Government Reform

Richard Epstein's Medicine for the Continuing Crisis: "Deregulation Now"

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Writing in Forbes, the esteemed legal theorist and occasional Reason contributor proposes some New Year's resolutions for public policy. Excerpt:

If it's good enough for Motorhead, it's good enough for me

At this point, it won't work to reaffirm the deadly triumvirate that drives this misery: tax the rich, greater local control over real estate development and special privileges for organized labor. […]

On real estate, change the culture so that getting permits for yourself and blocking them for everyone else is no longer the preeminent developer's skill. The government can still prevent buildings from falling down and fund infrastructure through general taxation. But don't let entrenched landowners and businesses raise NIMBY politics to a fine art. Today our dysfunctional land-use processes too often build thousands of dollars and years of delay into the price of every square foot of new construction. The instructive requirements on aesthetics and handicap access should be junked, along with the crazy-quilt system of real estate exactions that asks new developments to fund improvements whose benefit largely belongs to incumbent landowners. And for heaven's sake, learn the lesson of Kelo and stop using the state's power of condemnation for the benefit or private developers. […]

First, do no harm. And yes, that includes cartoons with explanatory labels on each image.

State and local governments should never, repeat never, be forced to negotiate with local unions. The huge pensions garnered by prison guards in California or transportation workers in New York present the intolerable spectacle of requiring ordinary citizens to pay huge subsidies to union workers far richer than themselves. On the private side, don't force developers to hire union workers on construction sites or to block the construction of new facilities that hire nonunion labor. If unions are really efficient–and they aren't–let them compete like everyone else. […]

None of this activity costs the public a dime. All of it will increase tax revenues and reduce administrative expenses. The best test of a good policy is whether it is sustainable over the long haul. We know now that the progressive regime flunks this key test. At this point, all good libertarians can only take cold comfort that they have fought these destructive policies tooth and nail.

Link via Instapundit.