I have a dream: Scientific, logical regulation

Reforming government regulation to make it more scientific, logical and responsive to society and individuals' needs is a cheap and cost-effective way to accomplish major international health, economic and environmental goals, says Henry I. Miller of the Hoover Institution.

Regulation exacts societal costs whose magnitude is almost unimaginable. According to a recent analysis from the Competitive Enterprise Institute:

  • U.S. regulatory costs in 2005 were approximately $1.13 trillion, equal to almost half of all of the government's discretionary, entitlement and interest spending, and much larger than the sum of all corporate pre-tax profits.

  • Much of this is ill-spent on the most expensive cures that do the least good.

    What kinds of regulations need to be reformed or eliminated? According to Miller, these include:

  • Existing or imminent bans of important chemicals when proscriptions accomplish little for human health or the environment -- including the prohibitions on the pesticides DDT (under the United Nations' Persistent Organic Pollutants Treaty) and methyl bromide (under the U.N.'s Montreal Protocol, intended to reduce ozone depletion).

  • Excessive national and international regulations on biotechnology used in agriculture and food production should be reined-in.

  • California's notorious Proposition 65, which has resulted in "warning" signs in most commercial establishments that consumers of their products or services may be exposed to chemicals that can cause cancer or birth defects – although in almost all cases there's no hint of risk greater than, say, the household cleaners in the average home.

    These regulations are hugely expensive to society, says Miller.

    Source: Henry I. Miller, Letter to the Editor: I Have a Dream: Scientific, Logical Regulation, Wall Street Journal, July 13, 2006; and Clyde Wayne Crews, Ten Thousand Commandments; An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State, Competitive Enterprise Institute, June 30, 2005.

    For text (subscription required): http://online.wsj.com/page/2_0048.html

    For CEI study: http://www.cei.org/gencon/030,04645.cfm

    For more on Regulatory Issues: http://www.ncpa.org/pd/regulat/reg.html

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 18 July 2006
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