Have Industry Leaders Earned the Right to Self Regulate?

It used to be called letting the inmates run the asylum—business insiders are now putting in requests to the White House to have different regulatory policies overturned. Trump strategist Steve Bannon has described this as “the deconstruction of the administrative state.”

In a March 5 article in the New York Times, “Leashes Come Off Wall Street, Gun Sellers, Polluters and More,” Eric Lipton and Binyamin Appelbaum reveal how telecomm giants will no longer have to protect customers from having their personal information hacked, the big banks won’t need to require extra fees against high-risk trades, and people with severe mental health issues will be free to purchase guns. These changes and many are part of “one of the most significant shifts in regulatory policy in recent decades,” they write.

Reviewing regulations and policies is necessary to ensure that they are still relevant and that they provide protections against the abuse of power, corruption and the erosion of human rights. Business interests must also be taken into account and must be addressed when regulations create unfair competitive advantages and restrain growth and performance. But what we are witnessing isn’t a thoughtful balance with which other administrations have struggled, but the wholesale elimination and gutting of regulatory safeguards.

Last year I posted 150 blogs, the majority of which focused on the abuse of power, control, corruption and scandals in every sector in our society. One of the notable exceptions was my blog post about how well Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors, handled the emission switch scandal. Sadly, the reason I haven't written more positive stories is because there are so few to report on. Because of this, I assert that there is too little evidence of corporations with a record of balancing social conscience with business objectives for organizational leaders to have earned the right to self-regulate. Taking the leash off without a thoughtful review is irresponsible and dangerous.

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