Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 18, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

CRYING WOLF....Ready for a shocker? The telemarketing industry estimated that the federal Do-Not-Call list would cost 2 million jobs, but it turns out that the real number is actually a wee bit lower:

The telemarketing industry appears to have weathered the creation of the list, which more than 63 million Americans have signed up for. A year after it went into effect, fears of massive layoffs and failures among telemarketing companies haven't been borne out.

....A recent study by London-based market analysis firm Datamonitor suggested that the do-not-call list would play a relatively small role in telemarketing layoffs when compared with technology advances and the outsourcing of jobs to countries such as India that have lower labor costs.

Estimating that there are about 4.3 million telemarketing jobs in 50,600 call centers of 10 workers or more, Datamonitor concluded that some 7,500 to 15,000 jobs could be lost by 2008 because of the do-not-call list.

Virtually every business regulation ever proposed, from gas mileage standards to workplace safety guidelines to clean air rules, has prompted cries from industry that they'll be crippled. And while there are a few horror story exceptions here and there, in virtually every case the industries in question have not only done fine, they've prospered.

Of course, the business community isn't the only offender. Environmental groups, labor unions, social conservatives, gun lobbies, and every other special interest group you can think of routinely predict a collapse of one kind or another if some hated regulation is passed or modified in some way. But it almost never happens.

Overregulation certainly has both an economic and a social cost, and it's worthwhile to overhaul regulatory regimes periodically for a variety of reasons. But a surprising amount of regulation accomplishes almost exactly what it was designed to accomplish, and with relatively little damage in the process. Remember that the next time you hear a cry of impending doom from someone with an axe to grind.

Kevin Drum 12:34 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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