Those who support a strong regulatory state argue that only the government has the power and the incentives to make sure products are safe. Anarcho-capitalists like myself argue that where consumers demand high-quality or assurances of safety, the market will provide it as competitors, always alert for ways to differentiate themselves, will seek out ways to create a brand around safety or security (see Volvo, for example). If those competitors gain market share, then others will have to emulate them.
The Bush Administration has, at least for mad cow disease, chosen to take the worst of both of these worlds, resisting calls for the government to test more than 1% of the beef while actually barring private firms from competing on the basis of better testing.
The Bush administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease.
Agriculture Department tests less than 1 percent of slaughtered cows
for the disease, which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef.
But Kansas-based Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wants to test all of its cows.
meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone tested its meat
and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive
Basically, Creekstone's competitors are asking to be protected from having to respond to innovation by their competitors. Their response is roughly equivalent to Barnes and Noble saying in 1998, "Amazon should be banned from selling books on the internet because if they do so, we may have to bear the cost of doing the same." No shit. Deal with it.
Again, regulation is being used to protect companies from the cost of full competition.