AKRON—Everybody squawks about regulations. If you're employed by or trying to run a business in the rubber industry, there are endless environmental, health and safety rules that require compliance. Get caught not living up to the law, fines are possible. And the paperwork—don't even go there.
Why are such rules even needed, and why do they have to be so onerous? Why not have a world with few government regulations? Let business self-regulate, at least as much as possible.
That's the way it was in this country a century or so ago, when industrial moguls ruled with monopoly authority. They accumulated vast personal wealth and power, and typically used it for their own, not the public, good. Such monopolies stifle innovation—indeed, Benjamin Franklin Goodrich, the father of the tire industry in Akron, came to the city because he couldn't get traction against the East Coast tire barons.
It was a time of child labor, of “green men” tire workers poisoned by chemicals that changed their skin color, an era of a laissez faire attitude about the health and safety of employees. The robber barons viewed their workers as commodities, easily replaced.
Today in the U.S., those days are long gone. Government interference, in the form of regulatory action, had much to do with the change.
Excessive regulation is counterproductive, and can hurt businesses and cost jobs. Insufficient regulation, though, means we're turning back the clock to a time of unbridled greed and abuse.
Like much in life, moderation, rather than extremes, is the best course.
Unfortunately, the creation or elimination of regulations is hamstrung by the political “take no prisoners” environment. A reasonable solution to cure a situation that may—or may not—require rulemaking too often is absent.
A return to the American tradition of compromise is needed in the making or ending of regulations. Unfortunately, it remains as elusive as civil political dialogue.