My students know that they are in school to learn and that they must finish their assignments well in order to be successful in my class and in the world.
While I'm in the classroom with them, walking around and checking to see if they're working, they buckle down. They pay attention (mostly). They try.
Intrinsically they know they're working for their own good, but the motivation comes mostly from my oversight and encouragement.
Let's suppose I told my students what to do and just left the classroom, fully expecting them to do what I told them to do. How do you think that would go? Twenty-five kids between the ages 14 and 15, all on their own, with some assignment to do. Would they do it?
Ha ha! That's a rhetorical question. Of course they wouldn't do it! Oh, of course one or two super studious kids would work, but the rest would goof off.
Oversight is important.
Another word for oversight? Regulation. As the teacher, I'm the regulator in the classroom. I'm the person with standards and expectations. These standards and expectations are often followed grudgingly by my pupils ... but they are followed, so long as I oversee.
The federal government is kind of like a teacher. Regulations are like oversight. All these businesses calling for less regulation? They're the kids who want to goof off because the teacher is gone. Except they don't really want to goof off, they want to make more money. Rules get in their way.
Maybe you heard that there was a big explosion in a chemical factory in Texas due to flooding. More explosions can be expected. Buried deep in the story is the fact that this company had ten violations recorded last February. This company should have had a fail-safe plan for a hurricane, but hey. This is Texas, land of conservative Republicans.
Now, even the safest and best company will run risks in catastrophic flooding. But companies who have been like kids in an unattended classroom will be more likely to threaten human health with their products and processes ... if there are no rules.
Don't tell me there are too many regulations! If you let the fox mind the hen house, someone is going to get hurt. Maybe a lot of people. Things will go boom.