Monday, March 07, 2011

Do Government Regulations Create Jobs?

One did for me.

In the fall of 2001, I was working as a mainframe dbms contract programmer for a major brokerage house client in Weehawken, New Jersey. You 'had a friend' there, if you remember their ads. They are long gone, absorbed into a Swiss bank.

Shortly after 9/11/2001, the government issued a new regulation. Every brokerage house needed to provide the government every week with a list of new clients, showing their names and their Social Security numbers or other ID numbers. The government was "worried about large-scale money laundering". So another programmer set up a retrieval that spanned several systems. It created a file every week.

I kept an eye on his program as it ran every week, and then I ran a program that copied this file to tape and saw that the tape got sent out to an outside vendor. Two programmers got work from this, as well as the vendor. I did need to repair his system once a year because it didn't delete his intermediate files and ran out of space. But other than that, overseeing compliance with this government regulation was trivial and earned me about a half hour's billing every week.

Industry-wide, that regulation must have created hundreds of jobs.

Many government regulations require inspections, reporting, changes and adjustments, special equipment or programs, corporate oversight, and all of these take human time to complete.

Government regulations create jobs.

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