Tim Wood

So what about governmental regulations?


By Tim Wood

Over the years, I’ve thought a lot about the pros and cons of established and establishing regulations within our American society. As the world becomes ever more crowded and complicated, our rules and regulations grow and become more complicated as well. 

Generally, rules and regulations are a human necessity in order to have, run and keep a civil society; I’m pretty sure we can all agree on that. Unless some folks actually desire anarchy, survival of the  fittest, natural selection, or every man for himself. 

I’ll admit there are times when I myself reflect longingly with the notion of “survival of the fittest” but that’s only because I know that the Donald J.s of the world wouldn’t be around long, causing so much trouble. But certainly not wanting that kind of life after watching an episode of “The Last of Us.”

I sometimes feel a little guilty because I actually like sensible rules and regulations. They help make living safe and comfortable. It’s the balance of rules and regulations that’s hard to figure out, right? 

Regulations were created to help make us safe, protect our civil rights, and to limit corruption within our republic. Not surprisingly, it is our want-to-be autocrats, greedy plutocrats, and self-interested capitalists pursuing their own well-being and disregarding sociopolitical pressure that are the usual suspects leading deregulation campaigns. 

Why? Because rules and regulations cost time and money, and corporations like Norfolk Southern Railroad would rather hire lobbyists and operatives promoting deregulation than hire and train more blue-collar workers, or investing in newer, safety technologies.

Yes, it will be of great interest learning what actually comes to light as the investigations into the Norfolk Southern Railroad derailment in Palestine, Ohio proceed: Just the facts please, no rhetoric. 

If people have any sense, the old proverb still holds true: Follow the money, as always. This path usually leads you to the underlying problems in our world today, … power, greed, corruption – the brotherhood of money’s seduction.

I am not a person that enjoys the frivolous evolution of regulated laws. Thousands of rules and regulations have been established through the FDA since 1906. Sometime in the 80s, audio warnings for prescription drugs were established for TV and radio. This was a no-brainer; it was a necessary protection for the consumer, although changes in presentation today make no sense to me. 

One can listen to horrendous side effects with the advertised drug (sometimes taking longer than the actual enticement), or you listen to the fast talkers that run through the side effects at 800 mph without understanding more than four words. This latter technique is, of course, to save the big pharma company money on their expensive advertising time while satisfying the law. But how does that help me, the consumer? So yes, the evolution of that regulation has made that particular regulation impotent, so I think it’s silly and a waste of time, though it does provide jobs for a handful of professional fast talkers.

So, like any modern government, regulations must be studied and amended according to the evolution of our societies, constantly changing to help make safe the new discoveries along with their new dangers. Think about freight trains today and how they compare to steam locomotives from the 1800s. Think about the dependence we now have on extremely dangerous chemicals such as vinyl chloride needed to make PVC piping, all servicing the U.S. with a population of about 333 million people. Take a minute and Google a time lapse of air traffic around the world at any given time. Could anyone possibly say we need to deregulate the airline industry? One average cruise ship generates about 15 gallons of toxic chemicals each day and 7,000 gallons of oily bilge water are released into the oceans every time the ship empties its bilge tanks, (and that’s often, ask any boat owner). So are you thinking that we need less regulation for ship cruise companies?

But think most about the politicians that advocate deregulation and want to neuter oversight institutions like the EPA, FDA or the Federal Trade Commission. Are those politicians serving you? Do they have your back? I don’t think so, and I refuse to advance their agendas with my support and vote. 

I actually want more regulations that help with the control of, say, the advent of electric bikes and scooters, disassembling abandoned oil rigs in the Gulf, eliminating graft in campaign financing, making media outlets and social media giants accountable for spreading lies and “alternative (Kellyanne Conway) facts” that actually hurt our society. Making railways safe enough to where we never have another derailment that may be much, much worse than what Palestine, Ohio had to experience. 

This stuff is here and now, we can only anticipate what’s in our future, but I can assure you of one fact: Life will not become less complicated. But it will become less safe without proper and sensible rules and regulations, whether they come from our state governments or our federal government.

Tim and Kristy Wood moved to Beaufort in 1974. He worked as a carpenter in both restoration and new home construction, as well as operating a shop specializing in custom woodwork, Wood on Wood Specs. He is semi-retired, involved with fine woodworking and formerly sat on the City of Beaufort Zoning Board of Appeals.

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