by Virginia Postrel • Aug 17, 2004 at 11:48 pm
After nearly four years, both the WaPost--in a three-part series, no less--and the NYT, in a more-modest single article have suddenly discovered that the Bush administration has taken a dim view of regulation. Now John Kerry is (suprise) joining the chorus of condemnation, suggesting that the administration's anti-regulatory stance is nothing more or less than corruption--a quid pro quo in exchange for campaign contributions.
The reporters take the attitude that any restriction approved by "activists" and disapproved by "business" must be good--end of debate. They also make heavy weather of the fact that regulatory policy is made largely without public scrutiny. That's true, of course, but it's nothing new. The whole point of regulatory agencies is to take law-making out of the legislative process and put it in the hands of "disinterested" technocrats. And enabling legislation is almost always esoteric and complex, the sort of thing only special interest groups, pro and con, pay attention to or even understand.
This NYT graphic tells the story (click link for full-size version). Note that it shows the incremental costs of new regulations, not the total cost of all regulations. Today's regulatory costs include the costs of complying with old regulations.
Taken as a whole, this latest media campaign offers an answer to an oft-asked question: Why on earth would a libertarian vote for George W. Bush?
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