One of the long time corner stones of the Republican Party has been trying to rid ourselves of any government regulation. They believe that people and business should be able to regulate themselves. Here’s an example of what that system produces:
The market concentration for health insurance is so monopolized in some areas that insurance companies are willing to raise prices and lose customers in an effort to improve their bottom line, a leading insurance broker told Wall Street analysts on Wednesday.
In a conference call organized by Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research, Steve Lewis, a highly regarded broker at the world's third largest insurance broker, Willis, painted a picture of the health insurance market in which employers seem likely to be priced out of coverage.
Because they have no real rules/regulations to follow, the insurance companies can do this and get away with it. It will lead to more uninsured Americans, who now have to use the emergency room as their doctor’s office, which increases wait times and leaves more Americans picking up the expenses. Yet when we talk about health care reform, the Republicans constantly say “let them regulate themselves”. Well – here is what it gets you.
But the examples don’t stop there. Let’s take another real life example – one that has happened in our neck of the world.
This year we have seen two serious earthquakes rock our hemisphere. The Haiti earthquake has claimed nearly 1/4 million lives. Last weeks earthquake in Chile, which was 500 times more powerful than the one in Haiti, has claimed less than 300 lives.
Wait! How can an earthquake that is about 500 times less in power claim almost 1,000 times more lives? Well the answer is simple.
Haiti is a Republican Mecca – a nation with no pesky regulations. That means no rules for people, like construction workers, to follow. Compare that to Chile, a nation accredited with being one of the toughest on building regulations, and you quickly see how the big GOP enemy of regulation lead to a lot of lives being saved.
The examples don’t just stop there. How about mining deaths? Hearing about countless people dying in mines is common news coming out of China, but we rarely hear it here. Why? Because we have regulations. And the adverse effect of that could be seen in 2006 during the Sago mine collapse, when Bush decided to let one of the regulatees (to make up a new work) play regulator:
In 1997, as a top executive of a Utah mining company, David Lauriski proposed a measure that could allow some operators to let coal-dust levels rise substantially in mines. The plan went nowhere in the government.
Last year, it found enthusiastic backing from one government official - Mr. Lauriski himself. Now head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, he revived the proposal despite objections by union officials and health experts that it could put miners at greater risk of black-lung disease....
Safety and environmental regulations often shift with control of the White House, but the Bush administration's approach to coal mining has been a particularly potent example of the blend of politics and policy.
This hatred of government regulation by the GOP lead to 12 lives being lost.
Regulations are a necessary evil – one that keeps us safe and helps our capitalistic system thrive. If you still don’t buy it, then consider this when you are out at the store this weekend. With no government regulation, that store wouldn’t have things like fire protection systems. Say some unregulated electrical work happened and now sparks a big fire. When they built the store they decided to only make the exits at the very front and the loading dock. Why should they pay for more doors when no one makes them? Now you have a death box, complete with people getting trampled, and you are stuck in the middle of it.
Does it sound far fetched? Tell that to the families of the 165 people who died in the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire in 1977. That’s a fire that happened very close to me, and being a former firefighter and fire inspector, one I studied a lot. Every contributing factor in that horrible tragedy can be attributed to a lack of regulations.
So the next time we hear some Republican or tea bagger whine and complain about “government regulation”, remind them of these facts. These aren’t hypothetical points, but rather real life situations in which we have seen the deadly outcomes. If they still don’t buy it, then ask yourself if this is a person you really consider mentally fit to be a decision maker in our nation.