Government Regulation: America’s Regulatory Complex
Government Regulation: The Problem or the Solution?
Wander America’s statehouses with open ears and a word recurs: government regulation. It dominates floor speeches and press conferences—government is the Grinch, stifling innovation with its endless rulemaking. If only we had fewer regulations, businesses would thrive and jobs would abound! But the hushed conversations outside wood-paneled committee rooms tell a different tale.
The private sector loves regulations that go their way. Capitols teem with lobbyists advocating for rules on behalf of clients looking to weaponize the regulatory process to secure a competitive edge. Drug manufacturers want to disadvantage generics; in-state insurers want hurdles for their out-of-state competitors; licensed hairdressers want tougher licensing standards for new entrants to the market. The list is endless.
The American public suffers not only from regulatory schizophrenia, but also naïveté concerning why some ingredients end up in the sausage. The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press documents this in their February 2012 report, Mixed Views of Regulation, Support for Keystone Pipeline: Auto Bailout Now Backed, Stimulus Divisive. Americans substantially prefer strengthening or maintaining many public safety regulations—health, food supply, automobile, environmental—despite identifying these same regulations as harmful to business. We have a complex.
Worse, the conservative culture has created a winning brand; regulations only impede growth. This subterfuge is designed to capitalize on our impressions of regulations as found by Pew, exacerbate the partisan divide and distract from the meaningful policy conversations Democrats keep trying to start. Meanwhile, the Republicans’ constituent industries invest huge sums of money and intellectual capital into building a regulatory framework that forms the marrow of their competitive bones.
It’s time someone lift the veil. We need a comprehensive study analyzing the root of our rules and regulations, so we can bury these meritless charges and expose the duplicity of the right wing when it comes to the fictional regulatory assault.