Ronald Reagan was lauded for two things above all: downsizing government and simplifying complex issues. So for a moment let’s follow his example. Here’s an easy way to consider if you truly want to get government completely off corporate backs. Don’t view this as an abstract political, economic, or academic concept worthy of a robust debate. Instead make it personal. Take whomever you love most — adult, child, pet — and then strap that loved one into a pressurized aluminum tube, to be hurtled through the troposphere at four-fifths the speed of sound, roughly 550 miles per hour. And all the while, trust that this airplane was serviced properly, with no shortcuts, in a suitable facility with competent, licensed mechanics who understood their work and were screened by security and for alcohol and drug use. Trust that the crew was trained properly and is earning a living wage. Trust completely in the oversight of the airline executives du jour who show loyalty only to shareholders and have golden parachutes for themselves.
Then ask yourself if you wouldn’t maybe like a few inspectors to double-check their efforts. You may find that you don’t have that much faith in Corporate America after all.
One Oklahoma bureaucrat complains that US authorities are trying to impose a “one-size-fits-all” regulatory regime. But one man’s one-size-fits-all is another man’s equality-under-the-law. Because it minimises compliance costs, simple regulation is exactly what a rational actor in a free market ought to want. The alternative — a jumble of authorities like the one that characterised the US banking system until 2008 — promotes jurisdiction shopping, regulatory arbitrage and one-off deals with interested legislators.