The Right Coast

Editor: Thomas A. Smith
University of San Diego
School of Law

Monday, October 8, 2018

Social Engineering Via Cost-Benefit Fiddles

What regulators ought to take into account is the regulatory ratchet, the powerful tendency of regulation to beget more regulation. Regulations such as the EPA’s mercury rule almost inevitably cause a large, diffuse group to incur costs that it otherwise wouldn’t have incurred. Bearing these costs will strike members of this group as a problem about which “someone ought to do something.” If the “problem” is sufficiently salient, it will fuel calls for a “solution,” but the proposed solution will rarely take the form of repealing the regulation that caused the problem. Typically, it will take the form of additional regulation.


This from my colleague Mark Lee. I actually think this is a clearer explanation of the regulatory ratchet than any I remember reading before. RTWT.

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