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When it comes to regulation, we should look at all sides of the story

Posted by Chance on June 6, 2007

I was watching a CBS News report about the poor in Mississippi. It spoke about a poor black girl who had problems receiving Medicare due to some bureaucratic red tape. Because of some new regulations, she had to fill out additional paperwork and have a face-to-face meeting 30 miles away, and she had no care.

Fair enough. No doubt the regulations were probably passed to ensure that people were not bilking the system, but every action has unintended consequences.

But let’s say the story was slightly different. Let’s say this person, or someone similar, was fortunate enough to have a little money saved up and was trying to start a business, like a manicure shop or a restaurant. And let’s say, due to some new regulations, she had to fill out additional paperwork, or go to some class 30 miles away to get her license at least once a year.

For some reason, I don’t imagine many media news outlets would report on such a story.

Regulations affect every area of our life, but why do we primarily hear reports about it when it comes to things such as getting food stamps or Medicare? Why don’t we hear about the endless regulations that get in the way of people who are trying to make a living for themselves? Regulations don’t just affect rich white men running large corporations; they affect the black women in Minnesota who simply want to make money braiding hair without having to pay $15,000 in tuition.

Here are my points.

1) Many people, including the media, tend to have a certain bias when it comes to regulations. Additional paperwork or any work at all when it comes to getting direct things from the government seem to get the most attention.

2) With regulation, there are multiple sides to the story. Like the red tape of Medicare that makes it harder for people to get treatment, red tape that is done in the interest of consumer protection makes it harder for the average person to start a business. The Institute for Justice covers such cases. With every law there can be good and bad consequences.

3) Regulation on the local or state level can make it too difficult for the poor to start businesses. State licensing and the like are usually passed by established, large corporations already in power that make it harder for new, smaller competitors to get on their feet. Eliminating some of these regulations should be something with which conservatives, libertarians, and liberals can all get on board.


2 Responses to “When it comes to regulation, we should look at all sides of the story”

  1. Neil said

    Excellent points about the unintended consequences. Countries that put up too many barriers for small business do much worse than other countries.

  2. Josh said

    Good post.

    I think that if focusing on the poor will get the government to lift regulations for all, that it’s a good technique to use.

    Have a good weekend.

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