Regulation is the bugaboo of today’s politics. We have too much of it in most areas, we have too little of it in others, but mostly, we just have the wrong kind, a mountain of paper rules, inefficient processes, and little ability to adjust the rules or the processes when we discover the inevitable unintended results.
Consider, for a moment, regulation in a broader context. Your car’s electronics regulate the fuel-air mix in the engine to find an optimal balance of fuel efficiency and minimal emissions. An airplane’s autopilot regulates the countless factors required to keep that plane aloft and heading in the right direction. Credit card companies monitor and regulate charges to detect fraud and keep you under your credit limit. Doctors regulate the dosage of the medicine they give us, sometimes loosely, sometimes with exquisite care, as with the chemotherapy required to kill cancer cells while keeping normal cells alive, or with the anesthesia that keeps us unconscious during surgery while keeping vital processes going. ISPs and corporate mail systems regulate the mail that reaches us, filtering out spam and malware to the best of their ability. Search engines regulate the results and advertisements they serve up to us, doing their best to give us more of what we want to see.
What do all these forms of regulation have in common?