The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States decrees that one role of government is to insure domestic tranquility. That stated purpose demands a well-regulated society. For it is only in a well-regulated society that we can secure a state of domestic tranquility.
Libertarian and Tea-Publicans stress absolute freedom or the ability to act without government intervention. But when you look closer at what they are demanding it seems more like anarchy. If everyone is totally free to carry on as they choose there can be no domestic tranquility, no civil order, no peace or security for any of our citizens.
Deregulation of commerce is tantamount to giving the zoo keys to the predators. Corporations would be free to pillage plunder, loot, and pollute. The face of deregulation can be best seen in West, Texas, where an explosion in a fertilizer factory took the lives of fifteen people and destroyed fifty homes. Regulations are necessary to insure public safety, worker safety, environmental protection, and a host of other protections required by a well-regulated society.
Because of inadequate regulation in West, Texas, people died needlessly. There will be an increase in human suffering and misery beyond all accounting. Under deregulation the rich get richer and more unrestrained while the rest of us are forced to suffer the consequence.
Over regulation can stifle business enterprises, personal freedoms and initiative. But under regulation can cause endless human misery. The question is not whether to regulate or not. The question is how to achieve an optimal level of regulations that will provide security for all without stifling personal initiative.
There have been three economic collapses in the U.S. in the past few decades, each costing trillions of dollars to the 99% while increasing the wealth of the financial elite. The first was the collapse of the savings and loan industry under President Reagan. This was due directly to the Reagan doctrine of deregulation. The second was the collapse of the financial markets in 2001 caused by the virtual abandonment of financial regulatory efforts by the Security and Exchange Commission. The third was the collapse of the mortgage industry in 2008 caused by deregulation of the mortgage industry. Many in Wall Street made hundreds of millions from shady deals and outrageous greed while trillions of dollars of our wealth were destroyed.
We need a semblance of order. We need a level playing field where the rights of all are treated with dignity and respect. Does anyone really want to see a society where tobacco companies could pass out free cigarettes to school children, or where grocery stores are allowed to sell tainted food? Does anyone want to return to the “snake oil” medicines of the frontier days? Does anyone want to live in a nation where consumer fraud is rampant, or where unsafe products abound? Does anyone want to live in filthy air caused by unregulated emissions or to drink water full of carcinogens discharged from chemical plants?
True freedom is not the ability to act without restraint. Rather, true freedom is protection from the potential damage caused by other people acting without restraint. I would not want my neighbors to drive drunk or stoned, to operate an auto salvage operation in their driveway, or to hold wild, noisy, out-of-control parties in the wee hours of the morning.
True freedom is the ability to live in a well-regulated society where there is safety, security, justice and domestic tranquility for all.