Do We Have Too Much Government Regulation?

Most references to government regulation are vaguely spoken and vaguely understood. The subject is important, as you will see--so important that some scholars of hugely influential reach weigh regulations, so to speak, how heavy they...Read more
Most references to government regulation are vaguely spoken and vaguely understood. The subject is important, as you will see--so important that some scholars of hugely influential reach weigh regulations, so to speak, how heavy they are--how many pounds they weigh-- in evaluating the health of the economy. Some time ago on this program, Jack Kemp, at that time secretary of housing under George Bush, told us that in order to build a house in California, one needed 14 different approvals from regulatory agencies. Imagine how many it must take to build an atom bomb. We have acknowledged that some regulations bump into other regulations and give us paradoxical situations. For instance, to the extent that we want to burn less motor fuel we have to have lighter cars. To the extent that we have lighter cars, more people get killed in accidents. So it's these paradoxes that we are seeking to explore here with our distinguished panel. Read less
Los Angeles, CA (Federal)
June 28, 2019
Submitted by: wfbjr

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William F. Buckley, Jr.
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Kenneth Arrow
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Susan Estrich
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Susan Estrich
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William F. Buckley, Jr.
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Jerry Brown
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Jerry Brown
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William F. Buckley, Jr.
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Jerry Brown
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William F. Buckley, Jr.
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William F. Buckley, Jr.

June 28, 2019

In the abstract I think we believe in the freedom of contract, do we not? Does that freedom of contract extend to any willing buyer and any willing seller, by which l mean concretely: Ought there to be a regulation that forbids a mother from allowing a five-year-old child to go out and stitch carpet, say, for 12 hours a day.  I think you have a position on that, don't you, Dr. Goodman? 

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Dr. John Goodman

Well, there is a line over which I would not allow mothers to cross, but I would give mothers far more freedom than they have today, and...Read more

Well, there is a line over which I would not allow mothers to cross, but I would give mothers far more freedom than they have today, and I would give local communities far more freedom than they have today. 

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Jerry Brown

Governor
June 28, 2019

As long as you have corporations that have far exceeded their historic scale, that have become not I0 billion but I00 billion, they are private oligarchies that determine the lives, the survival of species, the quality or lack thereof of democratic life, you need some kind of a power to either break them up or control them. And if... Read more

June 28, 2019

As long as you have corporations that have far exceeded their historic scale, that have become not I0 billion but I00 billion, they are private oligarchies that determine the lives, the survival of species, the quality or lack thereof of democratic life, you need some kind of a power to either break them up or control them. And if anything, big government is impotent in the face of the private accumulations of power that are not bound by the Constitution, that have no principle other than a narrow variable called return on investment, and in any respects are a total perversion of everything that Adam Smith and David Ricardo ever envisioned. 

So regulation in many cases is obnoxious. But their intent is to control this runaway aggregation of corporate power which is totally changing our way of life and ultimately wiII lead to destruction. So regulation is a temporary expedient until we can create a more human scale of organization.

The scale is totally different. Nothing existed in l776 like what we have today. Government regulation is a response to the inhumanity, the juggernaut quality of these alien institutions called corporations, and that's what it is. 

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William F. Buckley, Jr.

Well, can't we talk about the juggernaut quality of government? 

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Jerry Brown

Governor
June 28, 2019

Okav, look. I totally agree there are absurd regulations. Get rid of the absurd ones. I want to get it in the discussion, because there is a libertarian position, which I don't want to slight, in the ability to put anything in your mouth that you want, whether it's Interleukin or marijuana or some pesticide. So I... Read more

June 28, 2019

Okav, look. I totally agree there are absurd regulations. Get rid of the absurd ones. I want to get it in the discussion, because there is a libertarian position, which I don't want to slight, in the ability to put anything in your mouth that you want, whether it's Interleukin or marijuana or some pesticide. So I don't want to leave off that level of liberty, which I very much respect. So I want to put that point out, that freedom is crucial. But there is--because of the growth of private power, there is an influence on people that becomes excessive, and there has to be some way to balance it. The only thing right now is government. It has its weaknesses, but the challenge is to try to figure out a better way.

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Susan Estrich

I can find plenty of regulations that are stupid. I don't claim for a minute that I can't. 

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Do We Have Too Much Government Regulation? A Firing Line Debate

- Firing Line / Hoover Institution Archives