MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

45 Percent of Americans Say There Is Too Much Government Regulation of Business

What's wrong with the other 55 percent?

RegulationsFilmfotoDreamstimeFilmfoto/DreamstimeA new Gallup Poll reports that "for the 12th year in a row, more Americans say there is 'too much' government regulation of business and industry than say there is either 'too little' or 'the right amount.'" More specifically: Forty-five percent say there's too much, 23 percent say too little, and 29 percent say things are just right.

While the streak is unbroken, this is down from the 2011 peak, when 50 percent believed there was too much regulation. Among Republicans, 68 percent now believe regulation is too high; only 20 percent of Democrats do.

I'm with the 45 percent. A study last year from the Mercatus Institute estimated that since 1980, federal regulations have slowed growth so much that economy is 25 percent smaller than it could have been. That means American per capita income is $13,000 lower than it would have been otherwise.

And federal regulators aren't the only impediments to betterment. State and local rules, such as licensing laws and land use controls, make it hard for Americans to leave low-productivity regions to enter booming job markets. One recent study calculated that without the excessive zoning restrictions U.S GDP would have been 8.9 percent higher, which translates into an additional $8,775 in average wages for all workers.

In January, President Donald Trump signed an executive order requiring that for "every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination." Some reports do suggest that the Trump administration has significantly slowed the federal regulatory juggernaut, whereas others point out the difficulty in making such assessments.

None of this means it is impossible for a regulation to provide more in benefits than it cost. But the data strongly suggest that we're well past the point of diminishing returns.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • BYODB||

    The problem with the other 55% is that they don't own a business or understand business.

  • sarcasmic||

    That's no necessarily true. I'm sure that plenty of people who fully understand business are totally in favor of regulation, when it is used to shut down the competition.

  • BYODB||

    Ok, well yes. There is that.

  • Tony||

    A question so laughably unspecific as to make respondents stupider by reading it.

  • sarcasmic||

    Kinda like your comments.

  • Tony||

    Oh gee didn't see that one coming.

  • sarcasmic||

    Yet you set yourself up anyway.

  • Chupacabra||

    Now, now...it's not nice to pick on the retarded kid.

  • Jerryskids||

    That's one benefit of the gig/internet economy - more people are running little sideline businesses out of their garage or basement and the regulatory state suddenly starts becoming a real presence. Just from my many years experience in construction, if you actually did things legit and by the book, nobody would make a dime in this business. Re-selling shit on E-bay or Etsy or whatever can be lucrative, but do you have a business license, file your quarterlies, collect sales tax, are you bonded and insured, have a zoning waiver that allows you to operate a business out of your home? I'll bet not. But I'll bet you've got a suspicion that you're supposed to.

  • Juice||

    But I'll bet you've got a suspicion that you're supposed to.

    *expected to

  • Tony||

    I know a guy who buys stuff at Ross Dress for Less and resells it on ebay for a profit. I mean, it takes legwork and effort, and there's nothing technically wrong with it, but it just seems kinda skeezy.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Seems like you could do the same thing via GoodWill which would be really, really skeezy, and your profit margin would be way higher.

  • sarcasmic||

    Not really. What about people who are no where near a store? They could still save themselves money by buying from that guy compared to their other options. Everyone wins.

  • Tony||

    Yeah, I'm certainly willing to pay a premium to have shit delivered to my door. These days the only things I go out to shop for are liquor and eggs.

  • KDN||

    With a still and two hens you could solve that problem. Then you could impart even more of your wisdom upon the cousinfucking racists that form the bulk of this fine board.

  • Tony||

    Looking into the chicken thing now that I have a yard. I can't find eggs that have any taste anywhere except when my friend was supplying me with them from her own hens.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Yard, what happened to the gated community?

  • What about Sloopy's mom?||

    By yard, he means 135 acre estate.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    While the streak is unbroken, this is down from the 2011 peak, when 50 percent believed there was too much regulation.

    It's the Trump-effect. He said he would drain the swamp, and man is he draining.

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: 45 Percent of Americans Say There Is Too Much Government Regulation of Business
    What's wrong with the other 55 percent?

    What's wrong with the other 55%?
    They're stupid enough to believe government regulation works in their best interests.

  • Tony||

    Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. Not everyone is an oil company CEO.

  • Uncle Jay||

    Not everyone works for the government.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Broadly speaking, it's a lot like cutting government expenditures. It's easy to say "the government should spend less money", "we should cut taxes" or "we should have fewer regulations" and so-on, but once you get into the details things get a lot murkier.

    Even this article only brings up two broad categories (zoning and licensing).

    Simple fact is that once you start talking about specific regulations a lot of that "to much regulation" crowd deals over to "well, *this* regulation is all right" or "who cares".

    And that's the challenge. Railing against vague concepts? Easy, and possibly effective for winning an election, can but not effective in actually changing things. Railing against specific regulations and laws? Difficult, unlikely to do much to sway an election, but might actually change things.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online