August 24, 2015

The Regulatory State: A Modest Reform Proposal

From: Library of Law & Liberty

The Mercatus Center has just published a troubling snapshot analysis of the accumulation of regulatory mandates and restrictions since the Carter Administration. Other analyses confirm the picture of a burgeoning regulatory state. My own favorite is the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s annual, invaluable !0,000 Commandments Report. But it’s the same picture wherever you look:

  • Regardless of the metric, the regulatory state has grown at a breathtaking rate, for decades.
  • The regulatory state has imposed a heavy toll on the economy. CEI estimates the cost of the “hidden (regulatory) tax” at close to $15,000 for every man, woman, and child in America. Yes, you can quarrel with the methodology. And yes, maybe all that money buys something that’s worth having. But the crucial fact is that regulatory impositions aren’t subject to any kind of budget constraint. So long as a regulation looks like a neat idea and an agency can conjure up some net benefit, it’s all systems go. It’s bound to be the case that there’s altogether too much of this.
  • The growth of the regulatory state has been a bipartisan affair. Control of the White House does not seem to matter. Control of Congress matters less and less.

To borrow Vladimir Lenin’s excellent question: What is to be done?

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