Yesterday, President the Donald signed an executive order mandating that for every new regulation put in place two regulations must be revoked. Yeah, I shit you not.
Regulation is neither an inherent negative nor an inherent positive. Like so many other things, it’s all about how you use it (yes, random Republican who will never admit to his friends that he reads me everyday, like a gun—we’ll get into that another time). The devil’s in the details. Yes, regulation can stifle industry, but it also protects consumers, workers, and the environment, and it establishes a framework for conducting business fairly. It’s a balancing act, to be sure.
“But Scott Colby!” you say. “Won’t the free market regulate itself? Can’t workers who aren’t treated well just go work somewhere else? Can’t consumers wronged by a business just take their money elsewhere?” In theory, sure! In reality…well, how’s any of that work in a poor town where there’s only one factory, or where Wal-Mart’s crushed all the surrounding businesses? People need jobs and they need stuff. The wealth gap and the concentration of economic power into giant conglomerates has destroyed any ability the market might have had to regulate itself. Personally, I believe evidence suggests the infamous Invisible Hand economists like to talk about is attached to a raving drunkard tumbling wildly down a flight of stairs. He’s farting a lot too.
One of my biggest issues with President the Donald and large swathes of the Republican platform is the way they take complicated problems and boil them down to meaningless little piles of nothing. Immigration, terrorism, foreign relations, the economy, and security are all extremely complex concepts. You don’t stop illegal immigration just by building a wall. You don’t stop terrorism just by telling the citizens of seven countries they can’t come in. You don’t build a strong economy just by stripping away rules that inhibit business. Every move you make comes with an amazing list of corresponding consequences that don’t seem to be getting the consideration they should. Nothing happens in a vacuum.
President the Donald billed this executive order as a means of helping small business. Bullshit burger on a bullshit bun with a side of bullshit fries on a bullshit plate. Who stands to benefit more from a general reduction of regulation? The mom and pop that might be able to hire an extra employee, or all of the Donald’s billionaire pals who now have even more capital with which to take over the economy? If you want to ease restrictions on small businesses, ease restrictions specifically on small businesses. Put your money where your mouth is and prove there’s no conflict of interest or ulterior motive.
I could absolutely get behind that. Hell, helping small businesses is a core tenet of my own still-theoretical campaign platform. I’d argue that the rules for the family bakery up the street or the guy writing software in his garage absolutely should be a lot looser than those for huge conglomerates. Are you a multi-bazillion dollar corporation that refuses to pay its workers a living wage and wants to dump all its garbage in the river? Bite me. Are you a mom and pop trying to make it work in an area where the economy’s not so great? Let’s party! These are two wildly different games and they should be treated as such. You aren’t actually helping small business if you aren’t helping them gain ground on their larger competition in some way.
Why is it two regulations that have to be revoked rather than three or four or five? And what’s to keep me from writing one giant run-on sentence regulation that encompasses all sorts of stuff? Is there a limit to the number of conjunctions I can use? How do we feel about semicolons, or parenthetical statements nested to the nth degree?
And…*gasp* what happens when there’s only one regulation left? Oh no! We’ll never able to implement any new rules! Will we have to ask Sean Spicer (the closest thing the administration has to a hobbit) to put together a fellowship and drop the One Regulation to Control Them All into the volcanic caldera of Mt. Doom? (Yes, in this joke the volcanic caldera of Mt. Doom is Kellyanne Conway’s mouth.)(Oh man I’m gonna be laughing at that one for days.)
Reducing the complexity of our government is a noble goal, but it’s something we need to be smart about. This is just another silly play to the base and another box to check off on the to-do list on the Donald’s fridge. Steve Bananas is going to give him another sticker! There are better ways to help small businesses compete…you know, like actually helping small businesses compete.
Shit like this is why we need a wanking emoji. Who do I talk to about that?
While we’re here, we also have to talk about Sally Yates, former acting Attorney General. News broke yesterday that she’d ordered the justice department not to defend the executive order temporarily banning immigration from seven countries. Hours later, she was fired. The press release explaining why is horrific. You need to read that.
The United States government is not a monarchy; it’s a conversation, essentially, in which a series of checks and balances at least tries to make sure one voice doesn’t drown out the others. The role of the Attorney General is to follow the law, not the orders of the President.
So he fires people who do their job correctly if it means they’re not completely loyal to him. He’s been spewing nationalist rhetoric for a year and a half. He constantly demonizes immigrants and goes on and on about law and order. He’s suggested the press needs to be muzzled.
This is basically the first page in the binder they hand out at New Dictator Orientation.
Maybe that wanking emoji isn’t quite enough.