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A wry thought came to me the other day. The Right is always insisting that government regulation is strangling industry. That the need to comply with all these unnecessary regulations (like respecting women’s rights or washing your hands after going to the toilet) would crush the backs of small business owners – you know, true entrepreneurs and the engineroom of the Australian economy.

Phillip Ruddock insisted that the way to stop illegal asylum seekers was to stop people smugglers and that he always thought of people smugglers as like entrepreneurs. Therefore, the way to stop the people smugglers was to make their product worth less – for example, through more limited Temporary Protection Visas with no power for family reunion if the asylum seekers and found not to be genuine refugees. In other words, the government must actually crush these entrepreneurs through ham-fisted regulation.

And yet, despite all their efforts and breaching of various human rights and international law norms, the government has failed to crush the entrepreneurial spirit of those evil people smugglers. Now the Left, with their much vaunted logic, would argue that this shows that entrepreneurialism is a lot more resilient to regulation than the Right believes. But on the contrary, surely it shows the incompetence of the government at what it does best – regulation. When it wants to destroy private enterprise, it seems woefully incapable of doing so. When it doesn’t want to, it can have such devastating effects on small businessmen. Such a shame. Perhaps we should privatise the entire government. That would solve everything.

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