Death by Regulation

economics, regulation

Total bliss is just one more regulation away.

Anyone who has read the Black Book of Communism knows that government kills. Death by government even has a name: democide. The staggering death toll of government in the 20th century has been estimated over 150 million people, not including wars. That means the number only includes people killed by “their” government.

Sadly, these studies ignore what Henry Hazlitt called the forgotten man. The forgotten man is not murdered in the night by government agents or starved to death by a dictator. No, he is murdered by bureaucrats who do not know or ever see him. He is killed with regulation.

For example, when the government mandates that cars have good gas mileage, car companies have to make them lighter. Lighter cars give less protection in the event of a collision, leading to more deaths each year. These unintended consequences are not limited to cars, but apply to all consumer products.

Another sad example is when the FDA outlaws potentially life saving medication. Doctors and patients are in the best position to decide if the risks surrounding a certain medication are outweighed by the potential benefits. Yet, the government makes a blanket decision for everyone. A patient might have only a few weeks left to live, and be more than happy to risk those weeks of suffering for even a small chance of recovering and leading a full life. The government takes that choice away.

How many lives could be saved by abolishing regulations? It is difficult to tell. However, these lives, like the lives lost to more overt acts of democide and war, could have been saved by the free market.
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