By Rob Skidmore

A segment of the population has bought the idea that commercial, financial and environmental regulations are merely examples of government intrusion into our lives, and a restriction of our freedoms.

Currently, 80 percent of Texans have tap water that exceeds levels of radium considered safe for drinking. Regulations, established by the Environmental Protection Agency, during a time when the value of such regulations was understood, were ignored by the person who is now this administration’s nominee to head the Council on Environmental Quality. During a congressional interview, this person could not answer the most basic questions about about climate, and about ocean absorption of thermal energy.

Texans, among other Americans, now have a chance to reflect on the idea that regulations typically come into existence to protect consumers (that’s us) and citizens (that’s also us) from unbridled financial or industrial operations that, in the name of profit, trample on basic needs of individuals and families, and the health and healthfulness of the environments we live in by default.

These regulations are examples of people (us) using government as our means for implementation of collective decisions. There is no more efficient means of implementing such decisions. If we couldn’t use government to enact such things, we would have to create new bodies that were as extensive as government is, and had the same teeth as government currently has. That would mean establishing separate bodies for each concern, or one body that is essentially identical to our governmental structure. For some regulations to have any effect at all, they must be nationwide in scope.

In other words, the role of government as expressive of our collective will has been downplayed, and portrayed as an intrusion into our freedom. The aspersion cast upon this role of government is the result of lobbying and outright bribery on the part of corporations that do not necessarily have our interests in mind. Many of them would like nothing more than to have collective regulations rolled back, and will do anything to promote the idea that regulations are enemies of freedom.

It is often our public well-being that is protected by regulations. Financial crashes are but one example of what can happen when protections are not adequate. Texans are discovering this to be true.

— Rob Skidmore is a licensed counselor who lives in Ashland, and practices at Wellspring Counseling Center in Medford.