I’m shocked — shocked! — to learn that a big company supports regulations

The latest Bloomberg Businessweek offers us this shocker:

Businesses usually vehemently oppose rules that raise their costs. But Maersk Line, the world’s biggest container-shipping company, says it’s willing to continue using low-sulfur fuel on container ships sailing from Hong Kong’s port to help curb the city’s big pollution problem. There’s only one catch: Maersk wants the government to force its rivals to be green, too. “Some carriers turn up here, they don’t switch to low-sulfur fuel, and they get a cost advantage,” says Tim Smith, Maersk’s North Asia chief executive officer. “We don’t think that’s right. What we want is the government to regulate.”

Maersk and 17 other operators have voluntarily used low-sulfur oil for the past two years to help curb Hong Kong’s pollution, the worst among global financial centers. Although the government provides incentives for shipping lines that switch to cleaner fuels for vessels calling on the world’s third-busiest container port, Smith says the incentives don’t offset all additional costs. He says Maersk ships will stop using cleaner fuel in Hong Kong at the end of this year unless the government mandates higher-quality oil for carriers berthing in the city.

It’s apparent that this article’s three writers (It took three people to write this? Seriously?) ever has learned that big businesses often like regulations that smaller competitors can’t afford. That’s why big corporate bigwigs often join forces with activists of various sorts to support costly rules linked to health or the environment. It’s called a Baptists and bootleggers coalition.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

Reader Comments