i-bc7c187b37ebf18d2d53fc5d30cb856f-as.jpeg And finally, we come to the final card. Perhaps industry’s strongest card–”we’ll lose money”–is not really denialism, but it is what motivates so much of the bad rhetoric in public policy debates.

And of course, the truth is more nuanced. Proposals for reform create new opportunities, and many businesses have thrived under the very proposals they said would wreak havoc.

“Wall Street…has greeted practically every important market regulation introduced in this century with howls of dismay and predictions of disaster. In 1934, the head of the New York Stock Exchange told Congress that if the Securities Exchange Act, which became the foundation of market regulation in the U.S., was made law there was a chance that stock trading in the U.S. would be “entirely destroyed.” Needless to say, it wasn’t. In 1975, when the S.E.C. abolished fixed commissions, the Street claimed that its business would be demolished. Instead, after transaction costs fell, trading volume shot up. And in 2000, when the S.E.C. required companies to disclose material information to all investors, rather than just to insiders, we were told that this would strangle the flow of information to the market and make stock prices swing wildly. But, as numerous academic studies have found, it has actually done the opposite…” James Surowiecki, Over There, New Yorker Magazine, Feb. 2, 2007.

Comments

  1. #1 Luna_the_cat
    June 8, 2007

    …Don’t forget the fuss the automotive industry has made over how companies would suffer, every single time a new safety standard has been required. And yet, oddly enough, Ford and Chevrolet are still around, making a very nice profit…..

  2. #2 Davis
    June 8, 2007

    Ford and Chevrolet are still around, making a very nice profit…

    Well, they’re both losing boatloads of money these days, but for reasons having nothing at all to do with safety standards.

  3. #3 fahlmanc
    June 8, 2007

    You forget about the argument that the abolishment of slavery would lead to economic ruin. It didn’t, of course.

    It is amazing to think western economies are like eggshells, ready to crack: yet, in Canada at least, that is principle argument advanced by the government, and the press, for doing little to nothing, and over ridiculously drawn out periods, in dealing with reducing green house gasses. Economies are not going to crack, in the short term, no matter what is done about green house gasses. Even in the longer term, it is hard to argue about hugely negatively disrupted economies, even if the face of large-scale global warming. The economies that are most likely to lose, either way, are those that are right now not much developed — the third world economies.

  4. #4 Daddy Dave
    June 9, 2007

    It is amazing to think western economies are like eggshells, ready to crack

    No, but it is possible for them to go into recession, especially if you start introducing massive, punitive taxes.
    but then:

    Even in the longer term, it is hard to argue about hugely negatively disrupted economies, even if the face of large-scale global warming.

    Please try to maintain consistency. at least within the same post.
    eggshells, yet not eggshells…

  5. #5 Ted
    June 12, 2007

    Good lord, but the libertarians — crazy right wing relatives of the Republicans — seem to have descended.

    I have to cackle whenever I hear the stories about libertarians that used to vote for republicans and now going back to libertariansm out of disgust. It must be a long trip traveling that distance from right to ultraright, to and fro repeatedly.

    No, but it is possible for them to go into recession, especially if you start introducing massive, punitive taxes.

    You don’t say? How’s that work? The punitive tax part I mean. Is that like minimum-wage laws drive up unemployment and punishes the poor?

  6. #6 Anonymous
    June 16, 2007

    And of course, the truth is more nuanced.

    Of course the truth is more nuanced. Sometimes companies complain accurately that they’ll lose money because they lose access to special government favoritism and monopoly, but sometimes the argument is accurate and regulations are bad for the economy. And sometimes the “new opportunities” created by proposals for reform are themselves the results of government corruption and favoritism for a few companies that exploit the regulations but add little value. Think of how, e.g., complicated tax laws and loopholes create “new opportunities” for some accounting firms and Wall Street businesses, but aren’t good for the economy as a whole.

    Certainly, though, a company may be completely right that reform will destroy their business, but it still may be the right thing for the economy, because other opportunities will arrive in other businesses. For example, repealing the stupid sugar tariffs will absolutely make certain businesses lose money, but will provide opportunities in other areas. The proper analysis for the government should never be the fate of an individual company, but that of the economy as a whole.

    As you admit, almost all the these arguments are cogent ones that are indeed legitimate in certain circumstances– and should in some cases carry the day. Like any legitimate argument, though, they can be made in situations where they’re aren’t accurate. There is no argument so noble that it can not be abused by scoundrels.

    Is that like minimum-wage laws drive up unemployment and punishes the poor?

    Looks like we have a denialist posting here, of the sort that likes to ignore the consensus of studies in the field, seizing on one here or there that confirms his results.