Conor Friedersdorf interviews me on the regulatory state and the pandemic

For Atlantic, here is one excerpt:

“Our regulatory state is failing us.”

And to troll some of you, here is another bit:

Friedersdorf: Libertarians and small-government conservatives are highly skeptical of the regulatory state. What do they get wrong?

Cowen: Very often, the alternative to regulation is ex post facto reliance on the courts and juries to redress wrongs. Of course, the judiciary and its components are further instruments of governments, and they have their own flaws. There is no particular reason, from, say, a libertarian point of view, to expect such miracles from the courts. Very often, I would rather take my chances with the regulators.

Also, let’s not forget the cases where the regulators are flat-out right. Take herbal medicines, penis enlargers, or vaccines. In those cases, the regulators are essentially correct, and there is a substantial segment of the population that is flat-out wrong on those issues, and sometimes they are wrong in dangerous ways.

Recommended, there is much more at the link.


Wait, who is in the wrong?

Not Nate Dogg and Warren G. They had to regulate.

That's a great song!

This website is highly entertaining trolling 24/7/365.

Exactly. The research on medical malpractice lawsuits does not inspire confidence that the American court system is capable of rendering reasonable outcomes when cases that involve complex medical and scientific issues come before them. This should lead one to be a bit more sympathetic to the FDA's mission. They just need to strike a balance between encouraging innovation and protecting the public from harm. Determining what that balance is will never be an exact science.

It really is much, much more sophisticated than this. Regulation is not some uniform good which can only be acquired in two sizes "what we have" and "none".

There is also "less regulation" and "better" regulation.

Equally importantly, it is shocking that he thinks that micro-examples of regulatory success justify all regulations. Certainly everyone knows that modern regulation is a trade off and no one denies that there are some benefits to even the harshest and most misplaced of laws. Eliminating free speech for example might also address the problem of too much noise. But it is a dumb way to do it.

Modern medical regulation for example is a travesty - designed by those who benefit from its failings. The result is a dysfunctional system that loots people, enriches industry participants and pumps out drugs instead of health - but it is all good because it stopped herbal remedies?

But at least he doesn't seem to be claiming he is a libertarian.

Regulation of medical practice and payment is captured by moneyed physician and hospital interests.

However, regulation of medical *products* is quite good and done by the FDA. They have done great work in ensuring the US offers the fastest regulatory review of lifesaving drugs compared to other systems in the world. They also do a lot of stuff Tyler mentions that nobody usually sees--getting snake oil off the market, stopping stuff that could kill people and generally serving a public health mission (e.g. tobacco regulation). Everything they regulate is directed by Congress of course within the bounds of federal statute.

It is working as designed. It is designed to create drugs that are phenomenally expensive, and designed to impede development and testing in a pandemic. Tobacco was a political change, not regulatory. Why are they going after vaping by the way?

With the administrative state Congress has abdicated its authority and lodged it with the FDA. Like any bureaucracy, the FDA tries to expand its authority even beyond the ridiculous amount it already has, which is why it was slapped down for illegally regulating tobacco, and as a result Congress was forced to do its job for a change.

As I believe Sidney Hook once observed, when markets fail, it's an indictment of all markets: when governments succeed, it's a vindication of all government.

> the alternative to regulation is ex post facto reliance on the courts and juries

It's not one or the other, it's both. Laborious and expensive regulatory compliance doesn't shield anyone from unpredictable and expensive litigation. It's the worst of both worlds.

Well, there should be laws where if you comply with a regulation you can’t be sued. I’d much rather know ahead of time exactly what I can and can’t do then potentially be sued for such vague things like “negligence.”

My understanding--and bear in mind, IANAL--is that regulatory compliance at one time DID insulate you from tortious liability. No less a man than Alan Greenspan, in /Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal,/ used this as an INDICTMENT of the regulatory system, as he believed that it was nonsensical as a legal doctrine, being in essence a reversion to the old "Hey, just following orders!" defense.

> at regulatory compliance at one time DID insulate you from tortious liability.

You are never 100% insulated, but yes, if you build to the building codes, you are generally fine. Builders like building codes, electricians like electrical codes, car makers like automotive rules and regs, and on and on. All disciplines spend a lot of their time defining the rules and regs for precisely that reason.

every major liability suit I am aware of - the type with headlines, brand names, and really big settlements - involved direct deliberate and long term malfeasance by the defendant. usually in the form of hiding evidence, lying to customers and regulators, and continuing to distribute products long after it became apparent to insiders that they were hurting people.

people who complain about the tort system invariably skip over this fact

Not "involve" but "allege." Don't turn allegations into assumptions.
And no jury verdict creates a presumption that allegations have been proven. (The jury pool in many areas include the same people now "protesting.")

lol. corporations that knowingly kill people: due process. Afghani peasant in the wrong place at the wrong time: lock them up without trial. Black guy who stole a cigarette: extra judicial assassination.

It's interesting that so many self-proclaimed libertarians don't trust juries, yet fail to see the irony. Sorta like Ayn Rand, who demanded freedom and dignity for individuals, but turns out she meant only for those individuals that Dagny had sex with.

So what are you suggesting? More police officers with more power and immunity to choke people?

The people making the most consequential decisions have the least accountability. Regulation is a process where bureaucrats who are never fired fight with judges who are personally unaccountable make decisions that have a bearing on everyone's life.

Regulations at one time came from people who had skin in the game. Insurance companies for example. The Hartford loop is a piping design to prevent steam boilers from destroying homes, came from an insurance company. The installation and maintenance codes, such as electrical code are in response to events; practices and materials are mandated to avoid accidents. The manufacturers and installers, as well as other interests are involved to prevent harm.

Every regulation is a cost, a hidden tax. Interestingly much of that tax can be avoided simply by relocating outside the country. That shows how utterly useless the regulatory structure is.

Strawmen and myths.

Food regulation was not put in place becuase Armor meats wanted to protect their customers. it was put in place because food makers were shipping out products that were unsafe, rancid, included dangerous diluting ingredients, and were not made of the ingredients they claimed to be.

Regulation is indeed increasingly useless. But not because of mythical all-powerful bureaucrats, but because it was captured by the people who were supposed to be regulated.

Do you mean the tort system that, at long last, relieved the world of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder, which had been killing uncounted thousands for more than a century? That tort system?

Please explain your post. You seem to be blaming the tort system for J&J's conduct. Under that logic, I suppose the tort system should be blamed for cigarettes too.

Good points, but I do not think the regulatory state per se is the problem. It worked pretty well in South Korea, Formosa and Brazil, to name a few examples. I think the issue is Trump's toddlersque nature so to speak. What is supposed to be accomplished by banning travellers from Brazil for instance? I think we, the American people, should demand better leadership from our leaders. In Brazil, the Army produced millions of chloroquine pills. Meanwhile, America's Navy has basically been put out of commission by the so-called coronavirus.

Of course. Look, Tyler does not like government regulation as a general matter, but he did not have this "the regulatory state is failing us" comment every 5 minutes in the Obama administration. That is because leadership matters and gov works pretty well (e.g. H1N1, ebola) when it has good leadership.

Today, the federal government is "led" by Trump, but it is managed by thousands of his political appointees embedded in every federal agency. These appointees have no cohesive vision and many lack basic expertise skills for their jobs. When the federal government is required to react quickly and address new challenges, these political appointees direct that response and they have utterly failed in setting a direction. It doesn't help that Trump has put Jared in charge of a lot of strategic stuff he has no understanding of but this administration eliminated the entire White House global health and biosecurity team that could have coordinated a better and faster response. This has happened across all corners of the federal government.

When Tyler talks about the "regulatory state" he should think a bit harder about who exactly he is referring to.

Yes, I generally don’t like regulation either, but if we’re going to have regulation, I’d much rather have it administered by competent people. All these regulators who are failing us were all appointed by Trump, and this administration prizes ideological fealty over competence like none other before it (in one example, they tried to appoint someone who did not even know basic concepts about how a lawsuit works to be a federal judge: - you never heard of stories like that under Obama).

> you never heard of stories like that under Obama

Are you high? We have Obama appointees in the supreme court that have argued in throwing out the entire concept of justice being blind and replacing it with favored interpretations for depending on who you are and who you know. Aka the "wise latina" view of the law. Whcih is different from the "wise italian" and "wise Jew" and "wise black" view of the law I guess.

A freaking supreme court justice stating that laws depend on who you are and what you've done. Try again.

Why are you responding seriously to Thiago's trolling? I guess birds of a feather flock together.

Then the fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves. As voters, we ought to demand more from our leaders.

When you look back at all the excuses that were invented for why we shouldn't just impeach this guy .. we are a stupid nation.

How many institutions has your side corrupted and how laws broken trying to find an impeachable offense? Look in the mirror.

You just refuse to believe I am a registered Republican, who identifies as independent, because it "does not compute."(*)

And sadly, what afflicts you probably is what afflicted all those sane-seeming Republicans who made sane-seeming arguments that "we can't impeach without a crime" and then "oh, that crime doesn't count."

It might have been sane-seeming, but it was in retrospect, stupid.

* - history might judge me as a center-right never-Trumper.

Bonus link to an apparently legit and open Twitter survey.

"and then "oh, that crime doesn't count." Again, name the crime. You'll be the first.

actually Tyler endorses the complaint that the regulatory state is impervious to executive or legislative influence, ie that political appointees and budget setting don’t matter

Just another way to pretend "this isn't happening."

I think corruption is the key factor. Brazil's President Captain Bolsonaro is known to run a clean ship while Trump is notoriously corrupt.

I didn't vote for Trump either, but was there a candidate who was less "notoriously corrupt" in 2016? Who would have rolled up the sleeves and flushed the supernumerary desk jockeys and overbearing hacks out of the NIH and all its sub-agencies in anticipation of a moment just like this?

The last president I can imagine who MIGHT HAVE set goals and pushed them, hard, was Eisenhower. I've been thinking that Bloomberg, bossy and arrogant as he is, got out of the race too early.

We treat a presidential election as a popularity contest instead a search for an able manager with good judgment. We are not serious people, and it shows.

Don't you rhink if we, like Brazil, had elected a national hero instead of a reality TV star?!

> What is supposed to be accomplished by banning travellers from Brazil for instance

Taiwan and Australia has banned everyone from entering still. Assuming Taiwan opened their borders tomorrow, do you think THEY would let Brazilians in? Not a chance. It makes 100% sense to limit travel from places that are doing much, much worse than you.

Why is that hard to understand?

"Not a chance. It makes 100% sense to limit travel from places that are doing much, much worse than you.

Why is that hard to understand?"

Brazil has actually experienced much fewer deaths than Bazil. Is today's anti-Brazilian rabble-rousing any different from 20th Century anti-semitism? At this point, is America any better Nazi Germany?

Because the character of Thiago (and his other aliases), who lives in a (virtual) favela in Rio, is just here to troll as an uncritical booster of all things Brazilian.

I do not know what you are talking about. I do not think it is uncritical in the least to say that we would be way better of with a wiser, more public-spirited leadership, fewer deaths and a kinder, gentler America.

"Because the character of Thiago "

I miss Thiago, he was funny. The new aliases are boring and dumb.

Instead of the courts and legal system, more and more businesses use independent arbitration.

Independent is not what more and more businesses are expecting when choosing and paying the arbitrators.

Why do small government conservatives like Trump use the heavy hand of big government to censor social media outlets they don't like?

Given the evidence of the last three years' spending Trump is anything but "small government". Trump makes the same mistakes as neverTrumpers, thinks he can tame the beast/blob when irradiation, through far lower government spending, is the only solution.

Because there are very few “small government conservatives.” The vast majority of conservatives have no problem with big oppressive government—as long as it is targeting people they don’t like.

i saw a small government conservative once. he was in a display at the ripley’s museum.

one day they ask the guy if he could get one thing what would it be. and he says: “someone force the guy in the room next to me to shut the hell up.”

There was a pretty large group of small government Republicans - the Tea Party. Obama corrupted the IRS to attack them, and the big government Republicans went right along with him.

Trump? A small government conservative? That's hilarious.

He's too busy draining the swamp to reduce the size of government

Trump is definitely not small government. I'm glad he's for less regulation, but he's a Dem when it comes to spending.

The people questioning whether Trump is a small government conservative are reminiscent of Communists who insist that pure Communism has never been tried anywhere.

The reality is that in 2019, non-defense discretionary federal spending as a percentage of GDP was 3.1%. The only other time it has been so low in modern history is 1999 -- every other year since 1962, it has been higher.

As to why overall government spending isn't at historical lows, I think everyone knows the answer but it is due almost entirely to entitlement spending. If you want to rail against Trump for not reigning in entitlement spending, go ahead, but keep in mind he won the election on the thinnest of margins and would almost certainly have lost had he proposed significant cuts to Medicare or SS. Hell, if he does so now, he's handing the election to Biden. There is zero appetite in the real world for libertarian or conservative fantasies about slashing entitlement spending.

No change in trajectory from the Obama Years -

Indeed the drop was more rapid under Obama.

Barack Obama: Small Government Conservative. Apparently.

(And supposedly Bill Clinton too if you go by 1999 as a benchmark).

George W. Bush won despite an evil neoliberal plan to privatize Social Security. Yes, he also expanded Medicare, so it's definitely an uphill climb, but the day of reckoning for the federal government's Ponzi schemes will come sooner or later, and the sooner the better.

If someone is acting in bad faith, and claiming to be unbiased when they are not, and they are of sufficient size to sway the elections, then their contributions should be treated as an in-kind donation.

When Twitter doesn't fact check an assertion from the dems that is obviously false, but does fact check an assertion from the republicans that is obviously correct, how is that not a political contribution to one candidate?

As I commented at another Cowen post, Cowen's views about the failure of the U.S. regulatory state, as reflected in his interview by Friedersdorf, are similar to the views expressed by Francis Fukuyama. Americans' distrust of government has lead to the worst possible regulatory system, one that is rule-based rather than goal-based, one that is dominated by money and special interests, one that America got because it's the one Americans wanted, weak and prone to capture. While it's true that the regulatory state under Trump reflects Trump's own incompetence, the regulatory state in America has long suffered from Americans' distrust of government, which itself is a reflection of Americans' distrust of each other. The difference between libertarian and anarchist is only one of degree.

"...reflection of Americans' distrust of each other..."
Blaming the people is the most un-democratic and un-productive thing one can do. People get the government they deserve. Presidency is not about competence, but about popularity and optics.

That one degree is the most important thing for modern humanity: property rights (of the person and material goods). It's what separates Somalia from Singapore.

*the above was a response to rayward #11.

Hahaha. Nice endorsement of gun control. Does anyone else know of any other penis enlargers that are dangerous?

If you are insecure about your penis, just point your gun at it. All the cool kids on social media are doing it.

The MR comments section.

As someone who had his(*) product signed off by the FDA, I viewed them as well meaning, a bit bureaucratic, but willing to adopt new situations.

* - I was just starting out. I was a junior member on the team. We were developing computerized(!) clinical instruments. The FDA itself was learning at the time. For the most part we would file results, but periodically they would come in to review designs, and even read our code. They were most concerned that we were following our own stated procedures. And ultimately they were satisfied with what we were doing.

This idea of having your own standards and following them was later formalized into ISO 9000. Those certifications were a PITA, and there is where you might start to get into standards and regulations trade-offs. You want quality for anything you do, but how much formalism is required? What is the difference between enough and too much?

Bottom line, I certainly reject that anyone doing quality work has to fear regulators, or that they are out to get you. They are out to get the guy doing shoddy work, and who knows, he might even be the one complaining most about "government regulation."

Anecdote for anecdote.

Three years ago a municipality had 3 fatalities in their ice rink. The story is a bit long, but it started with the contractor telling the municipality that the chiller component was close to the end of it's life cycle and they should budget for a new one, here is a budget number. It was put on the list of projects, bumped till next year twice until a consultant hired by the municipality to meet municipal administration requirements produced a status report on their infrastructure, stating that the chiller equipment looked good, was well maintained and could run for a long time yet. So the budget proposal fell off the list.

A few years later, there were indications of an ammonia leak, and a bunch of pricing was acquired but these things take a long time, so they started the plant the next fall. Curling and hockey schedules were paramount.

That night the fire department was called out due to a leak. A member of the building staff came down, and isolated the leak, they went home.

A contractor was called, he arrived first thing in the morning, he and two members of the staff were in the mechanical room when it let go, killing them immediately. The leak isolation created the situation that killed them.

The two regulatory agencies who were supposed to oversee these things, who every year signed off on a permit to operate got an increase in budget and added powers to do the job that they didn't do when it mattered. The net result has been to go after other municipalities who had similarly old equipment, forbid operation until the problems are fixed. The contractors were blamed, but the contractors were not involved in the budgeting and startup. Hours and hours of time have been spent by mandate from people who, their words, have no idea how these things work and how to do things safely.

Regulatory agencies failed catastrophically, as did a municipal government. They get money, resources and power. They use it to waste the time of everyone else.

The funniest thing about this saga is during the fuss after the accident, people were wondering why was this terrible toxic chemical used in public facilities? Someone piped up and suggested they read the Paris Accord that just a few weeks ago were enthusiastically applauding for saving the world, which incidentally mandates the use of 'natural refrigerants' such as ammonia and hydrocarbons.

This is the epitome of absurd. A government agency with powers of taxation can't do their job, the agencies supposed to keep an eye on them don't, far away brilliant minds come up with solutions that force these things on these incompetent organizations.

And I am the problem.

By the way, how much regulatory costs are avoided by moving production of the things you were involved in offshore?

If I'm to take your story at face value, a crucial turning point was a consultant under contract telling them the equipment was fine when it wasn't.

A government agency with powers of taxation can't do their job,

The municipal government operated the rink every year. What their staff failed at doing was correcting an unusual problem. This particular news story indicates that injurious ammonia leaks happen once or twice a year in Canada, and that leaks with fatalities are so rare this is the only one known.

It's almost never about establishing or limiting quality, as it is about profitability and/or litigation. Will this make money based on the amount of red tape? Will the one person (estate) I kill sue me even though I saved five and they all knew the risks, based on current regulation. The ideal is buyer-beware jungle state with the 20-page risk waiver.

In cases where regulators are right, could not Congress also pass laws banning interstate trade in such products?

This might be a little off topic, but when reading about the George Floyd case last night I came across this link on Cato (which tbh I don't usually read. Maybe I should). The piece says:

"Make police buy liability insurance like doctors and lawyers.
The worst offenders would be quickly identified and charged higher rates. If they failed to clean up their act they would eventually become uninsurable and thus unemployable."

It was written in 2018 so maybe it has already been discussed on this site.

I have some physicians in my extended family.

When contemplating a medical procedure, I inquire about the available doctors. The reply is usually: "don't use so-and-so; everybody says he's a hack and they wouldn't trust him."

By 'everybody,' they mean fellow physicians, the insiders. They all know who the hacks are, yet the hacks are still practicing without official (or regulatory) censure. Only people with inside access are granted a peek into the shadow peer rating system.

These same physicians bitch and moan about the malpractice system, without the slightest sense of irony.

So what do you propose? Some government hack choose who you can go see, or who is a "good" doctor? You must work for the government to have such faith in them.

No. Try again.

This is an argument for why we have a malpractice liability system. And for why many of the people who whine about it are morons.

I'm afraid that is a hard one for right-ish blogs on the political economy to straddle. They can't talk too much about the current state of affairs, while maintaining the fiction "this is not really happening(*), vote anti-progressive 2020."

* - or the other inherent contradiction "it doesn't matter who's president, but avoid progressives at all costs."

How much of a cut do you think that would have?

It's not hugely obvious that any of the four officers involved in the George Floyd thing was a prolific "offender"... From what I can tell the guy used a bizarre restraint method on a one-off - probably I'm guessing because he wanted to keep the perp at a distance in the Covid era and didn't want Floyd breathing in his face - and wasn't a particularly systematic "bad apple".

As to the proposal bear in mind that everytime you try to create an incentive, you risk creating a disincentive. Liability insurance means police one more incentive to try to avoid actually tackling offenders - if they actually harm them, they're then taking an effective paycut, which could be quite a serious paycut. Perverse incentives rule - I'm going to play Devil's Advocate and suggest its better to fire people if they don't perform rather than give them financial incentives which make their jobs unaffordable if they actually try to carry them out and make more mistakes than people who avoid carrying out their job.

And bear in mind the above is just the perverse incentive on the cop's side that could be risked by liability insurance.

On the insurance corp's side, you've got the potential for them to coin in and profiteer raised premiums while doing "Woke Capitalism" and signalling to the public that they're taking out "racist cops" in an entirely fabricated "epidemic" of police violence towards Black men, which in reality is no epidemic or disproportionate and is entirely proportionate to Black men's involvement in serious and petty criminality.

I appreciate that you included "petty" crime.

Because, in a free society, cops meting out extra-judicial death sentences for petty crime is generally considered a problem, at least among fair-minded freedom-loving people.

lol, I am not suggesting it is a "punishment that fit the crime", just that people who engage in petty crime will come across the police more, and then these sort of things will end up happening, even if there is no particular racial animus and the rate is proportionate to # encounters with police and behaviour towards them.

Well, we don't know what the cops are thinking do we?

We do know that they don't tend to kneel on the necks of clearly wealthy teenage girls accused of shoplifting. And they don't tend to draw guns on angry armed white males pushing their way into government buildings. So I am inclinded to believe that cops have developed a sense of 'who they can do what to.'

But I do give cops a lot of credit for situational awareness, particularly after a few minutes have lapsed since a chase/takedown.

The racism implied is not so much towards individual cops in the moment, as it is towards the other cops standing around watching, the cops and cop leadership down the line after an incident, the prosecutors who are slow to charge, and the rest of the nation in terms of their reaction afterwards. Including comments about correlation/causation and statistically speaking blah blah which tend to amount to little more than excuses for hypocrisy and inaction and thinly-veiled 'he was asking for it' rationalizations that are given depending on the color of the skin of the recipient.

Police in the US don't "tend" to restrain anyone with a knee.

I'm not particularly interested in obsessing about a particular incident. The wider statistical evidence has been gathered and tends to show that the proportion of violent incidents is pretty proportionate to violent crime. That there is a wider pattern of disproportionate response (beyond expected from the level of resist of arrest and the degree of other violence in circumstances) is core to the arguments made by the Black Lives Matter protesters, and is something they have failed to bear out. Anyone who doesn't engage on it is implicitly admitting that their case is faulty.

I'll note that you failed to engage with my point.

I think if you 1) choose to respond to a comment I am making that is not in response to you, 2) avoid my point, 3) make another point that is not entirely clear what it is (it seems to be "Anyone questioning statistical patterns is a mealy-mouthed individual who is trying to avoid the Action! which we all know we must take!"), then the burden is not actually on me to engage with whatever your point actually is.

"The Minneapolis police officer who knelt on George Floyd's neck had 18 previous complaints against him, police department says"

Man, that COVID is a bitch.

How many is typical in a long career then?

I think the question at hand is, should that question be normative or empirical?

But that story reports that two of four cops on that scene had none, and two of four cops had several.

Clearly both. But it is up to you to substantiate that he was an outlier who had more complaints than would explained by the length of career (or even for example a single persistent claimant) or that otherwise should've long been recognized before. Since you are (implicitly) making the claim that this is the case.

lol, you must think I care about your opinion, covid-boy.

Hey, you're than one that responded. "Like, as if I care". Now I really can't tell if you're an 11 year old girl rather than as normal, a 50-60 year old boomer who lectures people on rectitude and character...

This paper is a bit old but provides some hard figures. It reports that in 2002, there were 10.9 complaints per 100 officers who respond to calls. If these ratios hold over time, the average cop should be able to go 10 years even on street duty without receiving a complaint.

This backs up what I've read and heard from a few different sources that complaints against police are highly skewed. Many veteran cops even in big-city, high-crime police departments get few or no complaints but a few rack up large numbers of complaints over the course of their careers.

Pretty limited, but at least that's *something*...

Assume those numbers are constant - 33 complaints per year per force. Was this guy really receiving 2-3% of his force's complaints over a 20 year career then? Seems a very high proportion.

+1 muy excellente atlantic article
-the inability to accurately predict fatality numbers at the beginning of this novel viral pandemic is mostly not a failure.

What specifically are the regulators 'flat-out right' about w/r/t vaccines?

The regulator here is the CDC, which is in disgrace and probably in the process of being disbanded, and the FDA, an agency Tyler complains about dismissively with regularity. The vaccine approval system has drawn a lot of scrutiny lately (including here) for its perversions and limitations, and of course the entire system is justified by the models of epidemiologists, who we all know have low GRE scores.

Meanwhile, the system itself is composed of government-mandated captive markets, monopoly providers protected by blanket preemptive liability shields, and largely driven by the political appointees at the revolving-door CDC.

The flu vaccine suffers from many of the flaws that critics complain about now w/r/t covid etc: an often-ineffective vaccine (because it's a crap shoot), that is imposed on the healthy population to protect the elderly and infirm, death rate statistics that are accused of being inflated to scare people, and a product that must be subsidized and given away for free because the market refuses to pay for it.

So what, specifically, have the regulators gotten "right" about vaccines?

Still waiting for the Libertarian case in support of how we do vaccines....

You government hacks and lawyers are such scum.

That's a typical defense of the extremely non-Libertarian system.

It also fails to answer the question I asked.

But you might want to take your blood pressure meds.

If regulation were random, with NPV's being distributed normally, there would be no systemic reason to reduce or increase regulation. [Technological and economic change would constantly scramble NPVs, but not necessarily in the direction of more or less regulation.]

Libertarian-small government folks ("small government" in the market price intervention sense; sometime "small government" is a code word for less redistribution) probably believe that the regulation-making process is biased toward producing too many negative NPV regulations. It would be more efficient from that point of view to elucidate and try to overcome the biases in the process than to push for “less” regulation.

"Negative npv" regulations invariably pit the cost of investing in ways to hurt fewer people versus the non-financial benefit of hurting fewer people.

When people complain about bias to negative npv, they are complaining that it is too expensive to hurt fewer people.

Many gyrations have been created to try and convert that non-financial benefit into financial metrics, and that's where all the fireworks are found.

You mean the penis expanders do not work?

asking for a friend?

Whether anecdotal or analytical, an accounting of flaws or blessings is not really at the heart of the question regarding libertarianism. Libertarians will run these in circles to make their points. The real question is: What IS its philosoply of governance?

At the extreme of libertarianism, the answer is actually anarchy i.e. no governance, no state any potential infringement on what the individual defines as their freedoms in unacceptable.

As one moves from this extreme, one has to begin to accept governance as a mutual acitivity i.e. that one must give up some degree of individualism for the sake of all. I do believe this was kind of the point of many Enlightment philosophers which is why it is:

It's not clear to me exactly what WHO reversal Tyler is referring to in his first answer, but the WHO continues not to recommend community mask use, that is, cotton homemade masks worn by the general populace. At least, they still have videos and statements on their website to that effect. Am I missing something?

Does the idea of a WHO reversal come from articles like this?

Because the reporter's headline and words do not reflect what is in the WHO's documents, the latter of which is dated after this SCMP article was published.

I might well be too optimistic here, grasping at straws, but it actually seems that there is a lot of support for the idea that we need regulation, but it should smaller and more efficient than is currently the case. There's also a less partisan and less ideological response here. Finally, I think it's good that Alex and Tyler want to address where failings occur, since I'm not competent and too lazy to do so. If they want to address the failings of regulation, motor on. I need to listen to some music and/or take a nap.

Many regulations in the US seem to be kind of ridiculous though...(not saying that's not the case of other countries, though in many areas there's less regulation in Europe than in the US). Just one example: you can't import a new European-spec car to the US ( The reason for this? Can someone explain this to me... IMO seems to be either: we are Americans thus have to have our own rules, or b), it's a non-tariff barrier to trade...a really stupid one since the yanks don't sell much cars in Europe anyway...

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