“The only winning move is not to play”

The insanity of the regulatory race to the bottom

By William K. Black

The plot of the movie WarGames (1983) involves a slacker hacker (played by Matthew Broderick) who starts playing the game “Global Thermonuclear War” with Joshua, a Department of Defense (DoD) supercomputer that has been given partial control by DoD of our nuclear forces.  The game prompts Joshua, who has been programmed to win games, to trick DoD into authorizing Joshua to launch an attack on the Soviet Union so that Joshua can win the game.  The hacker and the professor that programmed Joshua realize that the only way to prevent Joshua from attacking is to teach “him” that no one can “win” global thermonuclear war.  The insanity is that the people who created the game “Global Thermonuclear War” thought it could be won.  Joshua races through thousands of scenarios and ends his plan to win the “Global Thermonuclear War” game by attacking the Soviet Union when he realizes that “the only winning move is not to play.”

The JOBS Act is insane on many levels.  It creates an extraordinarily criminogenic environment in which securities fraud will become even more out of control.   One of the forms of insanity is the belief that one can “win” a regulatory “race to the bottom.”  The only winning move is not to play in a regulatory race to the bottom.  The primary rationale for the JOBS Act is the claim that we must win a regulatory race to the bottom with the City of London by adopting even weaker protections for investors from securities fraud than does the United Kingdom (UK).

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