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Regulations: The Good the Bad and the Aggravating

By: Roger Sheppard
By: Roger Sheppard

What started out as a good thing has gotten way out of hand


Regulations. No one like them. They cost all of us money. They complicate our lives. They can discourage businesses from creating jobs. So, why do we have them? We have them because somewhere along the way, someone decided it was in everyone’s best interest to have them. Like most things in this country, we have a love-hate relationship with regulations. When we see them as a benefit, we like them. When we see them as an infringement on our rights or a dis-incentive to business, we don’t like them. The problem is, not everyone can agree on what is a proper amount of regulation. I might feel a certain regulation – such as having the F-A-A certify that planes are safe to fly – is a good one. But I might feel that regulations – such as the guidelines under which the T-S-A screens passengers who get on those planes – go too far. Everyone complains about regulations. The problem is that regulations are often drawn up and enforced by nameless, faceless bureaucrats, who don’t have to answer to anyone at the polls or anywhere else. They operate in their own world, deciding what is best for you and me. And that’s what we hate. That many times, we don’t find out about a new regulation until it’s already in place and then it takes an Act of Congress to get it over-turned. I think about the recently enacted cell phone law in West Virginia. It’s a classic case of technology out-pacing the law. If we could roll back the clock about 20 years, when cell phones were big bulky items, thousands of lives could have been saved if laws or regulations had been put in place THEN, prohibiting the use of these devices by motorists. Now, the genie is out of the bottle, and we – as a society – are racing to try to put it back in. Would those regulations have been supported back then? Perhaps. But we, as a society, are slow to react to change. We don’t want to inhibit innovation so we tend to let things develop and see where they lead. But clearly, regulations have gotten out of hand. Bringing them back into line will be difficult. That’s this week’s editorial --- Some additional thoughts… Often, regulations are put into place to push one agenda over another. Most people in West Virginia feel that the Obama administration has declared war on coal, choosing to support so-called green sources of energy over it. The Environmental Protection Agency has been largely given a free-hand to push an anti-coal agenda. But how solar or wind energy can come close to generating the huge amount of energy that coal does in this country, at the same pace in which coal-fired power plants are being de-commissioned, has not yet been explained. In the meantime, jobs are being cut and community economies are being ravaged by regulations whose total impact no one cared to worry about. But in a nation of more than 300 million people, who use cars, planes and trains to move around throughout the entire continent and around the world, there are going to be rules and regulations. When you can use a single currency – the dollar – anywhere in this vast country; when you can use A-T-Ms to get cash from your own account almost anywhere you go; when you can drive a car and pretty much depend on the laws to be the same no matter where you go – all of this requires coordination and regulation. And it requires a vast number of people to work on all of the details that we take for granted.

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