It is fashionable to argue that all regulation is bad regulation. This is not a view I subscribe to. For one thing, you can’t have free markets without regulation. Riddle me that, Chicago School.
Regulation can create constraints that drive innovation. More importantly (but surely there is nothing more important than money?) regulation can save lives. Health and safety evidently can’t be left to companies like BP… so much for your carefully crafted “green” legacy, eh Lord Browne). Self-regulation meanwhile is too often no regulation at all. Hell, regulation itself is often no regulation at all… the power of corporate lobbying.
The Confined Spaces blog made pretty gruesome reading over the last 2,800 posts. It tracked repeated dereliction of duty by firms that directly led to the deaths of employees.
Health and safety are important to me. Sorry for being such a commie. Imagine thinking lives matter.
Confined spaces argues thusly:
there are still far too many health and safety professionals that don’t understand that to a very great extent, who lives and who dies in the workplace is determined by politics – both power relationships in the workplace, and traditional politics that determines who controls our government. What that means is that organizing unions and electing politicians who will fight against unlimited corporate control over our regulatory agencies, our workplaces and the environment are of vital importance to protecting the health and safety of American workers.
Perhaps unsurprisingly I tend to be concerned about the health and safety of all workers, not just Americans, but that’s a different argument. All in all I am glad to hear that author Jordan Barab is now joining the House Education and Labor Committee. Maybe the democrats will be a little different.
Unions, just like BigCos, are of course subject to conflicts of interest, and they may in many cases be run by idiots, but that doesn’t make unions evil incarnate. Some of our basic human rights require political lobbying to sustain. That’s a role unions can usefully play, and I think they will.
The Youtube song at the end is a classic. Solidarity for ever, a US folk song. How times change.