Obstructing Regulation And Regulatory Capture

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Libertarians side with capitalist obstruction of harm-reducing regulations, including deregulation. Addictive drugs (such as tobacco), clean air, workplace safety, pollution reduction, prohibition of lead and mercury contamination, food safety, global warming, etc. They seem unaware that reducing some harmful freedoms can result in huge benefits (including freedoms) for others.


The Asbestos Industry (1 link)
The asbestos industry suppressed information about the hazards of asbestos for decades, and has subsequently been facing enormous lawsuits over many thousands of deaths. All the while fighting regulation worldwide.
The Chemical Industry (4 links)
The chemical industry is one of the greatest evaders of responsibility and greatest concealers of important information. Their products are extremely dangerous and require strict regulation. The horror stories are all too frequent and real.
The Drug Industry (8 links)
Legal and illegal, medical and alternative, the drug industry is responsible for enormous numbers of deaths and addictions, extortionate prices, not to mention enormous amounts of fraud in alternative medicines. The drug industry is also one of the worst practitioners of regulatory capture.
The Financial Industry (3 links)
If there is any industry that has repeatedly proven itself to need regulation to prevent massive harms, it is the financial industry. It causes macroeconomic disruption, facilitates tax evasion, loansharks, defrauds customers in numerous ways, etc.
The Lead Industry (5 links)
The lead industry obstructed government regulation of lead in paint, water pipes and gasoline for more than 50 years after it was discovered to cause retardation. This resulted in millions of children poisoned by lead, a process that is still continuing because of ubiquitous lead paint in older houses. Major government efforts worldwide have greatly reduced the problem.
The Mining, Fossil Fuels, and Petrochemical Industries (3 links)
Mighty industries whose bought legislators have showered them with enormously profitable tax favors and sheltered them from environmental regulations. Much of the Koch wealth comes from these industries, which is why libertarian propaganda promotes fossil fuels and denigrates global warming, regulation, environmentalism, and renewables.
The Sugar Industry (3 links)
The sugar industry has engaged in a decades-long public relations effort to stack the scientific deck to prevent government regulation of sugar (including corn sweeteners, honey and syrups.) In addition, it has obtained enormous subsidies and restrictions of trade.
The Tobacco Industry (8 links)
The tobacco industry is notorious for its enormous public relations battle to preserve its ability to addict new generations of children. Science denialism, suppressed and secret research, legislative blockages, avoiding FDA oversight, and other tactics result in an industry that is still responsible for 300,000 US deaths per year and 5 million worldwide (growing rapidly.)
A Revisionist History of Regulatory Capture [More...]
Chapter 1 of Preventing Regulatory Capture. Conservative pessimism about regulatory capture is fostered by a myopic focus on economics. Regulation's focus is often on political, not economic, issues such as "the unprecedented influence of large corporations on politics". An excellent read.
ALEC (7 links)
The American Legislative Exchange Council, founded, led, and funded in part by the Koch brothers, is leading the class war by corporatists and plutocrats to disenfranchise ordinary people. ALEC opposes unions, voting rights, regulation, environmental law and other democratic countervailing power. ALEC relies on corrupt direct access to legislators, handing them already-written bills.
Charles and David Koch (40 links)
Libertarian billionaires who have founded and funded a vast array of libertarian and conservative organizations aimed at Obstructing Regulation And Regulatory Capture. Go to Kochtopus.
DDT (3 links)
The pesticide industry is attempting to blame Rachel Carson and her green followers for millions of malarial deaths because of "DDT bans". But in reality, that industry is responsible for the deaths because they have fostered pesticide resistance in mosquitos through indiscriminant sales of their pesticides. DDT has NOT been banned for public health use, only agricultural use.
Deregulation (35 links)
Libertarians routinely propose deregulating almost everything; mostly because they want to increase private power by limiting government, not because it makes sense. Deregulation may not solve the serious problems that initially led to regulation or it may undo regulatory capture. Most deregulation activity is part of corporate attempts at Obstructing Regulation And Regulatory Capture.
Does Direct Democracy Reduce Regulatory Capture? [More...]
"New research by John Matsusaka of the University of Southern California, however, suggests that the sequestering of economic policymaking from special interest influence may be precisely what direct democracy is for."
Does Environmental Crime Pay? [More...]
"With chemical products in particular, the producers have a unique informational advantage: since they create these substances, they know much more about the nature and risks of these products than any outside party." Two solutions proposed: whistleblower rewards and taxing gag settlements.
Insight: How Compounding Pharmacies Rallied Patients to Fight Regulation [More...]
Lobbyists for the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists defeated legislation designed to close the FDA regulatory loophole created by the Supreme Court in 2002. (The loophole has finally been closed in 2013, after a huge meningitis outbreak.)
Intellectual Property Reform (11 links)
Many others besides libertarians propose reform or abolition of intellectual property, in part because there has been substantial regulatory capture. Some libertarians oppose it ideologically because it is obviously a government creation, others scream "my property!" Many non-libertarians pragmatically question whether it actually advances the useful arts. When intellectual property expires, it is returned to the commons; thus shortening of terms is often desired. The US Constitution does not mandate intellectual property because even then it was controversial whether it was a net benefit. A good alternative has been public subsidy of research.
Patterson and Kehoe, and the great lead debate [More...]
How Robert Kehoe developed the strategy that the lead industry used to avoid regulation and liability over the course of decades of poisoning of millions. A strategy replicated for tobacco, innumerable other pollutants, and global warming denialism.
PolluterWatch [More...]
"PolluterWatch is a project of Greenpeace that holds polluters accountable for the work they’re doing to block the transition from the dirty fossil fuels of the past to the clean energy sources of the future."
Preventing Economists’ Capture [More...]
Chapter 6 of Preventing Regulatory Capture. The same standard economic incentives that drive regulatory capture should also result in capture of economists by business interests. Economists seem unwilling to admit they have the same problem.
Preventing Regulatory Capture: Special Interest Influence and How to Limit it (book) (2 links)
An extraordinary academic book which surveys history, defining, measuring, and solutions to regulatory capture.
Revealed: the free-market groups helping the tobacco industry [More...]
Free-market thinktanks around the world provide a powerful voice of support to cigarette manufacturers in battles against tougher regulations, a Guardian investigation shows.
Rooting Out Regulatory Capture [More...]
A 16 part series by multiple authors on the significance of regulatory capture.
The Alcohol Industry (2 links)
The alcohol industry is responsible for roughly 6 times more deaths than are due to violence. Taxation to raise the price and bans on advertising are very effective at reducing sales and demand. Worldwide, public health measures are reducing consumption.
The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive (book, online)
Dean Baker's online book describing how upwards distribution through markets is a result of government policy (due to capture by the rich), and how to change to more equitable polices.
The Risks of Unfettered Capitalism [More...]
"Capitalism [...] provides financial incentives to harm and even kill people. Just ask those people who say they have been victimized by cigarettes, predatory lenders, Volkswagen diesel emissions, Takata airbags, General Motors ignition switches, Trump University, Vioxx, asbestos or other products."
The Tax Prep Industry (2 links)
While libertarians complain about the complexity of filing taxes, they ignore that this feature is promoted by the tax preparation industry. Another example of privatizing profits by socializing costs.
This Just In: “Responsible Consumption” is Bogus [More...]
"While the responsible consumption myth offers a powerful vision of a better world through identity-based consumption, upon closer inspection, this logic harbors significant personal and societal costs.."


What’s curious is that conservative economists are well aware of the danger of “regulatory capture”, in which public institutions are hijacked by vested interests, yet blithely dismiss (or refuse even to mention) the essentially equivalent problem of democratic institutions hijacked by concentrated wealth. I take regulatory capture quite seriously; but I take plutocratic capture equally seriously.
Paul Krugman, "Sympathy for the Trustafarians"
As with much libertarian posturing what they say and how they act are two different things. The libertarians are owned (whether they know it or not) by a group of super wealthy capitalists (Scaife, Koch, Walton, Coors, Mars, etc.). They get their ideologically motivated followers to spew things about "free" markets and maximizing profits, but all this is a cover for their true agenda -- making them even richer.
Robert Feinman, commenting in "What obligation? Maximise what?"