The Flathead Valley’s Leading Independent Journal of Observation, Analysis, & Opinion. © James R. Conner.


18 July 2012

Is the Montana Regulation Project necessary?

Does Montana’s regulatory environment erect gratuitous barriers to entrepreneurship? Conservative bloggers Dave Budge and Gregg Smith think it might, and in response have started the Montana Regulation Project:

As the amount of local, county and state regulation increases, the ability of Montana citizens to exercise their rights under Montana’s Constitution Article II “of pursuing life’s basic necessities” has become increasingly difficult. While we understand the state’s interest in protecting the public through regulation we also understand that the regulatory corpus becomes outdated, ineffective, and presents barriers to entry for people working in their own interest and needs continual review for rationality, cost effectiveness and process efficiency in order to provide for the economically disadvantaged to rightfully earn a living in the economic pursuit of their choosing.

We are convinced that the regulatory burden falls disproportionately hard on individuals who hope to create and trade products and services who are in the initial start-up or early expansion phase of small business enterprises and that certain regulations are in place either from a poor understanding of the risks posed to the public or by regulatory capture of special interest who, under the banner of public interest, gain by limiting the entry of new competition and market participants. Additionally, over time the bureaucratic processes of regulation become equally prohibitive for new and growing market entrants and increase in perpetuity for the convenience of the regulators at the expense of the regulated.

Thus, the goal of The Montana Regulation Project (The Project) is to reduce the regulatory barriers to entry for first stage growth and other small enterprises to the greatest extent possible without damaging the public interest. Excerpted from the project’s mission statement.

At this point, I’m neither embracing nor stiff-arming the project. I do not concur with MRP’s premise that we are over-regulated — government regulation protects consumers and levels the playing field for business. Regulation is an instrumental good, not an intrinsic evil, and an inevitable and necessary consequence of organizing a society. The alternative is anarchy. There certainly can be cases in which regulation is either heavy-handed to no good purpose, or too weak to protect the public, but as a general proposition I think most savvy businessmen can and do prosper in our current regulatory environment.

I’ll evaluate as they arise proposals for repealing, adopting, or modifying regulations.

Visit the project’s website, and let Smith and Budge know what you think.