Letter: Government Regs vs. Marketplace Control

This Letter to the Editor appears in the Oct. 26 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Government Regs vs. Marketplace Control

The transportation industry is awash with mandates, legislation and limits imposed by lawmakers and regulators.

“But don’t we need regulations with the power of force that only government has?” some may ask. Without government as a last defense against private tyranny, it is asserted, we’d be immersed in mayhem and run over by commercial trucks whose operators would see nothing but profits in front of them.

The regulatory state is cumulative, stretching back more than 100 years with rules piled on rules. We now have a dizzying array of regulations, in which legal specialists can get lost in their complexity. “The customer is always right” approach often gets superseded by whether the proper forms have been completed in the correct sequence.

Laws such as Sarbanes-Oxley, the Affordable Care Act or Dodd-Frank, to name a few, also have spun a spider’s web screed of commands over the business community — and have turned honest businesspeople into scofflaws.

The problem with regulations may be semantic. That’s because unregulated markets don’t exist. Actually, there are two kinds of regulation: a “papers, please” culture of regulation by government command and a far more efficient regulatory environment produced by markets and consumers. Note that the former is compulsory and the latter is voluntary.

In markets free of government regulation, it’s the outcome that matters, with all procedures, policies and rules measured against that.

This allows leeway for experimentation and adaptation, feedback and accountability. Business people realize that to succeed they must please the buying public. The combination of reputation and competition creates an unceasing dance of diverse discovery that state-monopolized services cannot.

For example:

• Peer-to-peer apps have made reputation markets real, where Uber drivers have an incentive to make you happy. The ratings you give them can affect their future income.

• Underwriters Laboratories, established by insurance companies, is widely recognized as a symbol of safety and quality.

• Good Housekeeping magazine awards a Seal of Approval that manufacturers can use on their products and in their advertising.

• And with Aldi’s double guarantee, if you are not 100% satisfied with any product, the grocery chain will “gladly replace the product and refund your money.”

Self-regulation includes authorized and limited dealerships, and franchises. Government regulations lead us into enduring so much meddling that we would be better off without them.

Proponents of government regulations often overlook the many ways in which the free market voluntarily polices business — harnessing the power of self-interest without the need for government involvement.

The market process and the power of an enlightened public can provide a superior kind of regulation.

Kent Lalley

Legacy Truck Centers Inc.

Highland Chapter member,

Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association

Somerset, Pennsylvania