Regulatory policy: some advice for government and business

by Donald B. Rice

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The vast increase in government social and economic regulation, and particularly the proliferation of issue-specific regulatory bodies, has involved the government in virtually every aspect of business decisionmaking. This enlarged government involvement with previously private decisions is carried out by several different agencies in a largely uncoordinated way. This makes the effort to achieve important social goals more costly and more conflict-ridden than it needs to be. The author recommends that the Executive branch take a stronger role. Recognizing that many regulatory goals are mutually conflicting or cannot all be achieved simultaneously, the President should make tradeoffs between goals and establish priorities. His office should have the power, subject to Congressional oversight, to harmonize such goals as pollution reduction, energy efficiency, price stability, worker safety, and product quality. This step, combined with more incentives instead of detailed regulations, could produce more sensible regulatory policy and better serve the public interest.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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