I was asked the other day whether, since I write repeatedly about regulations that I think are bad, did I have a good opinion about any regulations.
Of course I do. Regulations are what government departments and administrative bodies create to implement laws that are passed by the legislature. So bad laws beget bad regulations, and good laws beget good regulations, mostly.
Justifications matter. So regulations that are for genuinely * public goods, or correct externalities that are difficult or hugely expensive to internalise, or to sustain basic ** rights, will get my initial approval but have to pass two more tests.
Results matter. So regulations need to create more benefits than costs, as a whole. They have to achieve the stated aim, and do so better than any other solution, and be auditable.
Incentives matter. So knock-on effects need to be taken into account – will regulation x have unintended consequences that increase its costs, or diminish its effectiveness? They often do, and this is where I tend to find fault with them.
* Often people nominate things as public goods when they are not.
** I think the scope of human rights needs to be curtailed. When rights become obligations on others to do something for you against their will, we have a problem. I will return to this in another post.