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Government Regulation

September 19, 1986

Frederick C. Thayer's thoughtful article (Editorial Pages, Sept. 11) on regulation of airlines points up the fallacy common among businessmen that government regulation is inherently evil. Rather, regulation imposes a degree of control for business, which keeps it from excesses that could ultimately lead to the destruction of our capitalist economy.

Owners and managers of business are not "bad guys." They are people dedicated to earning maximum profits, the single purpose for which they are employed and compensated. Given their dedication and a keen awareness that their own financial security rests upon the ability to maximize profitability, it is no wonder that they often feel compelled to exercise every option, regardless of social consequence, to realize their goals.

There isn't anything wrong in earning a profit, but there is something very wrong when the pressures of their need forces many business people into unethical, irresponsible and even illegal practices.

Those are the times when only government regulation imposes a limitation and compels them to keep competition in the marketplace where it rightfully belongs.

Government regulations--abuses and all--should be welcomed by the business community, for they create an atmosphere in which personal ability, enterprise and initiative may flourish and where morally (and legally) questionable activities are not common prerequisites for success.

The competitive pressures of a largely unregulated economy invite unethical behavior. They cause decent, responsible and well-intentioned business people to engage in socially negative practices that they may find personally unpalatable, but which they justify as concomitants of a successful bottom-line effort.

Members of the business community would be well-advised to stop wasting their precious resources on "philosophical" antipathy to regulation. Instead, they should use their considerable talents and resources to work with government to assure that regulation is appropriate to the situation and is well-administered.

By so doing, they will free themselves to concentrate on providing a product or service of high quality, which may be profitably sold at a fair price, thereby assuring the success of their individual enterprises. That's what American free enterprise is supposed to be all about.

LEE HAHN

Los Angeles

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