Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cheaters Unchained Business Predators Prove the Need for Regulation

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cheaters Unchained Business Predators Prove the Need for Regulation

Article excerpt

Item: The CEO of Volkswagen has resigned after revelations that his company committed fraud on an epic scale, installing software on its diesel cars that detected when their emissions were being tested, producing deceptively low results.

Item: The former president of a peanut company has been sentenced to 28 years in prison for knowingly shipping tainted products that killed nine people and sickened 700.

Item: Rights to a drug used to treat parasitic infections were acquired by Turing Pharmaceuticals, which specializes not in developing new drugs but in buying existing drugs and jacking up their prices. In this case, from $13.50 a tablet to $750.

It has been a good few days for connoisseurs of business predators.

No doubt I, like anyone who points out ethical lapses on the part of companies, will be accused of demonizing business. But I'm not claiming that all businesspeople are demons, just that some aren't angels.

There are, it turns out, people in the corporate world who will do whatever it takes, including fraud that kills people, to make a buck. And we need effective regulation to police that kind of bad behavior, not least so that ethical businesspeople aren't at a disadvantage when competing with less scrupulous types. But we knew that, right?

Well, we used to know it, thanks to the muckrakers and reformers of the Progressive Era. But Ronald Reagan insisted that government is always the problem, never the solution, and this has become dogma on the right.

As a result, an important part of America's political class has declared war on even the most obviously necessary regulations.

A case in point: This week Jeb Bush published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal denouncing the Obama administration for issuing "a flood of creativity-crushing and job-killing rules." Never mind his misuse of cherry-picked statistics or that private-sector employment has grown much faster under President Barack Obama's "job killing" policies than it did under Mr. Bush's brother's administration.

What are the terrible, unjustified regulations Mr. Bush proposes to scrap?

Carbon regulation must go, of course, because doing nothing about climate change has become part of the Republican identity. …

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