The folly of regulation

BBC News – Why you might want to look a bit closer at what you’re eating: “An extreme example was seen in China in 2008 when melamine was added to milk formula in an apparent effort to cheat checks on its protein levels – six babies died.” Although this is put forward as one, this is in fact not an argument for more regulation, but for less regulation. By their own admission, the only reason melamine (a toxic chemical compound) was added was to avoid punishment by government, therefore the existence of the protein level checks is what lead to those tragic deaths. Without the checks, why on earth would baby milk manufacturers add a potentially deadly chemical compound to the very thing they’re hoping parents will buy from them? Killing your customers’ children is not good for business. The arbitrary threat of punishment incentivised baby milk manufacturers to do something self-destructive and consequently destructive to others. Regulations incentivise courses of action that will best avoid punishment for non-compliance with those regulations.

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