The headline for next week’s edition of The Economist is “Over-regulated America,” with the subtitle “The home of laissez faire is being suffocated by excessive and badly written legislation.”
Sounds dramatic, but in reality the only things getting “suffocated” here are the facts about regulations. To be fair, this article does recognize (as few tend to do) that both parties in the U.S. are responsible for the growth of regulations — this is important to remember, but this falls short of achieving genuine balance given how consistently this piece goes on to misrepresent the relative weight of costs versus benefits of public oversight.
Take this passage, for example:
“A study for the Small Business Administration, a government body, found that regulations in general add $10,585 in costs per employee. It’s a wonder the jobless rate isn’t even higher than it is.”
Well, The Economist is right about one thing: it is a wonder that the jobless rate isn’t higher today — but that has a lot more to due with the fact that Congress seems physically incapable of passing the fiscal stimulus measures that we know are needed to make a real dent in the unemployment rate, and less to due with regulatory over-reaching.