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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Overregulation: The Problem We Can’t Outproduce

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There will always be some anecdote making it sound like increased regulation is our only option.  A posture of principled skepticism toward the very concept of government regulation – an assumption that given our natural rights, it should be rare and limited – is the only thing that will consistently defeat those incessant appeals.

We’ve reached the end of the line.  Our freedom to start businesses has been seriously degraded.  The cost of inputs to all facets of life, including operating a business, has soared, due largely to regulation.  We aren’t better off for all this regulation, which has gone so far beyond things like clean water and warding off disease that it is now doubling back on itself, and deliberately denying us water and declining to spray public spaces for disease-carrying mosquitoes.  Regulation has left the compact with the public behind, and is now more about restraining citizens than about helping them – more about creating new sinecures for policy advocates than about ensuring the people have full, unfettered use of their property and their individual gifts.

We can’t compromise with the regulatory impulse.  That’s what we’ve been doing for the last 100 years, and this is where we are because of it.  Overregulation has created the flailing America of 2012.   Only a dramatic reduction of regulation at the top two levels of government – federal and state – can make the difference we need.  Unless we get this through our heads, the American idea of liberty, with rights of men that are good against regulation, no matter how badly its advocates want to impose it, will die with my generation.

 

* The quotations are taken from Kiron K. Skinner, Annelise Anderson, and Martin Anderson, Reagan’s Path to Victory (New York: Free Press, 2004).  The book compiles the notes Reagan made for a number of his five-minute radio broadcasts between 1975 and 1979.   Skinner and the Andersons transcribed Reagan’s hand-written notes by reproducing his own notations such as ampersands, strike-throughs, and abbreviations.  For clarity, I have excerpted the quotations here using full words rather than abbreviations, using “and” for ampersand, correcting spelling, and so forth.  I’ve left the sentence punctuation mostly alone, although it could use some commas.  The pages on which the quotations in this post occur in the 2004 hardback edition are, in order:  pp. 128-9, “Added Inflation”; pp. 220-21, “Free Enterprise”; pp. 259-60, “Regulation.”

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About the Author: J.E. Dyer is a retired US Naval intelligence officer who served around the world, afloat and ashore, from 1983 to 2004.


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6 Responses to “Overregulation: The Problem We Can’t Outproduce”

  1. Colleen Loughmiller says:

    Dyer (retired US Navy – intelligence) writes in Jewish Press that America cannot bear any more over regulation and has reached the end of its very productive economy! Another voice saying what Mitt is saying: Time for a change in the White House before America sputters and stops.

  2. Charlie Hall says:

    "Housing values have plunged into an abyss, with no end in sight."

    As they should have in places like Nevada and the Central Valley of California — there was never any justification for them having been so high in the first place. In my own neighborhood in NYC, housing prices have rebounded to pre-crash levels, or higher.

    And California could help its real estate market out a lot by repealing the "Welcome, Stranger!" provision of Prop 13, where a new purchaser can pay five times the real estate taxes of the house next door. No wonder why nobody wants to buy a house there!

    "Restrictive rate policies of the Interstate Commerce Commission ".

    Interstate bus service was deregulated in 1980, and the ICC itself was abolished in 1996 — both actions under Democratic Presidents. Unfortunately, we need better regulation of motorcoach services, as the last year's horrible crash in the Bronx showed. That bus should not have been on the road and 15 people are dead as a result. A lot of regulation is literally life-saving.

    "regulation itself is mostly a bad thing".

    The Torah would disagree. It mandates far more restrictions on business conduct than any regulatory system. Rabbi Dr. Aaron Levine z'tz'l wrote convincingly that following the Torah mandates would have prevented the 2008 crash.

    "Our freedom to start businesses has been seriously degraded."

    I sure don't see that — I see lots of businesses getting started here in the Bronx every year, mostly by immigrants who ignore propaganda like this.

    And some of those companies might get big: Three of the four largest companies in America — Apple, Microsoft, and Walmart — did not exist when I was born in 1957. Google, #8 on the list, is less than 15 years old.

  3. Charlie Hall says:

    And one might have thought that the author might have been able to have come up with some specific examples that are more recent than 30+ years ago, from an agency that doesn't even exit. The Clinton administration really did reduce regulation dramatically, and unfortunately in the financial sector it went too far in that. Note that Canada and Israel, which did NOT deregulate, did NOT have a banking crisis, and have robust economies today.

  4. Todd Kadish says:

    I'm surprised because I usually find articles in the Jewish Press to be models of integrity and deep, non-partisan analysis…

  5. Charlie Hall says:

    One can make a case that the US has overregulated some areas of the economy, although not the financial sector. But this doesn't make any case at all! I'm surprised the newspaper accepted it.

  6. Charlie Hall says:

    BTW regarding the JP's non-partisan nature, the JP usually endorses Democrats in local elections.

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