Regulations With Benefits

Posted by | October 20, 2011 12:48 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

I was relieved to see that the Republican presidential candidates did not complain about the cost of regulation in Tuesday’s debate.  I wish I thought that was because they saw the one-sidedness of that argument and its inherent weakness instead of the urge to bash Mitt Romney, but I’ll take what I can get.

In case they want to return to citing regulation as the primary roadblock to recovery, here is a nice piece from Jonathan Adler of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Not all regulation is bad, nor is it always more costly. And one of the ways to ensure that our safety rules are cost-effective is to use thoughtful cost-benefit analysis. So, I don’t quarrel with the president’s cost-benefit executive order, especially because it explicitly permits agencies to consider values that are difficult or impossible to quantify, including “equity, human dignity, fairness, and distributive impacts” in their cost-benefit calculations.

My objection is that many of those who insist on cost-benefit analysis have no interest whatsoever in making regulation more focused and rational. In their world, costs to business are the only measure; benefits to consumers somehow never make it to the table. Unfortunately, that’s misleading and unfair. Someone always pays.

And while the presidential candidates have temporarily left the topic of regulations, the House GOP has not.  They just passed a statute that would force the EPA to relax recently issued emission standards for boilers.  Regulations that would prevent 6500 premature deaths.  Regulations have costs.  They also have benefits.

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.

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