MORE often than not, the meaning and implications of the word “Deregulation” bring to mind not only a good amount of happy thoughts but also uncertain feelings among the general public. It ushers in not merely the joyful expectation of freedom from law but also the horrible feelings of exploitation from avaricious and voracious individuals and companies. Reason: The idea of “Regulation” sounds offensive to human rights and dignity. On the other hand, the thought of “Deregulation” makes the heart beat faster while the mind becomes fanciful. In other words, especially during these times when the laws of the land are only applicable to the poor while the rich are above the rules of social norms—the absence of regulatory provisions appears not only welcome but also very inspiring.
Specifically in the Philippines, a concrete example comes to mind: The reality of the regulation of salaries on one hand, and the deregulation of fuel on the other hand. The common people perfectly know and feel the contradiction in this practice of rather long observance in the country. While the government carefully and even grudgingly counts every peso added to the salaries of workers and employees in the private sector, it however plays practically deaf, blind and dumb when the different fuel corporations decidedly and repeatedly raise their respective selling prices—lowering these a little now and then in order to confuse their buyers, not really to lessen their financial burden.
Question: In the world of trade and industry, which is better—to protect the consumers from exploitation or to promote the interest of business. viz., regulation or deregulation? This compound and complex issue has no one definite and defined answer. There are however the marked empirical data in certain otherwise prosperous countries that faced bankruptcy specifically on account of deregulation unlimited. And the main reasons for this experience can be counted among the following:
The betrayal of the basic rationale of governments which is to protect and promote the welfare of their respective people—rather than to affirm and advance the interest of private business corporation in terms of more and more profits. The corruption of public regulators who as manipulators are more interested in enriching themselves—instead of faithfully attending to their regulatory tasks. The greed especially of multinational business corporations in their fervent and continuous pursuit of more and more profits—without consideration of the good precisely of their own clients.
The question really is not simply regulation or deregulation—but which to regulate, why and how!
5 August 2011