A Surfeit of Help

Courtesy of the Washington Post:

OBAMA TO TAKE STEPS TO BOOST OVERSIGHT OF OIL MARKETS

Super.

The article unintentionally encapsulates the hitch with this in only a couple of sentences:

A senior administration official said the president wants to increase the number of “cops on the beat” to stop illegal speculation and market manipulation, though he did not point to any examples of such illegal activity. The official said that oil prices have been rising mainly because of growing global demand and political uncertainty in the Persian Gulf.

So let me make sure that I understand this: the government is going to intervene on our behalf, to stop an illegal practice that we have no evidence is actually occurring, by offering a solution that…..will not address the likely primary cause.

Got it. Thanks, guys.

As we have discussed before, government regulation is often its own worst enemy. It most certainly isn’t a way to make something more efficient, with “government efficiency” being perhaps the best all-time oxymoron. But to make you feel better about them, seemingly every new Rule-&-Reg comes with a feel-good PR campaign, usually along the lines of “this regulation won’t rest while it fights for YOU”. Subsequently, when the regulation achieves hardly any of its stated goals, and instead creates several unintended consequences, what happens? Yep: more regulations to fix the new problems, which the initial regulations elicited.

It’s as if our Government were a morbidly obese yet error-prone chef who always eats his/her mistakes: their solution IS the problem.

Another example: on dailycaller.com, the unintended consequences of the Dodd-Frank law (passed back in 2010) has already had a profound effect on the banking industry, and as you might expect by now, it has not been what you might call ‘positive’.

Quote from the article:

Regulators have written only 185 of the expected 400 rules. But those 185  rules are expected to cost the private sector more than 24 million man-hours  each year to comply.

The tracker has also found that those 185 rules take up more than 5,300  pages.

“For example, let’s just get it down to the community banker — the person  that loans money to most of the small businesses in our country,” Neugebauer  said in a phone interview. “We’ve had a few community bankers come in here and  say, ‘you know, they’re hiring a lot more compliance officer than they are loan  officers.’ That is increasing the cost of banking and, ultimately, they have to  charge higher interest rates and higher fees.”

“The other thing that it impacts for our small businesses is because of some  of the new rules and regulations, there’s a great deal of uncertainty about  certain types of financial activity that some of these entities can engage in,” Neugebauer added. “I think that as these rules come out, what we’re trying to  ascertain, and our committee has had a number of hearings on, is what the  unintended consequences of some of these rules and regulations, but more  importantly, just the sheer volume of them.”

What’s that old line? “We’re from the government, and we’re here to help“?

Maybe they should change their tagline:

3 responses to “A Surfeit of Help

  1. I am comforted by regulation. The opposite is unregulation, then anarchy?

    • I was unaware that it was a zero-sum game. Too much of anything is lethal, even water. We are, literally, drowning in regulation.
      The answer isn’t the end to all regulation, since you’re right: anarchy would reign. Rather, the answer is (as it is is with most things) a return to moderation and common sense.
      When it takes a neighbor of mine who is a builder two+ years to get all the permits needed to begin a building project, we have gone long past moderation OR common sense in this area.

  2. Pingback: Have a nice day! « Two Heads are Better Than One

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