Self-Regulation FAIL

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Writing my screed against the AMA’s ridiculous price-setting cabal got me thinking. Is there a single example of a profession that self-regulates in a way that’s good for society as a whole, as opposed to protecting the interests of the members of that profession at the expense of everyone else? Liberals often slam industries when they talk about a desire to “self-regulate.” Why shouldn’t we be skeptical of the same claims from professional associations? Doctors (with their labor theory of value) and lawyers (with their billable hours) are just the most pernicious examples of professions that have structured their compensation in ways that are deeply harmful to the public interest.

Of course, with government regulation, you run the risk of industry capture—professions can and do simply petition the government to enact regulations that only serve the interests of their members—requiring interior designer licenses, for example. But self-regulation has no chance of working for anything other than the professionals’ self-interest. So it seems like government regulation at least gives you the chance of a result that serves the greater good. People and industries do not consistently act against their self-interest. So if an industry or a profession or a person’s self-interest runs contrary to the public good, there’s a case for changing the law and instituting penalties that change that calculus.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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