Trump’s recent statement that 75% of federal regulations would be eliminated under his presidency is outright terrifying. On all levels, there are heaps of crazy regulations. Just yesterday, I learnt that it is illegal in Ohio to leave a running vehicle unattended. I cannot recall a particular instance where I left my vehicle running whilst I ran inside to grab a forgotten item, over to the mailbox to drop off an envelope, or some similarly quick jaunt away from my running vehicle … but I’m sure I *did*.
The thing is, as silly as any specific regulation may seem, there IS logic behind it. The rational may be outdated and thus no longer applicable, but laws were not enacted for the sake of using up legislative time. I doubt regulations were enacted as a farce. It would be an interesting academic study to enumerate all regulations for a particular branch and research the history and rational for each of them. Some are obvious — fleet fuel economy standards are to reduce oil usage. Emission standards are meant to reduce pollution. Then there are regulations such as 15 U.S.C. §§330a — “No person may engage, or attempt to engage, in any weather modification activity in the United States unless he submits to the Secretary [of Commerce] such reports with respect thereto, in such form and containing such information, as the Secretary may by rule prescribe. The Secretary may require that such reports be submitted to him before, during, and after any such activity or attempt.” Sounds a little bit silly at first, but if nothing else tracking weather modification attempts and their wider impact has value.
There are regulations on the banking industry, oversight of derivative markets, rules governing stock trading. Publicly traded companies are required to file accurate financial information with the SEC. It is not legal to dump toxic chemicals into the environment. The FDA has guidelines that are meant to ensure the safety of foods and labeling laws so you have a basic idea of what you are consuming. There are fleet average fuel efficiency requirements. There are laws against manipulating energy markets. There are regulations that protect intellectual property.
I understand the argument that the free market would drive some of these same ends. If fuel economy is a concern to people, then more fuel efficient cars will be in demand. But that depends on honest, accurate reporting from corporations, and individuals being able to get the information they need to make an appropriate decision. I, personally, do not want to research the reputation of ten different companies before purchasing a bag of flour. I enjoy the fact that a bag that contains something other than ground up wheat lists the ‘extras’ – at the point of purchase, I can read the bag and decide if it is something I want to purchase. I also know that there are random inspections and any company lying about their ingredients is likely to incur a significant fine.
Another ‘free market’ example is the reduction of polystyrene packaging. Thirty years ago, any fast food purchase included a Styrofoam container (or three). In the 80’s, polystyrene materials were manufactured using chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). When this became fairly widespread knowledge, manufacturing processes were changed to use HCFC-22 (better but still ozone layer impacting). Another public movement against the material came about because it does not biodegrade — and its ubiquitous use in packaging meant litter was everywhere. And would stay there until it blew away to be somewhere else. Some localities banned the material for restaurants, but it was never a widespread thing. But polystyrene packaging is nowhere as prevalent today as it was thirty years ago. This is a result of consumer pressure.
My point is that I am fully aware that consumers can drive business decisions. Other regulations are not easily replicated by purchaser decisions. And consumer decisions require accurate information. Get rid of SEC filings — something I’m sure would save time and money for corporations (and the SEC) — and there’s no standard set of information upon which I can make investment decisions. No longer require estimated fuel economy using a standardized method (even if the method itself could be improved), and how do you compare vehicles beyond general physics which tells me a giant H2 is going to be more fuel efficient than a little Fiat 500. Eliminate environmental regulations, how do I know a company’s impact on their local environment?
Declaring that businesses should stay in this country because we’re going to severely cut corporate taxes and eliminate 75% of regulations is just a stupid statement. Sure, this guy throws out stupid statements as beginning negotiating positions … but how does a self-proclaimed awesome negotiator not know to start low on some things and high on others. Companies want 100% of regulations eliminated … so our government has just started the negotiation at 75%. They either stand or go up from there.