Bad Government Made Worse

Just the thing to brighten your morning — the Bush administration tackles the problem of political hacks having insufficient control over regulatory policy. You, too, were probably sitting at home thinking “government regulations are proffered with too much professionalism and deference to expert opinion, our lobbyists paid for this administration and yet we don’t have 100 percent control over the process.” Then came Bush ready to save the day.

Portions of the article, meanwhile, reads like a dispatch from the 2001–2003 era of Pravda-style reporting from our beloved friends in the newspaper business. “Business groups welcomed the executive order, saying it had the potential to reduce what they saw as the burden of federal regulations,” writes Robert Pear, “this burden is of great concern to many groups, including small businesses, that have given strong political and financial backing to Mr. Bush.” He couldn’t find even one example of a gigantic corporation that might benefit from a lessening of this burden? Earlier in the article he reported that “business executives and consumer advocates said the administration was particularly concerned about rules and guidance issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.” Is all of that unfair EPA crackdown on people who pollute too much really just burdening the small businesses? Mom & Pop’s general store? The bed and breakfast up the road? Really?

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The narrow point here, clearly, is to make money for Bush’s donor base. As is often the case, however, the administration seems determined to broadly demonstrate the conservative case against activist government through its own malice and incompetence. Bush is giving us all a nice lesson in public choice economics.