Did I miss my calling as a government bureaucrat?

by WCE

Room for Debate:  Is VW Proof That Businesses Can’t Regulate Themselves?

I enjoyed this “Room for Debate” article on the necessity of regulation and strongly disagreed with Ian Adams. Companies are NOT going to regulate themselves well. The safety and environmental practices of oil companies in the late ’80’s and ’90’s, when oil prices were at an inflation-adjusted low, convinced me of that. No (Almost no?) company will lose money in order to comply with expensive regulations

However, compared to some countries, the US politicizes its regulation and forces particular geographic areas to bear the costs of federal regulation. (If we would allow removal of dead trees and/or limited logging on public lands, forest fires in the West might be less severe.) In China, the bureaucrats are all from one party, so they can focus on the technical, economic and social effects of their policies, rather than whether a particular policy will appeal to a party’s base.

In addition to understanding technical aspects of policies, regulators also need to be knowledgeable and to understand unintended consequences. In my opinion, they should be non-partisan. I can imagine an appropriate role for academics in drafting regulation, since they are less vulnerable to corporate volatility and profit demands than people employed by companies in competition with one another.

What skills would it take to become a good regulator? Would you have any interest in this type of career, or is regulatory policy so convoluted and partisan that real improvement is virtually hopeless?

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Interstates

by Honolulu Mother

My husband suggested this article for a Totebag topic:

How to Fix Our Interstates

The following are his comments on it.

“I found this interesting on several levels.

First, the article is in contrast to my father’s perspective on the interstate coming to Washington state during his coming of age as a driver. His claim was that many of the planners of the initial interstate build favored ring roads around the major cities, but that the merchants of the day overrode that in pursuit of tourist dollars.

Second, having commuted the “interstate” in Hawaii for several decades, I have often found myself stuck in traffic and wondering if the whole thing would move better if we added stoplights for through traffic and merging traffic at major choke points and treated it like any other major city street. Our highway in urban Honolulu is actually grandfathered under design requirements of the 60s. As I understand it, our upgrade options are severely limited short of bringing the system into compliance with current requirements.

Third, I lean libertarian and tend to agree that if we left transportation funding and decisions at the local level we would achieve better results. Under the current system, if a local government spends ninety cents in added costs for federal compliance to receive a dollar of federal funding it counts as ten free cents.

It’s traffic, folks, I know everyone’s bound to have opinions.”