Applying what are styled “regulations” – i.e., the government interfering with the free exchange of goods and services – is bad enough. Is weird enough. You have something to sell and someone wishes to buy it. But someone else – from the government – says you may not sell it unless he (more likely, she) says you may.
The presumption, of course, is that if buying and selling occurred without regulating then sellers would harm buyers, a dismal view of human interaction and also an empty-headed one in that it presumes regulators are immune from the foibles and failings attributed to those whom they “regulate.” It also fails to incorporate a critical fact about regulation as juxtaposed with free exchange: The element of force. It is absent from free exchange. You are free to buy what a seller offers. Or not. But force is the fundamental underlying tenet of “regulation.” If you do not submit to being “regulated” – even if you have harmed none – you are subject to harm.
A weird thing, indeed.
But it can get weirder.
How about regulation after-the-fact?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) – which is a regulatory apparat and not an “administration” – is “considering” just that. By requiring hybrid cars (and electric cars) made before 2018 to be retrofitted with the back-up noise-makers hybrids and EVs made beginning with the 2018 models and thereafter have been required to have, to alert pedestrians to the fact that the otherwise silent-running car is moving – so as to prevent those who aren’t looking from being run over.
It is also one the manufacturers of silent-running hybrids and EVs would likely have addressed on their own, for their own sound reasons – the chief one being their desire to sell vehicles people aren’t afraid to buy. This gets into another fallacy of “regulation,” which is the preposterous notion that sellers would act contrary to their own interests in the absence of “regulations.”
Perhaps in the fly-by-night scenario, a few would. Just as a few reckless idiots will drive 100 MPH through a school zone.
But such people are generally unconcerned about “regulations,” just as stick-up men are unconcerned about “regulations” pertaining to the concealed carrying of firearms, magazine capacity and so on.
On the other hand, those who wish to continue selling have to be concerned with their reputation, which is a function of the perceived (and actual) fitness-for-use of the things they sell. If they persist in selling things that are perceived by customers as not fit (or less fit) then they will inevitably sell fewer. Others will step in to sell things that are fitter. This is the discipline of the free market – when it is allowed to operate.
Interestingly, regulators are not so much interested in fitness-for-use – as they are not selling anything. They are interested in . . . “regulations,” which buyers and sellers are forced to buy. The regulator’s incentive is to continue “regulating,” ad infinitum.
And now, ex post facto.
The danger here ought to be obvious. It is not the idea of retrofitting noise-makers to hybrids and EVs that did not have them when they were made. These pre-2018 models probably ought to have them, though that ought to be something for the owners to decide – of a piece with air bags and seat belts. But if the regulatory apparat can reach back in time and require that a vehicle made prior to a given “regulation” be retrofitted into compliance with a “regulation” that did not apply – did not exist – when the vehicle was made (and sold) then the principle for general retrofitting has been established.
It follows as logically – and inevitably – as “mask” mandates led to “vaccine” mandates. Accept one and you have already accepted the other.
Thus, if the regulatory apparat has the power to order the owner of a hybrid or EV made before 2018 to bring it in to be retrofitted with a noise-maker it was not required to have by the regulations in effect at the time of its manufacture, then the regulatory apparat has established the implicit power to order that cars made before regulations required air bags – and a litany of other things “regulated” into requirements after they were made – also be retrofitted.
Understand that this is how their system works. It is based on getting a principle accepted – that is used to establish a precedent – which is then used to expand the scope of “regulation.” When it was accepted – more than half a century ago – that new cars had to be equipped with lap belts, it became inevitable the regs would shortly require shoulder belts. From there it was easy to require that all new cars be fitted with what were styled “5 MPH” bumpers – which uglified cars and made them hundreds of pounds heavier, too. Having gone that far, it was inevitable the regulators would go farther – and they did. It is why every new car has at least four air bags – and most have six or more.
That is bad enough, if you are atavistic enough to cling to OldThinkful ideas about free exchange between sellers and buyers.
Far worse, though, is the possibility that the regulatory apparat will succeed in shoving its camel’s nose under the tent and establishing the principle – and precedent – of retroactive regulation. For once established, it will be expanded. It could be used as a way to de facto ban cars made before air bags were regulated into existence, for instance. Also cars that were made before catalytic converters were regulated into existence – and so on. It is not feasible to retrofit such things on cars not originally made with them without re-engineering them. The expense would be prohibitive – which would serve the purpose.
Keep in mind – always – the people we’re dealing with. And how they deal. They do not boil the water in sight of the frog. They warm up the water the frog sits in. The fundamental thing to get is the heat is on – and rising.
And the only way to prevent it from getting hotter is to turn off the heat.
As by rejecting the legitimacy of the government “regulating” anything. Now – or retroactively.
. . .
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