One of the problems with regulation – and with the seen effects of regulation – is that it prevents ideas/products/businesses/etc. from seeing the light of day. As a result, many ideas/products/etc. never get a chance to be vetted by the public, and more importantly, the public is not in a reasonable position to be able to understand what it is not seeing.
For example, a drug that is deemed unsafe and never comes to market. Many people’s lives might be saved or spared the consequences of bad side effects. But how many people will die without the drug? That’s a question that cannot be answered. And because it cannot be answered the to-be dead people will never know that they might have lived. The regulators, the politicians, the public never have to face the outrage of the dead people because nobody will know that there could have been an alternative.
So it is with all regulation. I write about this quite a bit in Evolve. In fact, it’s the core theme of the novel: how much better would our lives be if we were free to choose? Here, Mark Perry asks the question and provides an example of a rare case where the alternative is known (because the regulators shut down a business that had already opened but was violating a regulation).
You must think about the unseen, the unintended and imagine what could have been to understand the full cost associated with regulation.
PS: Because the Mark P post starts with the semi-famous BO quote about how everybody owes everything that they’ve achieved to everybody else (an absurd and incorrect proposition), I feel compelled to link to Mike Munger’s perfect illustrative refutation, “My Dog Owns My House? I don’t think so…“