Thursday, September 08, 2011

Regulations and Job Creation

The Republican plan for creating jobs in this economy includes an intention to create jobs by reducing the amount of regulation – regulations that get in the way of hiring people.

I think that this is a wonderful idea.

If the decision were left up to me, I would start by eliminating those regulations that prohibit the use of hit men – paid assassins. Because of this prohibition, there are a number of potentially tax-paying workers particularly adept at killing others that are not able to find employment that puts their skills to work, at least not in this country. Currently, a lot of these types of jobs - and the tax revenue that could potentially come from them, are mostly exported overseas.

Permitting the employment of paid assassins will have a ripple effect throughout the economy. Not only will paid assassins become tax-paying contributors to society, when they complete an assignment they will often create a new opening in whatever job their target originally held. On executing a contract against a judge, for example, a new judge will need to be appointed. The successful execution of an ex spouse could open up a job as a secretary or factory worker.

Finally, permitting the use of paid assassins will mean that others – those who wish to avoid being assassinated – will want to hire body guards and security consultants to help ensure that they are not assassinated. This will create even more jobs. The market for Kevlar suits and other working or casual apparel will likely boom, as will the market for bulletproof glass, security cameras, and walls topped with barbed wire.

Along similar lines, we should eliminate regulations that prohibit the use of professional burglars, hackers, arsons, vandals, and thugs. Each of these regulations provide a bar to employment that, if lifted, would put people to work.

A company might have use for an entire department of professional computer hackers whose job assignments could range from breaking into the computer systems of competing companies and steal their ideas to shutting down those computers to interfere with their ability to compete. Companies will not only have a use for a Department of Corporate Espionage and Sabotage, they will also need a department of counter-espionage. We should not leave out the fact that these would likely be high-paying, technical jobs.

At the same time, less-skilled laborers could find employment in new job positions such as that of the corporate thug. Their job would be to perform such business-related tasks as convincing homeowners to sell a particular prized piece of property, convincing a competitor to pack up and leave, and collecting on past-due accounts. In some cases - such as a group of thugs working for a local hospital or ambulance service, the corporate thug can simply create a demand for their employer's good or service.

Some skills, like that of the professional arson, may need to be licensed. There is a risk that an unskilled arsonist – in working with dangerous chemicals – could pose a threat either to himself or to others if he is not properly trained. Arsonist licensing will ensure that any professional arsonists has received the proper training that will allow him to do the job efficiently - in ways where the only risks belong to those that the arsonist or his employer want to put at risk.

Many of the regulations that we have in place are, at least in a moral sense, much like the regulations that I mention above. They are regulations that prevent companies from putting poison into the air that others breathe, or into the water that they drink. They are regulations that prevent the battering of another person’s body that a poorly designed or improperly used piece of machinery might cause and, in many cases, to prevent the loss of life.

In the context of the current political debate, it is ironic to note that a set of regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, thus preventing a person in Texas from losing their home or their life to a fire caused - or made worse - by those who contribute to global warming. To the person whose home is a pile of ash, it doesn’t matter much whether the cause is some company making profits by contributing to global warming, or making profits by hiring professional arsonists. It is the same pile of ash either way.

When I hear a politician talk about promoting the economy by reducing regulation, this is the type of thing that I imagine. I imagine some business executive living off of $30 million per year who knows of a way that he can get $31 million per year if his company were only permitted to do something that potentially kills people. To him, the deaths of a couple dozen, when weighed against the possibility of having another million dollars of revenue just isn't that important.

To be honest, I do not imagine an executive who is told that his business practices have killed a couple dozen people shrugging his shoulders in indifference. Instead, he responds by denying - even to himself - that he caused the deaths. This allows him to continue to think of himself as a good guy even as real people lay dead and dying in the community.

This describes what has happened with respect to smoking and climate change. Corporate executives see a regulation as hindering their profits and turn a blind eye to the fact that the regulation aims to prevent them from profiting by killing and maiming other people and destroying their property. They close their eyes, shove their fingers in their ears, and shout loudly, "Your regulations are hurting the economy! Your regulations are hurting the economy!" loud enough to drown out all other information.

A lot of regulations are nonsense – put in place by stupid people for stupid reasons. Many do not aim at all to promote the public good but have been manipulated to funnel money from the general citizen into the bank accounts of rich people who can afford expensive lobbyists and campaign contributions. Certainly, an eye should be cast at finding these regulations and getting rid of them.

However, this is consistent with arguing that there may, at the same time, be a need for new regulations. New information and new technology - or even changes in the world in which we live - imply a constant stream of new ways to profit by killing and maiming others or destroying their property. Insofar as we morally frown on profitable killing, maiming, and destruction of property, we may find the use of these practices themselves to be morally illegitimate and justifiably regulated.

We do not need in the office of the President - or any place else in government - office holders who see things only out of one eye or hears with only one ear - be it the left or the right. These types of people are half-blind or half-deaf to what serves the public good.

There are some things besides jobs that help to determine whether or not a particular regulation is a good idea. And I have not even talked about regulations that aim to protect national security or to prevent information or weapons from flling into the hands of our nation's enemies. Those are regulations, too.


mojo.rhythm said...


Mike Gage said...

If I had to guess, I think a Republican candidate would use something like the following if you put this problem to them:

"Eliminating a regulation against legally hired assassins would not be just because it would violate the rights of the person being killed. We want to eliminate regulations, but not at the expense of inhibiting individual rights."

There seems to be this faux libertarian positioning happening in the tea party influenced Republican party (even though none of these candidates would know Robert Nozick if he crawled out of the grave and punched them in the face).

They crow about individual liberties in these kinds of cases, but what about smog regulation? They are against it. But in the case of something like an environmental protection, we don't just threaten the life (or rights) of one person, we threaten the lives (and rights) of millions. If the above statement would be their response - and I think it's probably accurate - then the irony here is astounding.

Alonzo Fyfe said...

Mike Gage

I believe that you are correct in your suggested response - in spite of all of the obvious failed implications that come from it.

Kristopher said...

good post, you've got a sharp wit, and you make a good point. republicans should not use the blanket statement that regulations are bad they need to specificly point to some bad regulations they want to repeal. otheriwse they are just spewing less than useful sound bites.

dbonfitto said...

It's better politics to just underfund your police departments. This way, hitmen can operate with impunity while avoiding taxation on contract work.

Eliminating regulations openly is much more difficult than simply neglecting to fund them.