Regulation Magazine Offers Guide to Regulatory Reform

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Congressional proponents and critics alike claim theregulatory reform measures now before Congress are sweeping,radical, and effective. However, the proposed bills fail torepeal a single regulation. Contributors to the latest issue of Regulation (1995,no. 2) say those proposals are merely small first steps towardgetting control of the regulatory process. In TelecompetitionRevisited: An Agenda, Cato adjunct scholar Lawrence Gasman saysthat many so-called market-based reform proposals in fact keepthe federal government involved in telecommunications policy, forexample, by attempting to control content or mandating universalservice. But advances in hardware, software, and services have comein spite of government interference. Gasman says that rather thanadopt incomplete reforms, the federal government should leave telecommunicationscompletely to the market. In "Banking on Free Markets,"Catherine England of the Competitive Enterprise Institute assailsthe Glass-Steagall Act, which artificially separates commercialand investment banking, and the Bank Holding Company Act, whichrestricts banks from offering services such as insurance. England arguesthat those acts impose an unnecessary burden on America'sfinancial sector. Repealing them would strengthen the country's financial infrastructure,making it better able to meet 21st-century economic challenges.

In "Breaking Up the FDA's Medical InformationMonopoly," Robert M. Goldberg of Brandeis University arguesthat by controlling the acquisition and distribution ofinformation about pharmaceuticals, the Food and DrugAdministration hinders the creation of new drugs, pushing up healthcare costs and costing thousands of lives. Goldberg catalogs thestaggering human costs attributable to the FDA's attempts tosmother private production of medical knowledge. According to Goldberg, "Realreform requires questioning the FDA's mandate and veryexistence."

Jerry Taylor, Cato's director of natural resource studies,argues in Salting the Earth: The Case for Repealing Superfundthat "a Congress truly committed to rolling back governmentshould start with Superfund, a law widely acknowledged by environmentalists,businesses, and academics as the most flawed environmental law onthe books today." Despite Superfund's staggering cost — $30billion spent on nearly 400 sites — there is precious littleevidence that any good is being done.

Regulation senior editor Edward Hudgins takes aim atone of America's most sacrosanct employment discrimination lawsin "Handicapping Freedom: The Americans with DisabilitiesAct." Hudgins demonstrates that the vague definitions of"disability," "discrimination," and"reasonable accommodation" have placed huge,unnecessary burdens on businesses and local governments, often withlittle or no benefits for the handicapped. Hudgins reviewsemployment data that show that the act has not led to greateremployment of the blind, the deaf, and wheelchair users. Instead,the ADA has led to an explosion of lawsuits, making it a kind of"full-employment act for lawyers."