Harvard's Ferguson: Regulation Has Made Americans Dependent on Government

Wednesday, 19 Jun 2013 12:40 PM

By Dan Weil

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Regulation in the United States is out of control, making Americans overly dependent on the government, says Niall Ferguson, a Harvard history professor.

"Instead of joining together to get things done, Americans have increasingly become dependent on Washington," he wrote Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal.

"On foreign policy, it may still be true that Americans are from Mars and Europeans from Venus. But when it comes to domestic policy, we all now come from the same place: Planet Government."

Citing the annual study of regulations by Competitive Enterprise Institute's Clyde Wayne Crews, Ferguson noted that the 2012 Federal Register, the official regulation directory, now contains 78,961 pages, compared to 44,812 pages in 1986 and 2,620 in 1936.

"The last time regulation was cut was under Ronald Reagan, when the number of pages in the Federal Register fell by 31 percent," said Ferguson, who is also a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. "Surprise: Real GDP grew by 30 percent in that same period."

There are currently 4,062 new regulations in various stages of implementation, and Ferguson said Crews estimates they will cost $1.8 trillion a year.

"I wonder if all this could have anything to do with the fact that we still have nearly 12 million people out of work, plus 8 million working part-time jobs, five long years after the financial crisis began," he wrote.




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