Make no mistake, the all-out assault on virtually every form of regulation and government oversight by the current Administration and its lackeys in recent weeks is part of a larger ideological war that is being waged—a war on being forced to take responsibility and be subjected to accountability.
Being held responsible and accountable for waste, pollution, environmental degradation, social exploitation, and unethical business practices gets in the way of generating maximum profits, but there is even more to it. For those whose mantra has become the endless condemnation of “onerous” regulations and the call for the demise of “government overreach,” the fundamental, gut-level resentment of “being told what to do” has been festering for a long, long time, just itching for a chance to boil to the surface and erupt.
Multiple times each week we witness the staged celebrations of the representatives of one industry or business group after another as they toady for “team” photos and souvenir pens at some contrived, made-for-the-media signing spectacle in the Oval Office. Afterwards they seek out every available microphone and camera in their attempts to draw attention to and extend their particular moment in the sun, then rush to launch press releases intended to impress their constituents in order to hold on to their illusion of influence and importance.
For the moment, at least, it’s as if we are screening the real-life version of Jurassic Park, as ravenous predators are unleashed to feast on the buffet of easy pickings being served up by Executive Order while smug foxes are assigned to guard the proverbial hen house. You can almost hear the band playing “Happy Days Are Here Again” in the background.
But let’s not dance around the obvious. In the actions being taken by this Administration there is an element of revenge, of deep resentment, what may in fact be accurately described as a visceral expression of hatred, for the previous Administration, a quite personal vendetta that coincidentally salves the wounds endured by all those who despise rules and regulations.
One a certain level, what we are experiencing is simple payback. For too long and in too many instances, some of those who sought to impose regulations and controls on business and industry, and protect the interests of the little guy, have openly gloated over their victories, happy to rub it in whenever the opportunity presented itself.
The same self-righteous, condescending, patronizing, holier-than-thou expression that became the trademark of too many environmentalists, social justice advocates and academics, not to mention a whole set of bureaucrats and high-profile politicians (do I really need to name anyone in particular?) is an image that has been impossible for many to stomach and now we are seeing evidence that, indeed, every dog has his day.
As usual, the natural environment is the first casualty of this conflict, considered by the forces opposed to regulation as either irrelevant or necessary collateral damage. Unfortunately, that damage will not be undone by some future stroke of the pen when the pendulum swings back the other way, as it inevitably will. Some of it may never be repaired.
The design, construction and development industry is not an exception. Now that the pendulum has swung in their direction, anti-regulation groups are emboldened and encouraged. Even though building codes and many types of regulations are adopted and enforced at the jurisdictional level don’t assume that there are not ambitious efforts to undo existing requirements and thwart any and all attempts to mandate performance standards wherever they exist and are being proposed.
Those organizations and individuals whose common goal, and clearly stated mission, is to maximize the profit-generating opportunities of members of the industry deliberately ignore, and in many cases conveniently deny, the long-term consequences of deconstructing the regulatory platforms that are intended to provide protection for our land, water and air, and for the future generations who will depend on them for their quality of life, even life itself.
All the while they perpetuate the myth that they safeguard the interests of the consumer and advance the notion that rules and regulations are created to harm the provider and the customer alike, to kill jobs, to disrupt the economy and serve only the special interests who support them. It is a bait and switch that they have nearly perfected.
Those of us who are committed to the development, adoption and enforcement of codes, standards, and regulations intended to serve the interests of the public will need to double down on our efforts and weather the storm for as long as it lasts and perhaps learn the unfortunate lesson that the dinosaurs may be extinct but their DNA survives and must be vigilantly monitored.