Know Thy Regulation

On Sept. 30, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, made a fool of himself during a committee hearing regarding Big Tech. “Will you commit to ending Finsta?” he asked Facebook Safety Chief Antigone Davis. Likely suppressing a laugh, Davis attempted to answer his question, but her efforts did not satisfy the senator. “I don’t think that’s an answer to my question,” Blumenthal replied to her.

Davis’s statements were not satisfactory because Blumenthal’s question was uninformed. The slang term “Finsta,” is a portmanteau of “fake” and “insta.” It refers to a type of Instagram account primarily used by young people to only allow a select group of friends to see their posts, which are generally about more private topics. It is not a service offered by Facebook (which owns Instagram), but a phenomenon created by the social media giant’s users.

Blumenthal is not the first geriatric in Congress to make a fool of himself at a hearing about high-tech topics. In 2018, former Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, asked CEO Mark Zuckerberg how he stays in business without charging his users, while Sen. Brian Schatz, a Hawaii Democrat, seemed to believe that users could send an email using WhatsApp.

It is fun to laugh at the gaffes of politicians, but the aforementioned questions about Big Tech are part of a larger issue. Politicians want to regulate things they know nothing about.

It is fun to laugh at the gaffes of politicians, but the aforementioned questions about Big Tech are part of a larger issue. Politicians want to regulate things they know nothing about.

The scope of the problem is not limited to Big Tech. Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are neither doctors nor hospital administrators, but they want to nationalize the American healthcare system. President Joe Biden is no CEO, but, under his tax plan, America would have a higher corporate tax rate than Communist China.

Very few Democrats in power now have started and run a successful business, yet they want to tell business owners how to run theirs, whether it be through vaccine mandates, minimum wages, or environmental regulations.

This is not a “listen to the experts” argument, in which leftists have trampled on the freedoms of the American people during the COVID-19 pandemic and used a genetic fallacy to quash any dissenting voices who would question their authoritarian policies. Any person can criticize any group of people. In this piece, I have been pretty critical of those in our legislative and executive branches, yet I am no lawmaker. This is America, after all, and we do have a right to freedom of speech.

However, when politicians and bureaucrats try to place themselves in the middle of the consensual agreement between employer and employee or producer and consumer, Americans have the right to demand that they know what they are talking about.

When politicians and bureaucrats try to place themselves in the middle of the consensual agreement between employer and employee or producer and consumer, Americans have the right to demand that they know what they are talking about.

The incompetence of government actors is an endless fountain of support for both the morality and the efficacy of the free market. No one person or group of people can possibly master and educate themselves about all aspects of the economy, as thinkers such as F.A. Hayek and Leonard Read have pointed out.

Our market economy works because it relies on the drive and innovation of ordinary people who believe that they can improve a certain area of the lives of others. We put their ideas to the test by leaving it to the consumers, more ordinary people, who decide if the ideas are worth their hard-earned money. If the business idea is good, it will flourish, and if it is bad, it will fail.

The incompetence of government actors is an endless fountain of support for both the morality and the efficacy of the free market.

Government programs, on the other hand, are the only entities in the world that can fail repeatedly and be rewarded with more funding. Politicians will schmooze their way into office, get voted out after one term, and make a living on the speaking engagements and book deals they receive afterward. Entrepreneurs, by contrast, put their money and their reputations on their business ventures, so they have much more of an incentive to ensure the products they market are worthwhile.

To step away and allow the market to run its course is an act of humility, something that contradicts the nature of politicians. Still, bureaucrats must recognize that the regulations they create or enforce come from a much smaller body of wisdom than years of market invention and innovation.

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About Charles Hilu

Editor-in-Chief Charles Hilu is a junior studying political science. Charles is also a student reporter for The College Fix, a daily publication that covers higher education. In addition to his writing, Charles serves as the Chairman of Young Americans for Freedom at the University of Michigan.