Over-regulated America Part Deux

Posted: February 21, 2012 by chad98036 in Uncategorized

Following up from last week.  In this article the Economist looks (briefly) at why it is so hard to reform regulation. 

The conclusion – Congress is full of morons who are scared of pimento farmers.  I’m not sure that the two are directly related but it does indicate that I, as a full fledged moron who lives in fear of pimento farmers rising up to kill me, should be in congress.

Besides the whole pimento farmer thing the article reinforced the point I was making about this election really being about who will best implement some sort of regulatory reform.  In a year when the Obama administration is “reducing regulation” they have proposed 194 new ones.  In contrast, the Arch-liberal George W. Bush administration proposed 141 in it’s first 3 years in office.  Probably still too many, although I would be a lot of them revolved around War on Terror activities, but quite a difference in numbers.

In a second (third if you count the one I posted last week) article the way the costs and benefits of regulations are calculated is examined.  Short answer, not honestly:

The minutiae of how regulators calculate benefits may seem arcane, but matters a lot. When businesses complain that Mr Obama has burdened them with costly new rules, his advisers respond that those costs are more than justified by even higher benefits. His Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which vets the red tape spewing out of the federal apparatus, reckons the “net benefit” of the rules passed in 2009-10 is greater than in the first two years of the administrations of either George Bush junior or Bill Clinton.

But those calculations have been criticised for resting on assumptions that yield higher benefits and lower costs. One of these assumptions is the generous use of ancillary benefits, or “co-benefits”, such as reductions in fine particles as a result of a rule targeting mercury.

If reducing fine particles is so beneficial, it would surely be more transparent and efficient to target them directly. As it happens, federal standards for fine-particle concentrations already exist. But the EPA routinely claims additional benefits from reducing those concentrations well below levels the current law considers safe. That is dubious: a lack of data makes it much harder to know the effects of such low concentrations.

So by claiming benefits from over-regulating already regulated particles the benefits of a regulation is artificially inflated while cost is artificially deflated.  This is not the only example of regulatory dishonesty provided.  (To be fair the article notes that the Bush administration was accused of similar chicanery in reverse, but I am with Ace, I think, in that I would rather err in favor of personal choice and freedom)

Comments
  1. alexthechick says:

    Delegation doctrine, do you speak it? Besides all the rest of the problems with the regulatory state, there’s the fact that it is in impermissible delegation of Congressional power. I know, I know that is likely to be rolled back around the same time modern Commerce Clause jurisprudence is eliminated. The important point is that I’m right.

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