The short sightedness of ‘hands-off’ government

Posted on March 30, 2019 by Sonoma Valley Sun

There are those who believe there should be no government regulations imposed on business because in their view it’s none of their business. They see government as the enemy even when, like most Republicans in government, they are part and parcel of that very system. This could be called incongruous, hypocritical, or just plain stupid.

As pointed out to Sonoma City Councilman David Cook by fellow Councilman Logan Harvey, government regulations assure that the foods produced and sold in this country are safe to eat and that air travel and other forms of transportation are relatively safe.

In addition to these sensible and life-saving safeguards I’d add environmental protections from pollution, degradation, and destruction; government regulations overseeing the manufacture of prescription drugs; government regulations overseeing banks and insurance businesses from predatory practices and the myriad controls and restrictions that government places on businesses across the board to protect consumers (all of us) from practices that cheat, harm, or endanger us. Given the human proclivity to engage in these and other such activities for the sole purpose of personal gain and greed, does this not make sense?

Do we need to be reminded of the tobacco industry’s knowingly murderous practices over decades, or the wholesale pollution and health destruction of the air we breathe and water we drink by numerous industries that is still going on, or the bank frauds and Wall Street crimes that nearly tanked our national economy? These are just a few examples of how markets, if left to their own devices, can and will behave.

So to hold to the ridiculous supposition that government – local, national or global – should not interfere with business practices because it’s not their job or responsibility is utterly senseless, short-sighted, and ultimately dangerous.

Government is comprised of us, ordinary people, as are all forms of commerce, and all these human endeavors will only act responsibly and ethically as those that comprise them. This should not be hard to comprehend. Yet there are considerable numbers of us in this town and in this country, most exemplified by the current President, who don’t get it.

This does not bode well for the future of humanity. Global climate change has brought us (we humans) to the brink of the most profound impacts on our environment, geologically, biologically, and socio-politically. We will either have to adapt to a new form and source of harvesting energy and a different way of living on Earth in many respects, and most importantly a different way of seeing our place in Nature, or we will perish like other species before us. The difference was these prior massive extinctions were brought about by natural occurrences whereas our current and overriding dilemma is by our own hand.

Time is fast running out and talk of tasting rooms, tourism, and one-crop dependency is arranging deck chairs on a sinking ship. So it goes?

— Will Shonbrun, Boyes Springs


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