Regulations – Freedom (Part 4)

How about all the regulations.

If I were intelligent enough to choose for myself where to eat or shop, or where to obtain services, well, we wouldn’t need thousands of licensing agents and hundreds of bureaus giving out business licenses and health inspections and safety inspections and housing inspections.  I could decide for myself if I wanted to buy lemonade from a four year old, or I could decide the health risks were too great and opt for a lemonade from home.  Instead the government says that a 4-year-old-girl needs a $400 license and a health inspection to sell lemonade in her front yard.  Why?  Because you are too stupid to choose for yourself who to do business with and under what circumstances.

I found this article about the Chicago Department of Health destroying hundreds of pounds and thousands of dollars worth of uncontaminated food in a licensed shared kitchen because one of the cooks may not have had a proper business license.  They would not allow the legally licensed chefs to remove their food, even for personal use.

Many of the commenters were concerned about the waste of food, but I was scared at the implications that this gives.  The wasted food is simply a symptom of the problem; overreaching, intrusive, large government.  The government has the power to destroy the food of licensed business owners, effectively putting them out of business on a whim, or at the very least costing them thousands of dollars, and the individuals involved have no recourse.

If I lived in a free county, I could decide if I wanted to buy food grown using pesticides, and I could decide if I wanted to live in a cheaper apartment that had lead paint.  I could decide if I wanted to use a drug that could have miraculous benefits, and take the risks involved with using an untested drug that has negative side effects in some small percent.  I could buy milk from my friendly Amish neighbor, without fear of a debilitating fine if it turns out they don’t have a license.  I could decide if I wanted to pay a friend or neighbor to bake a cake for me or style my hair, and risk her cooking with dirty utensils or using a non-sterilized comb.  That’s what freedom means.  I make choices, and then I live with the consequences.  Would it really bite if I got sick and died from poisoned food?  Yeah, it would.  But I’m confident of a few things; in a free market, companies work for profit, and a very effective way of increasing profits is by pleasing your customers.  Killing customers with poisoned food will not please customers, so I think I can come to the conclusion that companies will try to avoid it.  Yes, cutting costs and using cheap products also increases profit margins, but only in the short term.  If you’re afraid that a company will try to make absurd profits by killing a bunch of people, then only frequent established companies.  Trust Bayer, and don’t try drugs that have only been on the market for a year.  But let someone else have the opportunity to try the new drug if they want.  Let people choose!  That’s what freedom is!

Think on this; most restaurants take about three years before they start making a profit.  They need to put money into the restaurant for three whole years before they will start getting anything out of it.  Do you think that a restaurant will stay open for three years if people start getting sick the first week they are open?  What do you think will be the better motivation for cooking good food; following scores of government regulations, or pleasing customers enough to stay in business long enough to start making a profit?

I make the best baklava many people have ever had.  It is much better than any I have ever purchased, and have been told the same thing by others repeatedly.  What if I wanted to sell it?  Quite illegal, of course.  I don’t have an approved kitchen, and since it is in a private residence I could not get it approved.  I have the legal option of renting space in a kitchen and getting the required licenses.  Which will cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.  Why?  What if you really wanted to try my baklava?  In this, the freest of nations in the world, you are not allowed to purchase something I cook.  I can assure you my kitchen is clean, and I eat the things I cook every single day, and have never gotten sick from my food.  But that’s quite irrelevant.  The government has to be involved in these interactions.

The assumption seems to be that if we were given free reign to buy, sell and produce as we please, all the wealthy businesses would immediately begin doing things to take advantage of the public and the results would be horrific.  That’s a pretty easy premise to push, since many people seem to already believe they are being screwed by big business.  Well, I disagree, and I tend to assume that, driven by profits, companies will do what pleases the most people.  Now, we can come up with examples that prove me wrong pretty easily.  I mean, meat packing companies used to just throw dead rats and rat poison into their meat.  Many people believe that practice stopped because of government regulations.  That’s hard to disprove, because of the timeline.  But the fact is there was huge public outcry at the time the practice was exposed, which led to the government responding with regulations.  Can we be sure the public response did not also affect the meat packaging industry?  That they would have continued to do so, knowing their customers knew and were furious?  I can not imagine a scenario today where a company put dead rats in their food and, first, were able to keep it hidden, and once it were exposed were then able to stay in business.

A woman accused Urban Outfitters of copying her jewelry design.  It did look very similar, but it was by no means a new idea.  Nevertheless, in less than 24 hours Urban Outfitters pulled the jewelry line from their website and told stores to do the same.  Because the public outcry was negative.  Not because the government came in and said, “This is a copyright violation, you need to take this product down.”

Now, that doesn’t have to do with food and public health and such, so it isn’t a good example.  Let’s look at the food and health industry, then.  In my ideal world, we wouldn’t have government regulations and certifications.  One reason why is because many government regulations are much more a response to public outcry, rather than regulations having to do with what is actually best for the consumer.  Take the use of DDT as an example.  Public outcry was negative, and so the government imposed costly, useless regulations (that actually resulted in millions of deaths, but who’s counting?).  The same thing with nuclear power.  Scientists, R&D, quality control personnel in a specific industry will have a much better idea what is safe and healthy than a government bureaucrat will.  I imagine, instead of the department of health, there could be a private company in various industries that a company could choose to seek approval from.  Why not?  Why should the government do it?  A private company could do it better.  We have private standards for lots of things, like the SATs and the ACTs.  Not government agencies, but they’ve become a standard that colleges trust.  My aunt works in the dairy farm industry.  She used to work for the government, inspecting dairy farms and making sure they were following government standards.  She was recruited by Dean, hired to be an in-house quality control inspector.  She made almost twice as much.  Why would they do that?  Why would a big company put money into hiring someone like her?  Maybe because they want to provide a healthy, quality product to their customers.

Now, I know people will continue to say, “We can’t do that!”  We need the government to impose a level of standards, for the common welfare.  Lives are at stake.  There are obvious negative results to that to that justification.  First, it just limits our choices.  I can’t choose to sell a food product from my home, you can’t choose to buy lemonade from a lemonade stand.  You can’t choose to pay anyone with a car for a ride, and if you don’t have a couple hundred thousand dollars you can’t get approved to charge other people for a ride in your car.  For simple business licenses the cost is too great for many people to overcome.  Secondly, even with the billions of dollars being spent by the government on licensing agents and hundreds of bureaus of safety and such, and the billions of dollars being spent by companies trying to follow all the regulations, even the useless ones, there are still problems!  Every few years there is an e-coli breakout.  Recently in spinach and peanut butter.  Even with all the regulations, you still get drugs pulled off the market for extreme side effects.  Even with all the auto regulations, you still get cars with faulty brakes.  Which had a stronger effect on Toyota; the government response, or millions of horrified consumers?  Even with medical regulations, you still get deaths from routine operations and incidental infections.

So, why not restore our freedoms and save our money and let the free market sort it out?  It might even improve things; if you didn’t just assume your plastic surgeon with a medical degree was infallible because the government gave him a license, you could do some research and find that he’s actually not that good.  People could do research on the drugs they take, instead of assuming ‘FDA approved’ means it’s good for you.  We should be free to purchase products we want.  Individuals and companies should be free to provide products they think will benefit their customers.  There are risks.  That’s what freedom brings, and I think it’s worth it.


About whyimconservative

I'm a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom with a Biochemistry degree living in Austin. I love my kids, my husband and my country. I want to explain why I'm conservative.

Posted on August 3, 2011, in Freedom and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. You know, I have to tell you, I really enjoy this blog and the insight from everyone who participates. I find it to be refreshing and very informative. I wish there were more blogs like it. Anyway, I felt it was about time I posted, Ive spent most of my time here just lurking and reading, but today for some reason I just felt compelled to say this.

  2. Just found your blog because you posted a link in your comments on Ann Coulter’s latest article, and started browsing your posts. You are very articulate and spot on! I plan to come back often.

  3. Phillip K. Howard is a lawyer and is leading a movement to change some of the idiotic laws that lead to things like lemonade stands being shut down.
    His site is excellent.

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