Market Failure and Government Failure

ethics_and_economicsby James A. Bacon

Jon Wight, a business school professor at the University of Richmond, is a huge fan of Adam Smith, best known for his classic economic treatise, “The Wealth of Nations.” Wight thinks Smith is one of the greatest economists who ever lived, not as much on the grounds that he championed “free markets,” as many conservatives might think, as on the way he built his economic theories upon a platform of morals and ethics, as articulated in his earlier, lesser known work, “The Theory of Moral Sentiments.” Not surprisingly, Wight makes frequent references to Smith in his own, recently published book, “Ethics in Economics: an Introduction to Moral Frameworks,” in which he outlines a moral framework for understanding markets.

Wight, a friend of mine, argues that is impossible to disassociate markets from the cultural and moral context in which they are embedded. In one chapter, “Moral Limits to Markets,” he argues that not all human relationships can, nor should be, market relationships. Relationships between husband, wife and children, for instance, are not, and should not be, conducted in accordance with market rules. Similarly, he argues against price gouging in times of crisis, discrimination on the basis of race and the commercial transaction of human body parts (made all the more timely by the recent revelation of Planned Parenthood’s commerce in fetal tissue). At bottom, his book is an argument for social justice and a retort to the “modern welfare theory” school of economics that argues that voluntary transactions between willing buyers and sellers maximizes consumer preferences and economic welfare.

The book is an easy read, spiced with lots of contemporary allusions, of an incredibly abstract subject, and I urge Bacon’s Rebellion readers of a philosophical bent to buy it. The book advanced my thinking about the moral context of economics immeasurably. If you’re too cheap to buy the book, at least check out Wight’s “Economics and Ethics” blog here. He doesn’t always reach the same conclusions I do… well, let’s say he often reaches entirely different conclusions… but I like the way he thinks. He acknowledges the complexity and nuances of issues. He takes the trouble to understand the arguments of others even if, in the final analysis, he doesn’t agree with them.

To my mind, if there was one philosophical flaw to Wight’s book, it is this: While Wight does a masterful job of dissecting “market failures” — they are many, and they are real — and while he does acknowledge parenthetically that many government fixes to market failures do themselves have flaws, he doesn’t give the same level of attention to the “government failure” as he does to “market failure.”

That is a very lengthy and roundabout way to get to the subject of today’s post. A new Cato Institute paper by Chris Edwards, “Why the Federal Government Fails,” struck a chord precisely because Wight’s book had sensitized me to the issue of market failure and I had begun thinking that someone needs to categorize government failure in the systematic way. Just as Wight provides a taxonomy of market failure, Edwards provides a taxonomy of government failure.

I cannot say it better than Edwards himself in his executive summary:

Most Americans think that the federal government is incompetent and wasteful. Their negative view is not surprising given the steady stream of scandals emanating from Washington. Scholarly studies support the idea that many federal activities are misguided and harmful. A recent book on federal performance by Yale University law professor Peter Schuck concluded that failure is “endemic.”

What causes all the failures?

First, federal policies rely on top-down planning and coercion. That tends to create winners and losers, which is unlike the mutually beneficial relationships of markets. It also means that federal policies are based on guesswork because there is no price system to guide decisionmaking. A further problem is that failed policies are not weeded out because they are funded by taxes, which are compulsory and not contingent on performance.

Second, the government lacks knowledge about our complex society. That ignorance is behind many unintended and harmful side effects of federal policies. While markets gather knowledge from the bottom up and are rooted in individual preferences, the government’s actions destroy knowledge and squelch diversity.

Third, legislators often act counter to the general public interest. They use debt, an opaque tax system, and other techniques to hide the full costs of programs. Furthermore, they use logrolling to pass harmful policies that do not have broad public support.

Fourth, civil servants act within a bureaucratic system that rewards inertia, not the creation of value. Various reforms over the decades have tried to fix the bureaucracy, but the incentives that generate poor performance are deeply entrenched in the executive branch.

Fifth, the federal government has grown enormous in size and scope. Each increment of spending has produced less value but rising taxpayer costs. Failure has increased as legislators have become overloaded by the vast array of programs they have created. Today’s federal budget is 100 times larger than the average state budget, and it is far too large to adequately oversee.

Management reforms and changes to budget rules might reduce some types of failure. But the only way to create a major improvement in performance is to cut the overall size of the federal government.

Bacon’s bottom line: All human institutions are flawed because humans are flawed. If you’re looking for utopia, you picked the wrong planet, the wrong species. Some institutions perform better in certain contexts, and others perform better in other contexts. In balance, though, we need to expand the scope of markets and shrink the scope of government.

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22 responses to “Market Failure and Government Failure

  1. Edwards covers this well. I would add what might be called a corollary to his argument: that government basically behaves like a monopoly. In fact, the federal government is, for all intents and purposes, a monopoly. You can see how this works when people move from one state to another to avoid the bad policies of the state they left. But unless they are willing to move countries, and some now are, you can’t just easily change your “supplier” of federal government services. Thus, the federal government is allowed to behave like a monopolist.

    • Bingo!!!

      And this is particularly so with what we now now “Progressive Government” which now, however, at lightening speed is morphing in the Old fashioned SOCIALIST GOVERNMENT of the sort and kind that ruined much of most everything in postwar (WWII) Britain. Now it is our turn apparently.

  2. Perhaps the final death knell for a competent US Federal Government was its unionization of Federal Employees back in I believe LBJ’s time (that may be incorrect).

    How can one build and maintain a competent government if all but a small portion of its employees cannot be fired or removed from the pay roll?

    Add this single factor into this article’s other comments and the federal government’s failure to competently do its job seems preordained, despite the many fine federal employees who struggle daily to make it succeed.

  3. well, there are 200+ “flavors” of government including more than 100 countries where govt is not only not a monopoly, but free markets do, in fact reign supreme – none of this weak-kneed “free market principles’ pablum.

    so we have”posers who do indeed want Utopia who want to eat BOTH their “free market” cake and their govt cake, but he don’t want to talk about the govt they take for granted and rely on .

    If you have a bee in your anti-govt bonnet and you really don’t like this flavor of govt and how it works -then I invite you to go to the country of your choice..(more than 160 superb and diverse choices) where govt is smaller and way less intrusive and the “freedom” to engage in commerce is .. well.. it’s virtually unlimited in those countries..

    So when I see sneaky terms like “free market principles” which is not really “free market” but instead a govt-regulated free market – we know it’s Free Market LITE. It’s really a bogus term – .. it’s basically how someone wants govt to work not no govt.

    we have the most robust commerce infrastructure on the planet. Its the fundamental basis of opportunity – mobility and freedom … but it requires great dollops of socialism like public roads, education, etc as well as those nasty govt satellites GPS/weather/mapping that circle overhead.. interstate highways – and govt loans for college and govt rules for insurance..

    Go to a 3rd world country and I bet the complaints about govt and freedom take a different turn.

  4. shall I make a list of the 150 countries for you to go down each one and cite it’s unacceptable flaws?

    Are you saying there are no countries without intrusive govt that are not anarchy?

    Let”s be honest. You’re not after the type of free market that you’re writing about.

    Do you think there actually is such a thing as a truly free market that is not “anarchy”.

    aren’t you saying that you need govt for the “kind” of theoretical free market you advocate for and you’re really not in favor of a real free-market because without govt it WOULD be anarchy?

    surely out of 200+ countries you could cite one or two that come closest to your preferred… no?

    can you go from theoretical to reality?

  5. The federal government is necessary to provide for the common defense; deal with foreign nations; and regulate interstate and international commerce. What those things mean can be debated by reasonable people.

    But what the federal government does poorly is to make economic decisions. It is terrible when contrasted to the market. I have no problem supplementing the market for extremely isolated and rural areas. Even Idaho needs interstate highways.

    But unless the federal government intends to operate a system itself, say radar systems to track flights, it should not be involved in the selection of technology, systems or equipment. The appropriate industry is better at those tasks. Regulated industries should be free to select their own technology, systems and equipment. Depending on the nature of the public interests involved and level of real competition, appropriate federal regulation of interstate and international commerce is appropriate.

    • Yes, and now the Federal Government is digging ever deeper into everything, including ever deeper into the daily lives of each and every individual, and the Federal Government is treating people very differently by whatever categories and standards the government arbitrarily chooses: who and what to prosecute and who and what not to prosecute, for example .

      We are at a very dangerous tipping point.

  6. LarryG
    You pose the effervescent false choice. No one says that you don’t need government. You need it to enforce the laws that provide the framework so free markets can operate: enforcement of contracts, etc. Government also needs to provide the things that the private sector can’t: police, fire, EPA (albeit not run nuts!), courts, roads, you get the idea. The point is that government does not have the proper incentives to behave other than as a monopolist would behave in providing whatever services are assigned to it, and so, paraphrasing Jefferson and others: “Be very afraid of your government”

    • Remember too that:

      ALL GOVERNMENT DECISIONS ARE MADE ON THE BASIS OF POLITICS.

      That means the most all decisions politicians make shift wealth and advantage from one group of citizens to another group of citizens in exchange for votes of those citizens getting advantages over other citizens and/or in exchange of political favors shifting advantages among political allies.

      That is a horrible way to run a business.

      It is also a horrible way to make wise decisions for an economy, a nation or its people, as a whole.

  7. Au Contraire – what do you get out of ”
    “Why the Federal Government Fails,”” ?

    let’s go through it:

    ” …. Edwards provides a taxonomy of government failure.
    I cannot say it better than Edwards himself in his executive summary:”

    so no… I’m not making a false analogy … Jim is saying it straight up.

    “Most Americans think that the federal government is incompetent and wasteful. Their negative view is not surprising given the steady stream of scandals emanating from Washington. Scholarly studies support the idea that many federal activities are misguided and harmful. A recent book on federal performance by Yale University law professor Peter Schuck concluded that failure is “endemic.” ”

    see… “most Americans… failure is endemic”.

    “First, federal policies rely on top-down planning and coercion. That tends to create winners and losers, which is unlike the mutually beneficial relationships of markets. It also means that federal policies are based on guesswork because there is no price system to guide decisionmaking. A further problem is that failed policies are not weeded out because they are funded by taxes, which are compulsory and not contingent on performance.”

    no tell me this is not about govt causing harm…

    “Second, the government lacks knowledge about our complex society. That ignorance is behind many unintended and harmful side effects of federal policies. While markets gather knowledge from the bottom up and are rooted in individual preferences, the government’s actions destroy knowledge and squelch diversity.”

    again – the is a direct attack on the fundamental concept of govt itself..

    “Third, legislators often act counter to the general public interest. They use debt, an opaque tax system, and other techniques to hide the full costs of programs. Furthermore, they use logrolling to pass harmful policies that do not have broad public support.”

    again – full-bore generic anti-govt rhetoric from the 100 proof Kool-aid folks.

    “Fourth, civil servants act within a bureaucratic system that rewards inertia, not the creation of value. Various reforms over the decades have tried to fix the bureaucracy, but the incentives that generate poor performance are deeply entrenched in the executive branch.”

    are there ANY govts on earth that don’t have this problem? Holy MOLY!

    “Fifth, the federal government has grown enormous in size and scope. Each increment of spending has produced less value but rising taxpayer costs. Failure has increased as legislators have become overloaded by the vast array of programs they have created. Today’s federal budget is 100 times larger than the average state budget, and it is far too large to adequately oversee.”

    more splat on the wall… talk about your all encompassing generic rants!

    this is the kind of anti-govt stuff you see today on sites like CATO – …

    “Management reforms and changes to budget rules might reduce some types of failure. But the only way to create a major improvement in performance is to cut the overall size of the federal government.”

    right – cut govt… … and I ask – name the ones that do this better and what does Bacon name ? out of 200 countries ? Hong Kong ..BEFORE ???

    In other words -no country on earth meets Jim’s requirements?

    So CrazyJD – can you list out a couple of countries that do the right combination of govt vs free market?

    “Bacon’s bottom line: All human institutions are flawed because humans are flawed. If you’re looking for utopia, you picked the wrong planet, the wrong species. Some institutions perform better in certain contexts, and others perform better in other contexts. In balance, though, we need to expand the scope of markets and shrink the scope of government.”

    wait one. Govt is flawed because people are flawed? What about the free market? Is that not flawed also – for the same reason?

    Bacon acts like Govt is some kind of infection in the wild .. rather than a creation of people.. And every law , every regulation is advocated – by a majority of elected … Bacon acts like it was a huge mistake by people who did not know.. ignorant folks.. who didn’t understand what they were doing!

    The problem I have with these kinds of narratives:

  8. re: Market failures vs Govt failures

    it occurred to me that these two while seemingly simple concepts – are not and further that the meaning may not be the same for each – either.

    which makes for gobbly-gook reasoning when trying to compare and contrast them.

    To my way of thinking – success in the free market is reward for efforts where-as success in govt is to make sure rewards are not in fact theft from others or that reward does not come at expense to others.

    the free market is adverse to risk – and will result in individuals and groups of individuals seeking to push risk onto others.

    so a couple of examples.

    making sure foods and drugs are pure and won’t harm others – is an extra cost.

    selling someone something that is economically a loss because it breaks long before it should – is not a concern of the maker as long as consumers don’t know it does.

    so what happens when food or drug poisons or a product breaks is that consumers go to govt for redress.

    Now – the free market folks see the use of govt to control their activities as wrong… a coercive intrusion into their affairs..

    so that’s what they essentially mean when they say “small, less intrusive” govt.

    and yes – there are all sorts of opinions as to “how much” govt should be or not be.

    but if you go back to the free market folks essential argument – that’s what it is. And they will seek – over and over to give examples of “overreach” while not saying much at all about the 90+ % of other issues where others were the unwitting victims of the free market and that led to regulation.

    The more modern and free a society – the more regulation there will be – not because there are nefarious folks running around who just love regulation – but because behind most regulation – there is a story about someone who was harmed as a result of another person’s activities.

    a truly free market is one in which every buyer has to be aware of every transaction and ignorance of the specifics of the transaction is solely the responsibility of the buyer. It’s not the job or mission of govt to intervene. Every involvement of govt is an intrusion. Every rule of Govt is coercion.

    If you put that premise to most people – you’re going to separate out the herd pretty quick.

    and what I find about the pro-free market folks – is that rather than honestly own the basic transaction premise – they seek to demonize the role of govt – to assert that govt should not be involved – because –
    then they list out all the flaws that govt has – and that becomes the justification for claiming the involvement of govt is – illegitimate.

    so the basic argument of most free-marketers is not entirely honest about what causes govt to become involved in transactions in the first place – because, in essence, they feel it is the job of the buyer to decide if a transaction is a good one or not – and not go running to the govt

    You could make that the argument – without demonizing the govt – to basically hone in to the truth of the basic argument of buyer and seller.

    So the free market folks are basically whining that govt is illegitimate as an arbiter of voluntary transactions.

    Oh they write books.. tons of books and mega tons of words .. but the simple truth is that the essence of the argument is – that voluntary transaction and from then on it becomes an argument of semantics.

    • I read the same thing you did, but I read it as “what goes wrong” rather than “everything is wrong.”

      We all fail, including the federal government, but that doesn’t mean everything we do is wrong. It does mean we need to look critically at what goes wrong, so we can do better.

      In general, I would tend to agree that at this point, the number and types of failures at the federal level have become a problem large enough to undermine its legitimacy. They tend to indicate problems related to excessive bureaucracy, lack of focus, regulatory capture, and a disconnect between rule making and the average citizen affected by the rules.

      Some pretty simple examples – the OPM hack, which was predictable and in fact was predicted.

      Social Security going after people to collect refunds from people whose PARENTS received benefits, decades ago, that Social Security has now decided were made in error. They were taking money from middle-aged people whose parents had received money decades earlier.

      New regs to regulate dishwashers to save water, that basically leave dishwashers unable to wash dishes. Maybe ruining dishwashers is not the most efficient way to save water.

      I would totally agree that there is far too much top down planning, with huge unanticipated consequences to people who were not the target of various rules and regulations. That is now the norm, not a surprise.

      Noting that government has gotten to the point that it is harming people is not a direct attack on government itself. It is a call to stop the harmful activities and refocus.

      Noting that government often acts contrary to the general public interest, furthering special interests, is not an attack on government itself. In fact, it’s a point YOU were making on the smart grid thread. Are you now one of the “100 proof Kool-aid folks”, as you put it?

      There are in fact fairly wide variations in how efficient civil servants are. Some are much better, and some are much worse. Noting the difference, and trying to improve things, isn’t being anti-government.

      Increasing complexity, and the difficulty working around that complexity, is something that is raised as a concern by government employees, not anti-government zealots.

      Problems with managing very large organizations are true of all organizations, not just government – and figuring out ways to help that, to split or resize is also true of all organizations, not just government.

      It’s not correct to claim that every law and every regulation is advocated by the majority. The problem we are having, more and more, is that a goodly chunk of laws and regulations are not supported by the majority, and the current structure makes it hard to get things back into focus. You want to have laws and programs that have a broad consensus of support, not laws that cause division and anger.

      Success in government is doing what citizens, as a whole, want you to do. National defense. Public schools. Roads. Police.

      Even doing things that people strongly want you to do, can be done wrong (defense contractors enriching themselves unfairly, stupid zero tolerance rules at schools, wasteful decisions on roads like 460, police brutality.) You need to have ways to control that and reign that in, or you lose legitimacy.

      The accurate observation is that, since we haven’t figured out a good way to reign that in, many of these functions are losing legitimacy.

      Most people who are concerned about how poorly government is working at various levels are not extreme libertarians who want to abolish the FDA and outsource drug reviews to Yelp.

      You have an awful lot of people who really don’t understand how Richmond City can simultaneously have schools that are falling apart, AND have a government that wants to build a baseball stadium, and a Redskins practice field, and a bike avenue on Floyd, and redo Main Street Center. Maybe it might make sense to spend less on niceities and actually have uniformly decent, structurally sound schools? So tell me what the people of the city have to do to actually make that happen, because AFAIK it ain’t happening now.

      That’s what about 99% of all people complaining mean when they say “small, less intrusive” govt.” Focus on things like schools and stop building baseball stadiums already. Build roads and forget about ruining dishwashers.

      A lot of regulation is driven by harms to people. Not all of it is. Even of the regulation that was driven by harms, not all of it is a net benefit. I don’t think that zero tolerance in schools is a good response. I think ABC has gotten too aggressive and militaristic in its enforcement. I think EPA’s rules for dishwashers are ridiculous, and their new runoff rules have facets that, to me, are pretty worrisome.

      The problem is, right now, it is relatively hard to push back against rules and policies and actions at any level of government, and almost impossible at the federal level unless you’re a billionaire. Looking at the scope of what we should be doing, and how we are deciding what to do, is pretty important if we want government to continue to have legitimacy.

      • Virginiagal2 –

        You are on a roll.

        Your kind of nuanced understanding and expression means commentary that is of a very high quality, and hence has great potential for moving the dials towards better collective understandings and positive solutions.

        It is Commentary that moves all discussions deeper, for deeper insights among people with ever broader ranges of perspectives, pulling them together, rather than yanking them apart.

        And that ultimately has a far better chance of moving people together to active solutions that work to solve and/or substantially dilute problems.

        This is a far better approach than clouding problems up with accusations (typically stereotypical and so erroneous and counter-productive).

        For this latter approach engenders anger and it pries people and groups apart. And does it is ways that thwart the opportunity of bringing them into more nuanced and interrelated understandings on which well constructed solutions based on thoughtful compromise can be reached.

        You are assembling and harnessing great positive energy here. For everyone’s collective good.

        I am impressed.

      • Well said, VG2. Sometimes I feel this blog generates exchanges that could benefit from more revising, more concentration on coherent points, a lot more pruning, a lot less shotgun blasts into the intellectual night. Then again, maybe that illustrates the difference between the federal government approach to decision-making and the private sector approach. And when the feds issue a 460 page analysis of/attack upon, e.g., coal fired generation, the only way to respond is point by point and the overall debate necessarily will be similarly bloated. As you say, “the number and types of failures at the federal level have become a problem large enough to undermine its legitimacy.” And then you graciously add, “we all fail, including the federal government, but that doesn’t mean everything we do is wrong. It does mean we need to look critically at what goes wrong, so we can do better.” Amen.

      • I think you get it backwards. I think government is doing exactly what people want.

        I don’t care if GDP is expanding at a 10% year-over-year pace or is contracting at a 10% year-over-year pace….Every poll I’ve ever seen (outside of war time) show that the voters’ number one concern by a mile is “economy/jobs”.

        And that’s where “conservatives” and “libertarians” miss the mark. They complain about gov’t not focusing on “core functions”, BUT….they buy into the “economics/jobs” argument as a function of gov’t (lower taxes, cut regulation, etc.) just as much as the left. Both sides pander to voters about ‘economics” and “job creation policy”.

        If people really cared about “core services” (education, public safety, transportation) at the state level, guess what? We’d have elections about education, public safety, and transportation.

        We NEVER have elections about such topics unless they become a momentary flashpoint. Rather….both sides…Rs and Ds always talk about the economy and jobs in every gubernatorial election I can recall. And looking at polling, that’s exactly what voters want them to talk about. Yes, the Redskins park is a disaster as are Richmond schools. But if there’s a City Council election and one candidate talks about schools and the other has a campaign about “jobs” and “moving the city forward”….I will guarantee the jobs candidate wins….and he or she wins conservatives and liberals.

        I might buy the “core services” argument if the people who mouth it actually didn’t make “economics” and “job creation” and “tax cuts” issues in elections. But they do. They don’t talk about real policy…..”What’s a better metric than the SOLs?” “Should we look at Uber as part of public transportation?” “How much education should we provide to inmates to try and reduce recidivism?” No…those “core services” policy discussions always, always, always…take a back seat to “jobs, jobs, jobs” in every election.

        You want to have politicians focus on “core services”? Then people need to stop talking about economics/taxes/jobs every election and talk about core services.

        • Core services? IMHO it depends. Depends on “flashpoints” as you say, but it seems to me they are frequently dominant, not the exception but the rule. “All politics is local” they say for a reason. The flashpoints these days seem to be social agenda issues like gay marriage and abortion as much as jobs, but I grant you, these days, at the national level jobs OUGHT to be the decisive factor. And I grant you, jobs shows up as the voters’ number one concern. But what doesn’t follow from that is any sort of political consensus about what to do or how a particular candidate will help or hurt the situation. Instead we debate the peripheral issues like immigration reform, in the manner of Donald Trump not Robert Samuelson. It’s those darned Hispanics cutting grass down the street that have ruined America, not our refusal to open our doors to the brain drain from the rest of the world. All politics is local.

  9. I have to admit, LTG does hit the core point here: “Govt is flawed because people are flawed? What about the free market? Is that not flawed also – for the same reason?” But that comparison really points up the difference. The government is about restraining free people. The free market IS free people trying, among other things, to find their way through and around those restrictions. Government and free markets may use similar structural methods to accomplish their goals but they are ultimately opposed forces.

    Now I don’t for a minute believe we can abolish government, or even adopt Libertarian minimalist government, without societal casualties and individual horror stories. We need an EPA, we need an FDA, we need zoning laws, we need restrictions on monopoly power. We need a social and medical safety net. We need to assume that government exists to perform a necessary function.

    But JB is right, there are things inherent in government that cause it to drift away from what is necessary into more personal waters. The tendency towards bureaucratic inertia and CYA and away from risk, abetted by the tendency of politicians to gratify constituents who want more freebies for less work, is something we all have to fight. Government is flawed because people are flawed. Yes.

    • ” The government is about restraining free people. The free market IS free people trying, among other things, to find their way through and around those restrictions. Government and free markets may use similar structural methods to accomplish their goals but they are ultimately opposed forces.”

      Let’s say you want to be “free” to sell a product – let’s call it snakeoil – and all you want to do is find your way around ‘restrictions’.

      “Now I don’t for a minute believe we can abolish government, or even adopt Libertarian minimalist government, without societal casualties and individual horror stories. We need an EPA, we need an FDA, we need zoning laws, we need restrictions on monopoly power. We need a social and medical safety net. We need to assume that government exists to perform a necessary function.”

      we agree

      “But JB is right, there are things inherent in government that cause it to drift away from what is necessary into more personal waters. The tendency towards bureaucratic inertia and CYA and away from risk, abetted by the tendency of politicians to gratify constituents who want more freebies for less work, is something we all have to fight. Government is flawed because people are flawed. Yes.”

      THe guy selling the snakeoil believes it is good for people but others say it has killed people. How to proceed.

      Origins of federal food and drug regulation

      Up until the 20th century, there were few federal laws regulating the contents and sale of domestically produced food and pharmaceuticals, with one exception being the short-lived Vaccine Act of 1813. A patchwork of state laws provided varying degrees of protection against unethical sales practices, such as misrepresenting the ingredients of food products or therapeutic substances. The history of the FDA can be traced to the latter part of the 19th century and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Division of Chemistry (later Bureau of Chemistry). Under Harvey Washington Wiley, appointed chief chemist in 1883, the Division began conducting research into the adulteration and misbranding of food and drugs on the American market.

      so my question is – where is the flaw?

  10. a little late coming back – I am not getting email notices when people respond.

    the problem with the anti-govt mentality is that it’s not one of majority agreement as specifics. Everyone seems to have their own examples.. like dish washer rules..

    so if you tried to tally up the top ranked lists of the most egregious regulations – they’d be all over the map.

    and this is far afield from the fundamentals espoused by the free market folks because the free market folks basically think most ALL regulation is wrong and so they’ll egg on anyone who has a specific complaint but few of those with their myriad govt complaints would find the free market that the doctrinaire folks are espousing – to their liking at all.

    your nutrition labels on food would go away. Octane on gasoline would be up to you to decide if it was good or not. there would be no ingredients on labels or if there were they would be whatever the manufacturer wanted to claim they were. Your tires would not be rated to certain loads and speeds. you electric wiring would not be to code. the roads would suck.. your grocery store would have no reason to keep refrigerated foods to certain temperatures and your restaurants would not be inspected. No – these are NOT hypothetical. THis is, in fact, how a majority of the world lives right now.

    these are all thousands of regulations that most folks take for granted even as they blather on and on about the ones they don’t like and those nasty govt regulations.

    People don’t want a truly free market… and they have no idea how govt compares of the 200 or so on the planet… much less the 150 below OECD standards.

    I’m not saying everything is honk dory – but the anti-govt mania these days in this country is just plain ignorant.

    Go spend some time in some other countries – no, not Somalia or Yemen.. how about the 140 between the OECD and the bottom 40?

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