Donovan – Rules and Regulations

This is not exactly a well-known song from the Scottish folkie of the 1960s. But it does provide an excuse to define regulations.

Regulations are like delegated or secondary legislation (laws). That is, they are rules we follow that are made by government departments and agencies given the ability to do so, often by an overarching general law. There are two main types of regulation: economic (relating to industry activities such as competition, price and advertising), and social (related to our health and safety, or employment).

Commonly, people have stories about government regulations they have heard about, which seem to lack common sense or even inhibit personal freedom. Yet when someone is injured or poisoned by a malfunctioning or poorly designed product, they will be the first to cry out for government to do something about it: regulate! But then, business may find the gradual build-up of regulations restricting to their pursuit of profit given the cost of compliance.

Another debate surrounding regulations is accountability, when their creation and enforcement is done at “arms length” from the legislature.

Regulations are also described as “red tape,” which the Circle Jerks sang about, reviewed here.

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