Business and Republicans chafe at even mild regulations of capitalism. With businessman Donald Trump and Republicans in power, many of these regulations are being swept away.
However, as the Equifax data breach shows, weakly-regulated capitalism is putting us in danger. The risk of identity theft is not just to property. Identity theft can also be perilous to our health.
Weak regulations on capitalism reduce our control over our information. They cut our choice. And they make us poorer.
Capitalism Reducing Control
Psychologically, it is hard not to feel helpless about our lack of control vis-à-vis corporations. They lobby and fund politicians more effectively than us as consumers.
In the past, data breaches have drawn legislative and executive attention. Practically, it is questionable whether the attention has led to real action.
We should not be required to pay to protect our information because of inadequate corporate security. It was only after a public hue-and-cry that Equifax agreed to not charge for its credit freeze service.
However, for the freeze to be really effective, the public must still pay two other companies: TransUnion and Experian.
Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans are considering proposals to “roll back” regulations on these companies. As consumers, we have very little choice about their practices and our control over our information.
Capitalism Cutting Choice
In theory, one of the best things about capitalism is unrestricted choice. But without strong regulations, the number of choices for consumers shrinks.
For example, feeble regulations against monopolies permit cable companies to merge and reduce our choice of providers. Most of us get Internet and entertainment through cable companies.
As cord-cutting accelerates, there is a threat that cable companies might seek revenue by charging content providers for preferential access. That situation would be a change from current net neutrality, where we as consumers get to choose whose content to consume.
Under the Trump administration, the Federal Communications Commission is working to undo the regulations meant to protect net neutrality. We may have to dig deeper into our pockets for our right to choose our content providers.
Capitalism Making Us Poorer
A lack of regulations on advances by technology companies are forcing us to abandon perfectly-fine devices. This waste is not only polluting our earth but also making us poorer.
Of course, there are people for whom the latest devices or software is necessary. If you can afford the $1,000+ iPhone, more power to you.
But I think many like me would like to keep using the devices we have, with more control and choice. We would rather not shell out money for unnecessary advances.
Capitalism needs to create new wants. There is no doubt that profit is a powerful motive for advancement. But profits should not reduce everyone’s control and choices and impoverish us.
A good government would regulate capitalism strongly to protect its citizens and the world. Sadly, that is not the likely outcome from the Trump administration and the Republican Congress.