Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Failure of Regulation?

One way of looking at the present financial crisis is that Uncle Sugar failed to regulate the world of finance. That can mean that the present regulations were poorly administered or that proper regulations were never put in place. The fact that this accusation is made mostly by Democrats as part of the never-ending-story entitled "It's Bush's Fault" should not prejudice citizens one way or another as to its validity.

But maybe this will. Inside Higher Ed reports today that even though the recently passed reauthorization of the Higher Ed Act requires all American colleges and universities to have emergency response plans, a pending piece of new legislation, the School Safety Enhancements Act, will require the very same thing.

Why would the greatest minds in our country unnecessarily duplicate laws, thereby obscuring the very standards they seek to enforce? Well, cynics might say it's because they care more about the political impact of their having sponsored legislation to "keep our students safe" than actual outcomes of safety. In the upcoming election the pol will advertise, "I sponsored a bill to keep our students safe from terrorists and crazed shooters," and "my opponent refused to support a bill to keep our students safe," never mind that the law was already on the books.

But not being a cynic, we are loath to make such accusations.

We will, however, note that our Republic's institutions of higher education have responded with one voice in seeing such legislation as unnecessary government meddling that creates a burden of bureaucratic reporting with little real effect. These born-again libertarians are ready to dress up as Native Americans and throw the tea of higher ed regulation into Boston Harbor.

Of course, a significant number of them are currently decrying the present administration's failure to regulate finance adequately. Geese and ganders require different sauces, perhaps because financiers are not to be trusted while professors are.

And that is to say nothing about other regulatory issues, like greenhouse gases and vehicle fuel mileage and product safety and job safety and all that, all of which has massive support in the higher ed community. There's really just one area where the majority of university folk don't want government interference.

1 comment:

JB in CA said...

Sometimes cynicism is the appropriate response.