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View Diary: How Regulation came to be: Our Lady of the Angels (79 comments)

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  •  Excellent historical perspective (7+ / 0-)

    And a great reminder about the nature of regulation.  However, I'd add that not all regulation (in fact, a good deal of it) is not as benevolent, in terms of results or intention, as the example you've given.  Many times regulation is made to stifle competition of the companies that hire lobbyists or other experts to write the legislation.  So, while we should not blindly accept regulation because of a good track record, we should also be aware of its potential downside and always take it with a bit of skepticism.

    •  good point (8+ / 0-)

      do you have a few specific examples where safety regulations were driven by lobbyists with the intent of stiffling competition?

      •  USDA regulations, for one (7+ / 0-)

        Many USDA regulations limit small farmers or put them out of business entirely.  For instance, according to Michael Pollan, it is illegal to slaughter animals on the land where they are raised and it costs about $1 million to construct a small slaughterhouse that meets the USDA's minimum requirements.

        •  Huh. (9+ / 0-)

          My poultry supplier is looking into creating a portable processing facility.  It would be expensive, but it would save them the hassle of trucking their birds 150 miles to the closest facility that handles small orders.

          So the problem really isn't the regulations, it's the scarcity of processors that want to deal with 50-100 birds at a go.

          Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

          by Fabian on Sun Nov 29, 2009 at 03:27:22 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  most of that has (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sberel, dsteffen, marykk, jlms qkw, rossl

          more to do with health and sanitation than with trying to stiffle competition from small producers.  

          •  that's what tyson says too n't (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sberel, G2geek, rossl

            "Gloom we always have with us . . . but joy requires tending." Barbara Holland

            by jlms qkw on Sun Nov 29, 2009 at 03:37:06 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  In Illinois (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              DaleA, sberel, dsteffen, Dar Nirron, jlms qkw

              we have a number of small operations that package/retail meat.  We buy from one occasionally,  However it is an extra trip and stop at atown in the opposite direction.

              most of these operations make most of their money processing deer, they can't make it on selling pork/beef because they can't compete.  Believe me these are not million dollar operations.

          •  Even if that's 100% true, (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sberel, G2geek, dsteffen, Dar Nirron

            the regulation has had unintended consequences.

            •  I don't know that I would call it... (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ahianne, sberel, allep10, rossl, yaque

              ...an unintended consequence so much as a trade off.  I imagine they knew the regulation would make it unfeasible for a lot of small operations to continue, but deemed the public safety factor to out-weigh the effect on the small operations.

              I'm sure my dad wasn't happy when the regulations the milk processors were under led them to require he either install closed-system milkers and upgrade the milking parlor and storage system, or get out of the dairy business.  I'm sure he felt he could continue to produce milk in a sanitary way, and maybe he could, but having worked with the old system (albeit only as a kid -- he sold out the dairy herd in 1960), there were just so many places where there were opportunities for bacteria and contamination to enter the system that the risk that someone, somewhere would have a breakdown and contaminate the processor's whole production system was just too great a risk for the dairy to take.  Public safety trumped the producer's right to continue to operate in the way he had previously.

              I haven't looked into it specifically, but I'll wager that we could find some stories where people become sick or die because of just that scenario.

              We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both. - Justice Louis D. Brandeis

              by dsteffen on Sun Nov 29, 2009 at 07:51:32 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Guess what? (9+ / 0-)

          For instance, according to Michael Pollan, it is illegal to slaughter animals on the land where they are raised.

          That's just plain bullshit. All my cattle and hogs are slaughtered right on my place. One hundred percent legal and in compliance with all regulations.

          "Lash those traitors and conservatives with the pen of gall and wormwood. Let them feel -- no temporising!" - Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1835

          by Ivan on Sun Nov 29, 2009 at 04:04:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Maybe that's not exactly what the regulation is (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sberel, G2geek, dsteffen

            But in the part of Omnivore's Dilemma where he talks to Joel Salatin, Salatin says that for some reason or another the only meat he can slaughter on his property is chicken, and that's in limited quantities.

            •  Well then, be specific (7+ / 0-)

              You're talking about one guy, in one particular situation, in one state, with one specific set of regulations that might not apply anywhere else. And you're generalizing from that.

              And it's just plain wrong. It's Salatin's bad luck to live in Virginia. Where I live in WA, I can have -- and have had -- all my cattle, hogs, and sheep field butchered right here on my place if I sell whole carcasses direct to the consumer, all regulated by the state. USDA-inspected mobile slaughter units are coming online for farmers or ranchers who want to sell meat by the cut, or to stores or restaurants.

              I can't speak for Pollan. I have little to no need to read anything he writes. But I'm guessing that he is aware of the state-by-state distinction, and that you just drew an incorrect conclusion from what you read.

              "Lash those traitors and conservatives with the pen of gall and wormwood. Let them feel -- no temporising!" - Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1835

              by Ivan on Sun Nov 29, 2009 at 05:02:27 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  It cuts both ways. (7+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DaleA, sberel, G2geek, marina, trashablanca, rossl, yaque

      I've heard Eliot Spitzer lay out a very compelling case that the lack of regulation creates conditions where the established players in an industry are able engage in anti-competitive practices that freeze out start-ups and small firms, creating conditions where only the over-grown dinosaurs survive and stifle any threats from innovative upstart competition.

      Yeah, if you invite the lobbyists and industry reps in to write the regulations for you, you get a bad result.  That's why it's not a good idea to do that.

      We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both. - Justice Louis D. Brandeis

      by dsteffen on Sun Nov 29, 2009 at 03:37:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Absolutely (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sberel, G2geek, dsteffen, trashablanca, yaque

        Unfortunately, many regulations ARE written by those people.  And there are unintended negative (and sometimes positive, too) consequences of honest regulations.

      •  direct vs. indirect: (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sberel, dsteffen, rossl, yaque

        If we want an outcome, we should have the guts and principle to go for that outcome directly, not indirectly via other means.

        The way to deal with predatory competition scenarios is with progressive taxation and legally-mandated limits on the size and market share of companies.  And at the same time, government financial aid should be made available to smaller companies to keep them up to date with safety & health requirements.  

        In other words, social democracy.  

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