You could make a pretty good case that the current meltdown of the world economy could have been prevented if American regulators hadn’t been asleep at the wheel. The Fed, the SEC, and the Office of Thrift Supervision come to mind as parties that could have, in different ways, put the brakes on the housing bubble, limited the spread of derivatives, and put the cuffs on outlaws like Bernard Madoff–before all hell broke loose.
The question arises: what other disasters are regulators failing to prevent?
Michael Pollan directs our attention to the fructose scandal:
“We’re subsidizing the least healthy calories in the supermarket — high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated soy oil, and we’re doing very little for farmers trying to grow real food”
Why in the world do we tolerate a public policy that encourages obesity? Human suffering aside, a huge group of people getting overweight and developing all sorts of weight-related heath problems costs us all a lot of money and diverts resources from you name it: education, energy development, innovation. It seems that we should be discouraging obesity.
Why did we allow this to happen? I’m sure the corn lobby had something to do with it. But I’d give equal measure of blame to cult of the market championed by Milton Friedman, Ronald Reagan, and many others. For years Friedman promoted the idea that markets would police themselves–no need for agencies like the Food and Drug Administration. It’s in people’s self-interest to not get fat, I can hear him saying, and if they do that’s their problem.
Well, the problem is, it’s not ALL their problem. And, by the way, have you ever heard of human nature? Does it seem conceivable that people bombarded with slick advertising for cheap Big Gulps from Day One of their lives might start drinking them? Particularly when the consequences develop much later?
Massive health problems in the US. Another victim of conservative economics and the failure of the American regulators.