Regulation is necessary for survival. The survival of any society, even animal societies, depends on the presence of regulatory arrangements necessary for social control and prosperity.
These arrangements work by imputation, compulsion, and constraint, or in the case of animal societies, by genetic and learned programming. In the case of human societies, these arrangements are both institutional and cultural, by which I mean they are both formally enforced and embedded in customary practices. For example you either comply with the meaning of a handshake, or you pay a social penalty. Assault incurs an institutional sanction. Robert Putnam is mistaken in defining social capital as altruism. Social capital is civic compliance.
The following examples demonstrate that all market value depends on regulation. Although civic regulations are all too open to the influence of market forces, all markets are produced, enabled, and shaped, by regulatory practices. Markets depend completely on compliance. Civic regulation includes all of the activities of legislature, executive and judiciary. Even schools are instruments of regulation, since before anything else they produce compliance.
Personal values, eg. safety and flourishing
Regulation against murder, assault, infanticide, cannibalism. Regulation of foods quality, of drugs of abuse, alcohol, gambling
Regulation of health practitioners, poisons, drugs, explosives. Regulation of OH&S. Regulation of schools and education Regulation of standards and licences for professions and trades
Regulation against theft, trespass, embezzlement, torts
Regulation of title deeds
Regulation of intellectual property
Regulation of railways and roads, airspace
Regulation of commercial and private transport
Regulation of banking and interest rates, regulation of trade and competition, regulation of companies, regulation of contracts
Regulation of radio and television licences
Regulation of internet (gambling sites, snuff and paedophilia sites, etc).
Regulation of national parks, forests, inter-tidal zones, rivers, lakes, seas and reefs.
Regulation of agriculture, mines and energy. Regulation of pollution and waste management
Q. Why do we take it for granted that no-one can buy human body parts from the local butcher for any money?
A. Because it’s regulated. We take for granted compulsion and compliance.
Q. Why do we take for granted the free purchase and use of materials in quantities which will destroy the ecological foundations of prosperity and social order for our children?
A. Because it is not regulated. There’s almost no compulsion, no constraint on doing and handling unsustainable stuff.
Issues for regulators:
1 What are we like at our best?
2 For whom is regulation? Corporations or people?
3 If people, does that mean; people now or people twenty years hence?
4 When are changes to regulations justified? Ecological chaos is beginning. Must we wait for social chaos?
5 What are the pressures right now on policy?
Regulation of Unsustainable Practices
The use of certain materials threatens the stability of the biosphere. That planetary emergency has begun. Future civic prosperity and social order will be possible as now, only by regulation, compulsion, constraint, and compliance. Regulators are responsible to act in emergencies to ensure civic survival and prosperity. Regulators share with us the opportunity to hear the interests of children who beg a share of remnant ecological equilibrium. Therefore if unsustainable practices are to be controlled, we must help regulators to hear the voices of children.
Children’s interests must become more compelling than the voices of corporate financial interests. Only then will regulators control the stuff being handled and used, the stuff that’s begun this planetary emergency we’re in. Unsustainable production and the mad use of stuff is the last form of rampant child abuse still unprevented.
The British Factory Reform Bill of 1832, achieved by a loose and unruly coalition of vastly different and fragmented groups, groups which had different meaning systems but who agreed on one thing, saved future generations of children from enslavement in factories. This unsteady alliance, later called a humanitarian movement, regarded The Factory Act as merely a partial success, since the overriding principle of freedom of contract prevented adults from being helped. We with the benefit of hindsight, see that the benefit to children was immeasurable.
Our task of saving children from this planetary emergency requires similar effort to help regulators to achieve the necessary and reasonable compulsion and compliance without which this lonely planet is unsafe at any price.