Governmental Regulation: The Pros and Cons

Governmental regulation in a modern post-industrial environment is an inevitable fact of everyday life that occurs on a variety of different levels, from the municipal all the way to the international. There are both positive and negative aspects of this reality depending upon which side of the political spectrum a person’s ideology leans toward. The plurality of regulatory systems creates a web of both formal and informal measures that can influence the popular opinion regarding how governments should regulate.

There is a widening gap between those that believe the best option is to de-regulate relations against the faction that believes more stringent governmental regulation would create optimal conditions in terms of the political, economic, and social realms of governmental policy. Neoliberalism’s rise during the global economic boom of the 1990’s and early 2000’s enabled a conservative political agenda through the vehicles of the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, as well as through international trade agreements such as NAFTA.

On the other side of the argument, leftist political ideology confronted the diminishing standards of living and environmental conditions in developing regions that were exploited due to the uninterrupted spread of globalization. The current global economic crisis has been perpetuated in part by the dichotomy between political ideologies at the cost of coming to any sort of compromise.

The conservative movement, founded on the belief that a smaller and less interfering form of government will allow individuals and businesses to set the standards of both personal and socioeconomic exchange in the most efficient manner have run into barriers trying to convince the left-wing about the success of this foundation, considering the bursting credit and housing bubbles that grew from limited governmental economic oversight.

There is an ongoing debate currently taking place in Washington surrounding the role of the government when it comes to bailing out the failed businesses that for decades reaped the economic benefit of relatively uninterrupted capitalism. As President Obama, the Federal Reserve, and the Treasury Department have come to the aid of the credit, housing, and automotive industries, conservatives are arguing that the government is overstepping it bounds and creating an atmosphere that will give rise to an over-powerful central government at the cost of individual privacy and liberty.

This is an interesting position to take considering the previous Bush administration’s passing of the Patriot Act and the record national deficit they accrued during the previous eight years. In a time of war, the government is in the unique position to change the ways that countries, cities, and individuals can interact.

The rise of the technological communications and the internet has opened up new forums for international exchange that were previously unimaginable. In this context, the government can act as a conduit or as a barrier to this form of communication, as witnessed by the Chinese example on the one hand and the America example on the other. Of course, there is no way to generally say that governmental regulation is either good or bad.

In certain situations governmental regulation is a necessary fact of life, such as in health epidemics, natural disasters, times of war, and economic crisis, or even on the local scale in terms of water rights, environmental policy, and education. That being said, there have been times when governmental intervention has caused public outcry as in the examples of the Patriot Act, secret prisons, and the economic bailout action currently being enacted.