Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The intellectual heritage of deregulation

A few weeks ago I posted From O' Canada to Oh My God Canada!, a summary of the changes to Canadian environmental regulations being pushed by the current Conservative government. What I hadn't previously realized is the close intellectual connection between neo-liberal Chicago School economics a la Milton Friedman and a particular style of jurisprudence and it's market based approach to regulation. Here, from Will Success Spoil the Chicago School? is the central idea:
It wasn’t just economics that Chicago revolutionized. Across campus at the University of Chicago Law School, scholars such as Ronald Coase, George Stigler, and Richard Posner were inspired to apply economic analysis to laws and regulations, developing a field that came to be called “law and economics.” It was law and economics types who promoted the now-conventional idea that the benefits of a regulation must be weighed against its costs. Placing a dollar figure on society’s valuation of a human life went from appalling to standard.

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