Self-Regulation FAIL

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


Writing my screed against the AMA’s ridiculous price-setting cabal got me thinking. Is there a single example of a profession that self-regulates in a way that’s good for society as a whole, as opposed to protecting the interests of the members of that profession at the expense of everyone else? Liberals often slam industries when they talk about a desire to “self-regulate.” Why shouldn’t we be skeptical of the same claims from professional associations? Doctors (with their labor theory of value) and lawyers (with their billable hours) are just the most pernicious examples of professions that have structured their compensation in ways that are deeply harmful to the public interest.

Of course, with government regulation, you run the risk of industry capture—professions can and do simply petition the government to enact regulations that only serve the interests of their members—requiring interior designer licenses, for example. But self-regulation has no chance of working for anything other than the professionals’ self-interest. So it seems like government regulation at least gives you the chance of a result that serves the greater good. People and industries do not consistently act against their self-interest. So if an industry or a profession or a person’s self-interest runs contrary to the public good, there’s a case for changing the law and instituting penalties that change that calculus.

THE END...

of our fiscal year is Thursday, June 30, and we have a much larger fundraising gap than we can easily manage with only days left to go.

Right now is no time to come up short: If you value the hard-hitting, democracy-protecting, justice-advancing journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us keep charging as hard as we possibly can with a much-needed and much-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

THE END...

of our fiscal year is Thursday, June 30, and we have a much larger fundraising gap than we can easily manage with only days left to go.

Right now is no time to come up short: If you value the hard-hitting, democracy-protecting, justice-advancing journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us keep charging as hard as we possibly can with a much-needed and much-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate