If you wanted to show how important government is to daily life, it would be hard to do better than this anti-government video from the right-wing Competitive Enterprise Institute:
If you turn off the comical music, the video becomes a rather convincing demonstration that government is essential to a well-functioning economy. As a commenter over at Slog pointed out:
…this exact same video would be a pretty good advertisement for your federal tax dollars at work for you. Starting with, when you turn on your radio, and hear only one station at each frequency, instead of an unintelligible jumble of stations trying to drown each other out, yep, that’s the FCC, just as the arrowed caption says. And so on through the video.
Follow along if you will. The Food and Drug Administration ensures that your mouthwash and vitamins aren’t harmful, and that the advertising is truthful. The Environmental Protection Agency prevents your refrigerator from using CFCs as a coolant, the better to enforce an international agreement halting depletion of the ozone layer. USDA inspectors keep unhealthy and potentially deadly contaminants out of your breakfast. The Treasury Department makes sure the banking industry functions, at least most of the time, while other agencies prevent counterfeiting. (Without those, your trip to the ATM wouldn’t be worth much.) And the government keeps alcohol and tobacco out of the hands of kids.
There’s plenty I’m not going to cover now. You can easily fill in the blanks yourself.
What’s weird though, is that CEI is objecting to this stuff. But what would they prefer? Spoiled milk on your Cheerios, topped off with a sprinkle of rat-feces laced sugar? An unregulated commercial banking sector? Underage drinking? What?
The real question isn’t what regulatory compliance costs, but what it would cost not to have these commonsense regulations. And I suspect you could find at least a partial answer in any undeveloped corrupt country where the government doesn’t serve the public interest. I mean, if CEI hates American regulation so very much, perhaps they should ship out to Zimbabwe or Uzbekistan or someplace.
Condensed version: the CEI presents this video as evidence of the government attacking my freedom, when in the vast majority of cases it’s the government restricting someone else’s freedom to do something that would be bad for me.
Eric de Place
Well said, Eldan!It finally dawned on me that the reason this video makes sense to CEI is because they see the world—and American government—through the lens of business interests. For them, it’s a drag to worry about consumer protection, paying for externalities, or following the same rules as everyone else. If, by contrast, you see the role of government as serving the public interest, the video is nonsensical.
Make no mistake, however, that the CEI does have a point – even if they have taken it way too far. When you run a business and have to follow regulations that are meant to protect but are useless or actually make things worse, you start to wonder why regulators who issue such stupid rules have the power to mess with your business. Ask any relatively intelligent conservative business owner about the subject and you’ll get a laundry list of truly stupid and wasteful hoops that they have had to jump through at the hands of the government.Like any large organization, government sometimes does some pretty stupid things. One tiny example: EPA’s Energy Star program recently approved a gasoline powered alarm clock. Thankfully, the GAO’s investigation into the Energy Star program has produced a stronger and better program – which is as it should be.The real tragedy here is that businesses support the CEI which openly advocates throwing the regulatory baby out with the asinine regulation bathwater. Everybody would be better served by producing a list of poorly designed regulatory systems and how to make them better and more efficient. If the CEI wasn’t producing this kind of garbage, those of us who believe in Government regulation would be more likely to listen when they have reasonable complaints about how regulation effects their businesses and the jobs that they support.