary for government action. Each has the responsibility to "clean up its own act."

There are any number of ways to do this in a legal, ethical way: trade association criteria that establish and demand high standards of conduct for members; union rules that are strictly enforced; more use of external oversight mechanisms; vigorous use of an audit system; and a continuing effort to identify and solve emerging issues.

Unfortunately, every segment of our society has its share of Neanderthals, renegades and outlaws. These people create the problems that lead to the unwanted laws and the bloated government bureaucracy that swallows all of our freedoms. The most effective way to deal with most of the bad actions is by the organization of their peers. A substantial number of problems can be resolved before the necessity for government action. There will always be unethical and evil people, but they become easier to identify and punish when operating in an atmosphere of high standards.

History teaches us that failure to take pro-active steps to change a situation has brought on sometimes punitive, always costly and mostly incompetent government control to correct the problem.

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