Regulation Magazine Offers Guide to Regulatory Reform

Congressional proponents and critics alike claim the regulatory reform measures now before Congress are sweeping, radical, and effective. However, the proposed bills fail to repeal a single regulation. Contributors to the latest issue of Regulation (1995, no. 2) say those proposals are merely small first steps toward getting control of the regulatory process. In Telecompetition Revisited: An Agenda, Cato adjunct scholar Lawrence Gasman says that many so-called market-based reform proposals in fact keep the federal government involved in telecommunications policy, for example, by attempting to control content or mandating universal service. But advances in hardware, software, and services have come in spite of government interference. Gasman says that rather than adopt incomplete reforms, the federal government should leave telecommunications completely to the market. In "Banking on Free Markets," Catherine England of the Competitive Enterprise Institute assails the Glass-Steagall Act, which artificially separates commercial and investment banking, and the Bank Holding Company Act, which restricts banks from offering services such as insurance. England argues that those acts impose an unnecessary burden on America's financial 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 Information Monopoly," Robert M. Goldberg of Brandeis University argues that by controlling the acquisition and distribution of information about pharmaceuticals, the Food and Drug Administration hinders the creation of new drugs, pushing up health care costs and costing thousands of lives. Goldberg catalogs the staggering human costs attributable to the FDA's attempts to smother private production of medical knowledge. According to Goldberg, "Real reform requires questioning the FDA's mandate and very existence."

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

Regulation senior editor Edward Hudgins takes aim at one of America's most sacrosanct employment discrimination laws in "Handicapping Freedom: The Americans with Disabilities Act." Hudgins demonstrates that the vague definitions of "disability," "discrimination," and "reasonable accommodation" have placed huge, unnecessary burdens on businesses and local governments, often with little or no benefits for the handicapped. Hudgins reviews employment data that show that the act has not led to greater employment 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."