This is the next installment in a series where I design, with your help, a small, hypothetical new nation called Ascendia, based on small government, personal liberty, and free markets. Please read parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, and eight if you have not yet before reading this article so that you’re up to speed. Today, I will lay out how Ascendia would handle the issue of business regulation.
When libertarians or the right-wing argue with the left-wing regarding the topic of government regulation of business, libertarians and right-wingers tend to really screw this one up and usually off looking like complete psychos or idiots. As a perfect example of what I’m talking about, a few weeks ago Dave Rubin made a complete ass of himself on the Joe Rogan podcast when he said we need “no regulation.” Rogan came back and correctly said that if you had “no regulation” in the construction industry, you would have all kinds of shoddily constructed buildings, and that he knew this for a fact because of his own background in the construction industry.
This is what happens when libertarians/right-wingers declare loudly that society doesn’t need any regulation; the left swoops in and shows all kinds of examples about how that would be a cluster fuck, and usually, they’re right.
The small government argument against regulation is not that we need no regulation. It’s instead that we need regulation, but the government doesn’t have to be the entity to provide it.
I could give you many examples of this working right now in the real world, but here’s just one of many. Many electronic devices, including power supplies, but also things like safes, have the letters “UL” and a number stamped into them. This means the device is “UL rated,” meeting the highest standards in that category of product. People experienced in these industries refuse to purchase components unless they have a UL rating. It’s a great example of regulation that has worked for over 100 years.
What government agency is UL? None! UL stands for Underwriters Laboratories, a fully private, capitalist, for-profit corporation that has absolutely nothing to do with the government (other than the fact that some government agencies “approve” of its rating).
It’s a prefect example of free market regulation.
Various other examples of capitalist, free market corporations regulating other capitalist, free marketing corporations are IEEE, Good Housekeeping, Consumer Reports, NEMKO, and numerous others. Sometimes these regulatory free-market agencies are non-profit, such as ANSI.
So yes, we need regulation. But the free market can regulate itself to a degree, if you let it. It doesn’t have to be the government overspending billions of dollars of taxpayer money, making thousands of silly rules, and putting guns to everyone’s heads.
Is the free market regulating itself perfect? Hell no! There are all kinds of problems with it! But there are all kinds of problems with big government regulating the free market too. (You know, like governments going multi-trillions of dollars in debt and fucking everything up…)
Ascendia would rather have the problems of free market regulation than the problems of government regulation. Therefore, there would be zero regulation of business at the federal level. Instead, the federal government would encourage industries to come up with their own regulatory corporations and associations. Eventually, and it would take some time, most industries, particularly those that were life or death (like food, construction, etc) would indeed come up with third-party, free-market regulatory solutions.
Let me repeat that it would take time. For a while, yes, things would be a little chaotic in certain industries. A few people could even die. Yes, that could happen at the outset. But here’s the thing: people don’t want to die. In the modern, internet age, word would get around very fast, and regulations would be enacted… but by free people, associations, and entities, not by big government.
Here’s two simple examples to illustrate this.
1. When you went to buy a newly constructed house, how would you know it was built to “code?” You would know, because the builder, if he was smart, would spend the money to get the home certified by a third party to ensure it would not collapse on your head a few years later.
Would there be some builders who would be cheap assholes and not do this? Yes. Some, but not most. That’s their right. You’re allowed to sell anything you want as long as you don’t lie about what you’re selling. That’s part of freedom. (If you lie about what you’re selling, that’s fraud, and now the government can come in and smack you. But if you don’t lie, sell whatever you want.)
Would there be some stupid or cheapass home-buyers who would buy these unsafe homes that were not certified? Yes. Some, but not most. They would buy the shoddily built home and take that risk. That’s their right. You’re allowed to buy any kind of home you want. That’s part of freedom.
2. If there is nothing like the FDA to certify food safety, how do you know that loaf of bread you’re going to buy at the store isn’t going to instantly kill you if you eat it? You would know, because the bread company, if they were smart, would spend the money to get the bread certified by a third party to ensure it was not toxic. They’d place a big label on the package saying “Certified Safe by XYZ Association” or whatever.
Would there be some bread companies who would be cheap assholes and not do this? Yes. Some, but not most. That’s their right. You’re allowed to sell anything you want as long as you don’t lie about what you’re selling. That’s part of freedom.
Would there be some stupid or cheapass people who would buy and eat the unsafe bread without these safety labels? Yes. Some, but not most. They would eat it and take that risk. That’s their right. That’s part of freedom.
“But wait!” you say, “That wouldn’t work because then I’d have to pay these dumbass’s health care if they hurt themselves!” Wrong. In Ascendia, there would be no government heath care, because government heath care doesn’t work. You wouldn’t be forced to pay for anyone’s health care except yours (unless you wanted to).
See how this all ties together? When you have something insane like government health care, you are now forced to make all kinds of other regulations about what other people do. If you don’t have government health care, now you don’t need to spend the money to pass these laws, and people can be as dumb as they want.
As always, Ascendia would allow the Free Cities to impose government regulations on businesses that did business in that city if the voters of that city so wished (assuming such a Free City was a democracy at all, some may not be). That’s perfectly fine, but the federal government wouldn’t do anything in this area.
Under such a system, the economy would boom. We know from real-world examples like Hong Kong and Singapore that low taxes combined with low or near-zero government regulation makes economies great.
So yes, Ascendia would have regulation. Society needs regulation. It’s just that government wouldn’t do it. Government is the last entity you want doing that.