Why Businesses Love Complex Regulations

Kevin Drum, writing in Mother Jones, makes one of those points that seems obvious in retrospect.

Businesses, he says, when they are unable to defeat regulations (like the “Volcker Rule” embedded in Dodd-Frank) work relentlessly to render them ineffective through the complexity of copious exemptions and loopholes. (The Dodd-Frank pre-amble alone is 215 pages, with 381 footnotes).

But businesses don’t like simple rules, because simple rules are hard to evade. So they lobby endlessly for exemptions both big and small. This is why we end up with tax subsidies for bow-and-arrow makers. It’s why we end up with environmental rules that treat a hundred different industries a hundred different ways. It’s why financial regulators don’t enact simple leverage rules or place firm asset caps on firm size. Those would be hard to get around and might genuinely eat into bank profits. Complex rules, conversely, are the meat and drink of $500-per-hour lawyers and whiz kid engineers. If the rules are complicated enough, smart lawyers can always find ways around them. And American corporations employ lots of smart lawyers.

Keep this firmly in mind the next time you hear someone from the Chamber of Commerce complaining about how many thousands of pages of regulations they have to comply with.

Read full article: “Corporations Hate Regulation, Until They Love It

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