Oh no, it’s unregulated!

A fitness article recently instructed readers to be careful because the fitness industry is largely unregulated. I reacted the way I often do when reading this common sentiment: Oh no! What are we going to do? I feel so unmoored and helpless!

Seriously folks, while you should exercise discernment with all of man’s wisdom, would introducing the government into the fitness industry really improve it? This unfounded belief in the goodness of regulation is why the government regulates in some fashion just about everything in our houses. It’s why the federal register is north of 70,000 pages. It’s a reason why the government spends half of the national GDP. I would love to do a study of an average business and see how much time and money is wasted complying with regulations. In my job, I see the distortions introduced by the tax code all the time.

Oh yes, people say, but if it were unregulated why our cars would be blowing up and our food would be poisoned! There are easy answers to this one. First, this stuff occurs despite the government. Approved drugs get recalled, government-inspected plants sell infected meat, etc. Second, in a free market a seller has something supremely valuable called a reputation. You don’t get a good reputation by poisoning and killing people. Buyers use private means such as watchdog articles and Amazon reviews. There are outside firms – UL comes to mind – that put their own stamp of approval on things. These could and should 100% replace the government.

The best argument against regulation is this: the government doesn’t do anything well. It lacks incentives. It lacks a price system to guide it.

Only dishonest politicians attach the words “smart” and “cost-effective” to government actions. We rarely hear of an industrious government worker. Instead the government is slow, corrupt, ham-handed, stupid. Its claim of independence is phony. Why would we want that entity regulating us?

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