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Why regulations matter

Why regulations matter

In today’s anti-government political environment, there’s a lot of rhetoric thrown around about the bugaboo “excessive regulation.”

Just last week, I heard a spokesperson for Dupont tell a congressional committee that the decline of traditional pensions was due, in large part, to a “burdensome regulatory regime.”

We hear this time and again in almost every area whether it’s pensions, auto safety or the environment. Companies always blame regulations.

But as Bob Shull, former Director of Regulatory Policy for OMB Watch and currently a program officer at the Public Welfare Foundation, pointed out to another congressional subcommittee recently, “agencies don’t regulate for the sake of regulating. They regulate because they have been charged by Congress…to protect the public and to protect the public’s health, its safety, the environment,” and I’ll add, “its retirement security.”

He noted that government regulators are charged with interpreting laws to ensure that they are implemented fairly – in the best interests of consumers as well as businesses. “[W]e use government institutions to pool our collective resources into forces strong enough to act against the larger forces that isolated individuals cannot surmount.”

In the retirement income arena this has translated into rules to make sure that: 401(k) fees are transparent so consumers know what they’re charged; companies include lower- and middle-income workers in retirement plans not just higher-paid company officers; and information about plans is understandable and in plain-English.

Regulations are necessary. It’s time to recognize them as vitally important safeguards that are critical to a civilized society.

Visit the Regulations section of our website to learn about important regulations that help ensure the retirement security of workers, retirees and their families.

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