Regulations create more jobs than they kill

Next time some government hating Republican or Libertarian starts whining about how regulation kills jobs, tell'em to get their head out of their ass and face reality. The reality is that most regulations create more jobs than they kill. It's part of that thing we call progress.

The new EPA pollution regulations on power plants, announced by the Obama administration last year, are a perfect example.

The rules, which among other things will require coal-fired plants to make deep reductions in mercury and sulphur dioxide emissions by 2015, will cost utilities at least $12 billion, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates. Coal producers put the price tag at $21 billion. They say electricity prices will spike 12 percent, dozens of plants will close, and thousands of workers will lose their jobs.

What gets lost in conversations about regulation is the reality that more times than not, more jobs are created than are lost in the process.

The Institute of Clean Air Companies, a trade association representing businesses that make products to reduce industrial emissions, forecasts the industry will add 300,000 jobs a year through 2017 as a result of the EPA rules.

Throughout human history, progress has always resulted in losses for some people and gains for others. Think of wagon makers after Henry Ford and other pioneers if the auto industry made affordable cars available to the masses, or the impact of electric lighting on candle makers, or the effect of modern refrigeration on ice vendors.

Every advance in technology negatively impacts somebody's livelihood, the challenge to any advanced civilization lies in how we handle it. Do we assist the displaced workers in re-training or entrepreneurial efforts, or do we leave them to fend for themselves. Do we offer an economic safety net to catch those among us who fall on hard times, or do ignore their problems at our own peril.

Republicans, Libertarians, and even some Democrats would have us choose the latter path, even though doing so risks even further damage to families, communities, and our nation as a whole. Destitute people can't afford to buy the best food for their families, or pay the light bill, the mortgage, or the car loan. The result is less demand for goods and services and fewer tax revenues to sustain our infrastructure, schools, and other valuable services we all get from government; whether we realize it or not.

Government regulations do kill jobs, often by the thousands... But that’s not the whole picture. Government employment figures also show that those same regulations usually wind up creating about as many jobs as they kill. “We find there is no net impact,” says Richard Morgenstern, the EPA’s director of policy analysis in the Reagan and Clinton Administrations and now a researcher with Resources for the Future, a nonpartisan energy think tank in Washington. “The job creation and the job destruction roughly cancel each other out.”

If regulation hating individuals were as concerned about job creation as they pretend to be, perhaps they'd consider raising taxes on billionaires and lowering them on working people who spend a far greater percentage of the money they earn than the super rich. The working class are the real job creators. Coddling the wealthiest among us with tax breaks they don't really need? That's a job killing regulation if I ever saw one.