Thus, there’s a trade-off between personal liberty and social cohesiveness. A similar argument demonstrates the utility of group economic welfare.

I quite agree. To go back to your example of eminent domain, the civil libertarian views it — and taxes — as regrettable but necessary infringements on personal freedom.

I suspect you agree with that POV at least once a year, on the day you do your taxes. :-)

I will definitely agree with the assertion that protecting personal liberty from ALL assaults, be they from government, corporations, or individuals, is of the highest importance.


That’s the opposite extreme. On the one hand, we can have total anarchy, in which personal freedom is destroyed by individuals, or total authoritarianism, in which personal freedom is destroyed by the government. The ideal is a carefully constructed set of laws that maximize personal freedom. By sacrificing the freedom to rob my neighbor, I gain the freedom to accumulate my own wealth.

Precisely. Reasonable people can debate, on the margins, over what is and is not included in that “carefully constructed” set. Most americans seem to agree, for example, that a vendor should, in principle, required to serve all comers. Reasonable people can disagree when and if there are limited exceptions on the margins to that principle, as in the case of the Colorado baker that declines to bake cakes celebrating gay weddings.

I agree entirely. The only restriction on freedom I accept is Oliver Wendell Holmes’ restriction e.g., on shouting “fire!” in a crowded theater.

Yes, and even THAT is on the margins. Under freedom of speech, you can yell fire in that theatre all you like. However, you fall afoul of laws regarding public safety and becoming a public nuisance.

I see business regulation as a matter of protecting individual freedom from the depredations of power concentrated in businesses, and I see social welfare systems not as a matter of concern for unfortunate individuals but rather as a protection against revolution. Ask Marie Antoinette about the benefits of providing bread to the people.

It’s important to point out here that there are diverse classifications of business regulations. Not all of them provide proximate benefit to an individual citizen. With OSHA, it’s a tight relationship to the worker; with EPA or financial regulation, the proximate beneficiary is the environment and the financial system respectively; you can argue that *eventually* as the onion is peeled, the citizen benefits, but the citizen is never going to perceive the benefit the same way as they perceive a safety regulation.

This unfortunately creates a rather large body regulatory law which to which the benefits of the regulation are questionable. And in the cases I posted previously, with regulation there is always the risk of unintended consequences being worse than the problem it was intended to solve.

That all said, the largest concern about regulations in general is the aggregate cost of compliance. Ken Langone is very blunt in stating, for example, that he and his partner could never have gotten Home Depot off the ground in today’s regulatory environment. So, even *if* one argues that each and every regulation in today’s code provides value to the citizen, that still has to be weighed against the notion that the aggregate cost of those regulations could be costing us thousands of good paying jobs.

Taking the line of reasoning another step further, governments HAVE banned the use of cigarettes in public places. This gives us the ideal example of balancing the freedom to poison oneself against the freedom to poison others.

Sure. The individual retains the right to kill himself, but he doesn’t have the right to do it in a place where he might kill others. It’s libertarian perfection. :-)

Can you cite an example of a regulation that doesn’t protect anybody?

See above. That’s kind of tangential to the broader concern, which is simply to say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Well, in this case, the road to a depressed economy is paved with regulations. Even if 100% of them are well intended, the sheer volume of them can prevent startups from starting up.

Large corporations don’t mind regulations all that much, it should be said; they just hire another accountant and move on. But the entrepeneur can’t afford to hire even ONE accountant; for him/her, compliance could be such a high % of profits that it makes the venture nonviable.

And we all lose, then, because we never get the jobs that would have been created.

The point here is that the basic regulation wasn’t bad or wrong; it accomplished a great deal over the country. But there was this one exceptional situation that the regulation didn’t address. The proper response to amend the regulation to address that odd situation, not to eliminate the regulation.

Sure. This is a great example of unintended consequences, which along with aggretative cost are the two main problems with regulation which we don’t manage well.

A shorter example: Prior to the ADA, NY State had its own version of a Disabilities Act. Like the ADA, it required an accessible ramp for wheelchairs to be built to enter all state-owned facilities. Well, up someplace in the Adirondacks is a park with a lake and a picnic area that is popular with hikers; it is accessible by hiking several miles up a rocky trail that has some very steep areas. It is not possible to access it in a wheelchair.

Of course, the restroom facility the state built there had to have an accessible ramp. :-)

It is absurd to expect that this legislation would correctly address every possible configuration in the financial community.


We shouldn’t simply throw up our hands and abandon all efforts to regulate the financial community because it’s complicated.

I agree. Regulations should be well-targeted to specific problems, not these broad sweeping omnibuses which, in this case, ended up penalizing the innocent. (That being the community banks).

The Federal Register is humongous. Yes, that in itself is burdensome — but it beats all hell out of anarchy.

Yea, but you could rip out half of the Register and not have anarchy. I read someplace that 3/4 of the current Register (or maybe it was half) didn’t exist in the 1980’s. The 1980’s were not the Wild Wild West.

But do you think that the money that would otherwise have been spent on the luxury goods simply disappeared?

No. It went out of the country to buy the same asset overseas, thus avoiding the tax.

The reduction in spending on luxury goods was exactly compensated for in purchases of other goods or in investment.

Sure. The Greek yacht builder did great. The Maine builders, though, went out of business.

My hunch is that the tax was eliminated due to pressure from the wealthy rather than any economic rationale.

I …..don’t think so.

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Data Driven Econophile. Muslim, USA born. Been “woke” 2x: 1st, when I realized the world isn’t fair; 2nd, when I realized the “woke” people are full of shit.

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