Overregulating and Underregulating at the same time

While this blog post by Matthew Yglesias in Slate touches on the political, it clearly shows how policy is much more complex than party political divisions suggest. The article argues that within the U.S. we have too much regulation at the local level and not enough of major environmental problems at the national level. The example provided of local zoning creating an unnecessary regulatory barrier connected nicely to Jill Gaito’s presentation where she highlighted that shift away from restrictive zoning as part of PA’s brownfield development policy.

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2 Responses to Overregulating and Underregulating at the same time

  1. critzerm says:

    This article I think does a good job of alluding to the problem of how partisan politics can cloud understanding of policy and block meaningful policy change. Much like the author, I’ve seen how regulations on the small business level can be crippling but I am certainly for a stronger environmental stance nationally. There are a couple of reasons why I think this discrepancy exists. The first is issue framing- for most people, if you aren’t completely in favor of “deregulation” then you are completely in favor of regulation, regardless of how burdensome it is. This sort of thinking tends to inflame people’s political tempers and productive conversation rarely can come of it. I come from a conservative town back home and often I find that people do in fact connect their small business woes to “Obama’s big government.” My own brother will say to me “we need less regulation,” and I say what regulation? Where? By whom? Its just way too broad a statement to be meaningful. I like that this article shows that its more useful to consider regulation on a case by case basis because people of all kinds can probably agree when a particularly stringent or nonsensical rule needs to be changed, but when we try to extrapolate individual problems into abstract judgments about regulation we get nowhere.
    Additionally, the reason why the harsh regulations are restricted to the lower level governments is also probably in part due to the fact actors on the state or national stage are just too big and influential. Business is deeply embedded in Washington politics and bigger businesses have more money to litigate and defend themselves from what they see as unfair regulation. Therefore, just by diffusion, more disproportionately strict regulation happens on the local level where those affected are either less knowledgeable or less able to resist it.
    In any case, I thought this article’s breakdown of one example to another was refreshing since policy-making really is a complex process with a huge amount of variation and needs to be treated that way more often.

  2. Nicky Tynan says:

    I agree with your emphasis on the complex process of policy making. You are right that we aren’t likely to end up with good policy decisions if we have a single view of all regulations as either good or bad.

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