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Regulation and Regulatory Reform: Some Fundamental Conceptions

  • Warren J. Samuels

Abstract

The general perspective taken here can be briefly stated: regulation is a fundamental, not epiphenomenal, matter. It is part of larger social processes with respect to which it is both a determined and determining (dependent and independent) variable. Regulation has a dual nature: it both controls and protects, it both restricts and enhances opportunity sets, typically for different persons in each instance. Accordingly regulation is a relative, not absolute, phenomenon capable of being selectively perceived. It is deeply related to power structure: it governs and is governed by power. Power is at the centre of politics (law) and economics, and regulation is not sui generis in the legal-economic arena. The central problem is not whether or not there should be regulation or greater or lesser government. The juxtaposition of the market or competition to government or regulation typically if not inevitably involves one set of legal rights (regulation) being given a privileged position. The central problem is whose interests are to be promoted by regulation and how (insofar as interests conflict, some regulation receiving perhaps universal approval). Regulation functions to promote interests, in part by channelling radical indeterminacy, uncertainty and risk. The question is, who shall use government, including regulation, to advance their own interest. Finally, as will be seen below, regulation must be comprehended in the context of a general analysis of power and rights: private regulation is the alter ego of public regulation, the two are quite interdependent and regulation is a mode of, not antagonistic to, rights.

Keywords

Social Control Dual Nature Functional Equivalent Regulatory Reform Private Regulation 
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Notes

  1. 2.
    Warren J. Samuels, ‘Normative Premises in Regulatory Theory’, Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, vol. 1 (Fall 1978) pp. 100–14;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2a.
    and A. Allan Schmid, ‘Regulatory Policy: Literature Review’, Policy Studies Journal, vol. 6 (Summer 1978) pp. 555–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Antonin Scalia, in Paul W. MacAvoy (ed.), Unsettled Questions on Regulatory Reform (Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1978) p. 1. Thus, for example, Richard E. Wiley, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission 1974–7, reports that the commission ‘considered the term “deregulation” too controversial, and so we coined the phrase ‘re-regulation’ (p. 5). After leaving the FCC, Wiley became trustee of a group which distributed broadcasting industry campaign contributions to political candidates. See New York Times, 12 February, 1978, p. 29.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Warren J. Samuels and Nicholas Mercuro, “The Role and Resolution of the Compensation Principle in Society: Part One — The Role”, Research in Law and Economics, vol. 1 (1979) especially pp. 163–6. Reprinted below.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Warren J. Samuels 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Warren J. Samuels
    • 1
  1. 1.Michigan State UniversityUSA

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