April 6, 2015 by Liberty
I was listening to an economist giving a lecture about a study he did. As with most economic studies, his data showed that a certain government regulation did absolutely nothing to solve the problem it was intended to solve. After realizing that, I was slightly disappointed. Sure, I love confirming my biases with more evidence as much as the next guy but sometimes I’m in the mood for some challenge.
This economist stated all the usual problems with regulation. Annoyingly, he spoke them like they weren’t something any basic economics student could come up with within two minutes of hearing his data. Naturally, considering the mainstream source I was watching, he used words like “surprising” to describe the results. Of course, it’s only really surprising to someone that has absolutely no economics education. I should have taken that warning sign and got a little suspicious but I foolishly listened casually like it was nothing important.
I nodded my head along with all the economists completely unsurprising results until he gets to answering some questions. I don’t remember what the question was that prompted him to go into this but it certainly wasn’t begging this answer. Somewhere in his answer he said something like, “I’m not saying all regulations don’t work. We need regulation in education or environmental protection. In this field, they seem unproductive.”
The answer was one word away from being a reasonable statement in my head. He said “We need” when I’m betting the statement “we may need” would be more accurate. Here we have a trained economist that’s spent his last 5 years studying a single field of regulations. This is a young guy too. I find it hard to believe he spend 5 years studying education regulation and environmental protection regulation but somehow he speaks the need for those regulations with more confidence than the lack of need in the field he spent 5 years involved in.
(To clarify: He said “seems unproductive,” about his studied field. He said, “We need,” about the fields he (probably) knew little about.)
This is actually a pretty common problem among economists. I guarantee you there is an education economist out there saying, “While we need regulation in this other area I’ve never studied, regulation doesn’t appear to work in education.” I hear similar statements all the time. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised considering the tenure system but that’s an annoyingly long conversation into a completely different subject.
This kind of ignorance is something that you’re forced to suffer through all the time in the mainstream media and just about every source that you find. The libertarian perspective is virtually always dismissed without evidence. That is, at least at a certain point. While you may see the occasional mainstream source saying this regulation is bad, they’ll usually just be arguing this other regulation is better. This is all to be expected.
The Stacked Deck Of Statism
This bias exists because of the very things libertarians think about. It’s all about self ownership and incentives. A mainstream media source lives or dies on the government for a whole list of reasons.
One of the obvious areas of this is regulation of the airwaves. The media isn’t allowed to air what it wants. It’s required to air some things and not other things. As you can probably tell, those regulations are subjective to the regulators. That means, if any station does anything the regulators don’t want (yes, anything,) those regulators can comb through their data and find something unrelated to prosecute them for.
One of the less obvious areas is the access to government. Government is 90% of the news people care about. The government provides data, quotes, and interviews that are essential to credibility. Any news that actually asks a politician a difficult question without prior warning of it can easily lose access to future government information.
That being said, government control isn’t even close to the only issue.
It’s profitable to support government.
Government regulation destroys competition. The more regulated a field is, the less competition can come into the arena. That means it’s easier to hold a larger percentage of the market longer. That’s huge amounts of money in most fields. The biggest advertisers in the world support government because government supports them. Government kicks out competition, excludes the big companies from regulations, and help protect the companies when something goes wrong (bailouts.)
Anti-government is not profitable. Of course, the first reason is likely that government doesn’t like it very much. That’s hard to measure though. It’s easier to measure this. The free market kills profits. It’s a constant battle for the best product at the lowest price. If you can produce something cheaper then you can charge less than your competition and get their market. Of course, scale comes into play and big companies end up way to slow to compete with little companies. Profits are unbelievably hard to maintain without government.
There is at least one more reason liberty is never brought up.
It’s not simple. The statist narrative is simple. Regulation leads to solved problem. It’s not true but it’s simple. It can make sense if you don’t understand economics. The idea that regulation leads to changed behavior that can be better or worse for everyone is complicated. Good luck fitting all that data into a thirty second news story.
So, in a world that pretends to not even speak your language, what are you to do?
Shut It Off.
I’m not saying to stop listening to non-enlightened sources completely. Sure, it would probably be good to shut off the mainstream media. Really, they’ve just spouted the government narrative for the last couple decades. It’s a joke compared to some of the stories they used to pursue. When you’re really feeling stressed about the evidence free crap that you’re surrounded by, shut it off.
The truth is, when you’re stressed about people saying stupid things, you’re probably not in a rational position anymore either. Sure, you may have been rational but after hearing an idiot speak for a while, you’ll probably catch something. The truth is not a quick emotional retort. It’s a slow and meaningful process. If you’re angry then you’re probably not in a good position to listen to this stuff rationally. Even if they said a fact after that, you may be too irked to hear and learn from it.
I believe it’s essential to listen to dissenting opinions. That being said, make sure the dissenting opinions are using the same methodology as you. If you use evidence and logic to make decisions (I hope you do. Or at least try,) then it’s pointless to listen to people using emotional pleas.
Honestly though, most of this discussion is pointless. Time is the only thing that can plod through all the required changes to make this world a better place. Read a book or something when it gets stressful. Learn something new. Don’t feel the need to constantly expose yourself to people that are willing to point guns at you for stupid reasons. It’s a waste of your life. You’re worth more than that.
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