Friday, July 20 , 2018, 7:49 pm | A Few Clouds 69º


Mark Shields: Nobody’s Running on Deregulation

Amid the failures in the private sector, no 2010 candidate will promote a 'no rules on business' platform

The prevailing consensus in Washington endorsing the deregulating of American business from government supervision had been self-assured: Government was not the solution; government was the problem.

The smart money all agreed that the private sector knew best. Federal rules on business were, almost by definition, obstacles to economic growth and, probably, socialistic schemes dreamed up by some impractical theoretician who obviously “had never met a payroll.”

Mark Shields
Mark Shields

That anti-regulation consensus is now officially dead. No 2010 candidate not under indictment or detox will be running on a platform of “Let’s stop government’s meddling in the affairs of Wall Street and America’s big banks” or “When it comes to the safety of the food we eat, the free market knows better than any federal inspector or bureaucrat.”

It’s not that Americans are suddenly pro red tape. They are not. But they do not want their children exposed to disease or disability from the lead paint on the toys they play with any more than they want contaminated toothpaste or pet food coming into their homes from China.

Nor will sensible Americans accept E-coli in the spinach they are sold or, even worse, salmonella in their peanut butter — because the peanut processing plant went uninspected by the federal government for seven years. Taken together, these failures and threats to the very survival of families destroy the conservative case for deregulation.

February’s tragic crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 to Buffalo, with the loss of 50 lives, revealed that the commuter airlines’ pilots were not just paid less than a receptionist or a bellhop, but that they received much less training than do the pilots at the major airlines. And they were flying with less rest.

Serious questions were raised about those major airlines — greedily pocketing bucks while subcontracting out their major company name and these less-profitable commuter routes — absolving themselves of responsibility for the safety of the passengers on the ticket those passengers have bought not from the commuter, but from the major carrier. Federal oversight was weak and unresponsive. That is unacceptable.

One of the staunchest champions of deregulation had been Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Chris Cox. As Americans painfully discovered that Washington’s deregulation of Wall Street and the banks, along with the untrammeled avarice of many in the financial field, had brought the nation to its economic knees, Cox confessed in congressional testimony on Sept. 25, 2008, he had learned that “voluntary regulation does not work.” He added: “The lessons of the credit crisis all point to the need for strong and effective regulation without major holes or gaps.”

Democratic hands are not all clean in the failure of government to protect citizens from the terminal, even criminal, selfishness of too many in the private sector. The repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which had kept separate commercial banks from investment banks, won strong Democratic backing. A Democratic president, Bill Clinton, signed into law the legislation to specifically exclude exotic financial instruments such as derivatives and credit default swaps from federal regulation under the Commodity Exchange Act.

It was a great Republican president who solemnly stated, “In the United States, we turn our rivers and streams into sewers and dumping grounds, we pollute the air, we destroy forests, and exterminate fishes, birds and mammals.” Those were the uncompromising words of Teddy Roosevelt, who courageously battled, and often bested, those powerful private interests that profited from the ravaging of the environment, the exploitation of workers and the apathy of the federal government.

In 2009, Americans want the air we breathe and the water we drink to be clean, the food we eat and the products we buy to be safe, and the marketplace we enter to be lawful. Deregulation has been tried and found wanting.

Mark Shields is one of the most widely recognized political commentators in the United States. The former Washington Post editorial columnist appears regularly on CNN, on public television and on radio. Click here to contact him.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >