OPINION: Some rays of hope at a pretty pessimistic time
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An executive order to reduce and discourage regulations would stimulate economic activity, spurring investment and jobs.

That was the message of a Gazette editorial in January 2017, after President Donald Trump signed an order that said "For every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination."

"Our market, liberated to make the world a better place, can create great jobs and amazing products," the editorial predicted.

Regulation moderates activities, and humans cannot survive without moderation. Conversely, business, investment and innovation stagnate when government goes beyond reason in moderating activities.

Regulation has played a key role in the country's economic surge. Don't take The Gazette's word for this. Instead, look to The New York Times. The flagship of American newspapers isn't known for applauding less regulation. Until Monday.

"A wave of optimism has swept over American business leaders, and it is beginning to translate into the sort of investment in new plants, equipment and factory upgrades that bolsters economic growth, spurs job creation — and may finally raise wages significantly," says a Times front page story Jan. 1.

It continues: "While business leaders are eager for the tax cuts that take effect this year, the newfound confidence was initially inspired by the Trump administration's regulatory pullback."

" 'It's an overall sense that you're not going to face any new regulatory fights," said Granger MacDonald, a homebuilder in Kerrville, Tex. "We're not spending more, which is the main thing. We're not seeing any savings, but we're not seeing any increases.' "

Optimism, trust, fairness and stability encourage economic investment and the resulting growth. Conversely, any regulation that poses unstable, unpredictable conditions prods investors in the direction of hoarding capital in safe, nonproductive assets that do little to spread wealth through jobs and better wages.

Coloradans know how excessive regulations slow or stall housing and commercial developments, and production of oil, gas and coal. They know state officials anticipated a sluggish environmental approval process that would slow major highway projects by up to a decade, before the Trump administration streamlined federal environmental studies. Today, because of less regulation, politicians talk of breaking ground on major I-25 improvements within two years.

Regulations have a long history of shutting down banks, farms, ranches and other small businesses that cannot afford the costs.

Forbes reported on the government's absurd regulatory "war on Lemonade stands" in 2011, after city and county health departments throughout the country began fining them for lack of permits that cost $400 and up. News of $500 fines caused near-extinction of iconic child-run businesses that had lined sidewalks for centuries.

Trump claims his policies have caused 67 deregulatory actions, while federal agencies have crafted only three regulations. The administration reports federal agencies delayed, withdrew or deactivated 1,600 planned regulations in 2017.

Only anarchists dream of a world devoid of regulation, as our editorial stressed last year. We don't want criminal profiteers dumping toxic sludge into rivers without consequence, or a lack of regulation adequate to protect public safety, health or the quality of water and air. The key is finding balance.

As Oscar Wilde implored, "Everything in moderation, including moderation."

The Gazette editorial board

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