Sadly, “Yes,” would be the answer from most business owners to this question. The American people perhaps appreciate OSHA and work safety regulation, but tons of business owners absolutely despise it.

In my own experience as a business manager and business owner, my peers did everything they could to get around OSHA regulations. They would either deny the regulations make sense, claim they’re too expensive to implement, or argue they run counter to principles of American liberty.

But of course that’s exactly why we must have government enforcing workplace safety — because despite ideological claims to the contrary, businesses in a capitalistic environment are incapable of regulating themselves. Theory says that unsafe businesses will fail and so the market will do a perfectly good job of enforcing safety. Practice shows us the theory is wrong.

Profit will drive business owners to be as unsafe as possible without going out of business because too many of their workers get sick, injured, or die.

And as we are clearly seeing now, that applies to plenty of businesses with respect to covid. Businesses in my town mostly won’t enforce mask wearing either. People in this part of the state are absurdly dismissive of the reality of covid. The absurdity matters less to business owners than the bottom line. They won’t alienate customers if that means losing profits or possibly going out of business.

Which is a perfect illustration of why government regulation is necessary to temper capitalism.

Written by

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot.

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