Government regulation is a force that influences nearly every aspect of our daily lives. The intentions are usually well-meaning. They are created to fix a problem or a perceived market failure. The problem that we run into time and time again is that the fixes usually create another problem, while only putting a temporary patch over the initial problem. The response is usually another patch with the same result.
In the words of Nobel laureate George Stigler, “The trouble is that normally the way (advocates) want to solve the problem is to create either a new agency, or a new set of people with a new mandate, with more power and more resources. And my inclination is to say history hasn’t been very kind to that method of dealing with the problem. And I constantly want to see if I can’t build incentives in for private conduct to achieve these social goals. I don’t really know how to go up to OSHA year-in and year-out and say, ‘Be sensible and stick to the important payoffs- and don’t be frivolous; and don’t really worry about trifles.’ You know, that’s an admonition that doesn’t carry any weight or any power. And if somehow built into the bureaucratic system is a love of detail, how do I get rid of it?”
Listen to the debate go on between Stigler and consumer advocate Mark Green in the latest episode of the Free To Choose Media Podcast.