Friday, May 20, 2011

On Regulations

Here's a video from the 70s which is way out of date in terms of the size of the Federal Register, but is right on the money in terms of the growth of regulations. I apologize in advance for the shouting at the beginning. It seems to be the trademark of the fellow who posted the video.

Where I work, our regulations, processes, forms and restrictions have grown substantially over the last 5 years. The result is not, as the regulators might expect, control actually being ceded to the higher authorities who impose these regulations. Instead, there's a widespread cheating on our rules and regulations and general, unspoken lying about what's going on.

Increased regulation requires an increase in regulators to manage them. A regulation is only as good as its enforcement. If you don't increase the regulators, then all that happens is people lie and fudge and wink at the forms and processes and try to do what they were going to do anyway. Greece has discovered this as their black market economy has bloomed in concert with their preposterous regulatory regime.

I would argue that the more regulations you have, the less any one particular regulation is followed. It seems to be true where I work, but I wonder if it's really true across the world. If true, this would asymptotically approach anarchy as more regulations would lessen the power of all other regulations to the point where no one followed any rule at all.

1 comment:

tim eisele said...

The thing is, a lot of the ignoring of regulations isn't even intentional. It is just impossible to be aware of all of the possible regulations that one could fall foul of. And even the regulators are frequently not aware of all the regulations.

Sometimes I think that all regulations should have an expiration date - say, about 20 years. Then, if a regulation is so poorly-thought-out, difficult to follow, and/or widely ignored that nobody can be bothered even to reauthorize it once a generation, it will just quietly go away without having to make any special effort to get rid of it.