This is kind of an insane conversation to have. Businesses are essentially arguing that it's okay to kill people if they can also hire people. That's really what this "job-killing regulation" debate is all about. Let's be clear: One side is arguing
September 7, 2011

This is kind of an insane conversation to have. Businesses are essentially arguing that it's okay to kill people if they can also hire people. That's really what this "job-killing regulation" debate is all about. Let's be clear: One side is arguing that job creation is such an absolute good, businesses should be allowed to kill people. The other side is saying, "Please don't let them kill us." Which side has the stronger moral position?

“My view is that the Republican claim that ‘job-killing regulation’ is a redundancy is as ridiculous as the left-wing view that ‘job-killing regulation’ is an oxymoron,” said Cass Sunstein, head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. “Both are silly political claims that have no place in a serious discussion.”

Notice the sleight of hand there? Leftists are arguing for the very existence of our planet, not that regulations don't ever cost jobs. The "silly political claim" is that it's now perfectly okay to value money over human life. Remember, this is not simply a bottom line-oriented private business cheerleading this principle -- it's the U.S. government, who's supposed to be protecting the rights of its citizens. And it's not just silly, but plain immoral to imply that letting businesses pollute our air and water is the best way to create jobs.

If all we really care about is job creation, why not legalize drugs? Nope, we can't have that discussion because it's not really about jobs. It's about Republican bullies mowing down a compliant president.

I suppose the next move will be to abolish OSHA regulations. The Republicans are lining up citizen protections and knocking them down, one after the other. And a Democratic administration is helping them do it:

Do environmental regulations kill jobs?

Republicans and business groups say yes, arguing that environmental protection is simply too expensive for a battered economy. They were quick to claim victory Friday after the Obama administration abandoned stricter ozone pollution standards.

Many economists agree that regulation comes with undeniable costs that can affect workers. Factories may close because of the high cost of cleanup, or owners may relocate to countries with weaker regulations.

But many experts say that the effects should be assessed through a nuanced tally of costs and benefits that takes into account both economic and societal factors. Some argue that the costs can be offset as companies develop cheaper ways to clean up pollutants, and others say that regulation is often blamed for job losses that occur for different reasons, like a stagnant economy. As companies develop new technologies to cope with regulatory requirements, some new jobs are created.

[...] The question of just how much environmental regulation hurts jobs is a particularly delicate one as leaders in Washington debate the best ways to address the nation’s stubbornly high unemployment rate. As President Obama prepares for an important speech on Thursday focusing on job creation, Republicans are pushing for a rollback in environmental regulations that they say saddle companies with onerous costs that curtail jobs without leading to significant improvement in environmental or public health.

Part of the problem in evaluating the costs of regulation is that there have been few systematic studies of such costs after regulations are imposed.

“Regulations are put on the books and largely stay there unexamined,” said Michael Greenstone, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “This is part of the reason that these debates about regulations have a Groundhog’s Day quality to them.”

Mr. Greenstone has conducted one of the few studies that actually measure job losses related to environmental rules. In researching the amendments to the Clean Air Act that affected polluting plants from 1972 and 1987, he found that those companies lost almost 600,000 jobs compared with what would have happened without the regulations.

But Mr. Greenstone has also conducted research showing that clean air regulations have reduced infant mortality and increased housing prices, and indeed many economists argue that job losses should not be considered in isolation. They say the costs of regulations are dwarfed by the gains in lengthened lives, reduced hospitalizations and other health benefits, and by economic gains like the improvement to the real estate market.

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