Walter E. Williams

There're no two ways about it: There are benefits from all the costly federal, state, and local regulations imposed on American businesses. But we must also acknowledge that our federal, state and local regulatory agencies have no jurisdiction in India, China, Southeast Asia, Mexico and Latin America. That means for many products and services, people who are far less productive, in a physical sense, than we are can beat us in the global marketplace.

We all can agree that there's no benefit that's worth any cost. If that weren't true, we'd do damn near anything that has a benefit, and that would include mandating a 5-mile-per-hour speed limit. Why? The benefits would be enormous in terms of the tens of thousands of highway fatalities and injuries avoided. We don't have a 5-mile-per-hour speed limit because we've decided that its benefit is not worth the enormous cost.

As said earlier, competition reveals costs and least-cost methods of production. One need not take a position one way or another on the worthiness of the benefits of regulation to acknowledge that there are costs associated with them. But I think that intelligent decision-making requires that we take their costs into account. It's not intelligent to stick our heads in the sand and deceive ourselves by pretending that others are to blame for our lack of competitiveness in some areas.

Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
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