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Blue vs. Blue in Massachusetts

Add Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to the growing list of blue state, democratic governors taking on core elements of the blue social model. With state businesses straining under a mountain of red tape and “nuisance” regulations, Governor Patrick is preparing to announce a new set of guidelines for lawmakers to ensure that the state develops a regulatory regime that allows businesses to thrive. From the Wall Street Journal:

The governor will require that no new regulation be approved without completion of a “small business impact” statement answering 20 questions, such as, “Is this likely to encourage or deter the formation of business? Who did you consult from the small business community to come to this conclusion?”

The regulatory madness that has been wreaking havoc on the federal government has been having a similar effect at the state level. Fortunately, it looks like governors are pushing back—from both sides of the aisle. As states compete for new jobs and begin to develop best practice standards, this process looks likely to move forward. Maybe even the federal government will follow suit.

As Governor Patrick puts it: “Let’s focus on what’s necessary and stop doing what’s not.”

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  • David from Boston

    Neither Governor Patrick or the Ms. Levitz mentioned health insurance costs. I’m self employed, live and work in Massachusetts, and my health insurance premiums have gone up over 50% in two years. And that’s for a policy with a substantially higher deductible.

  • Jim.

    What a refreshing counterpoint to “Environmental Impact” statements!

    Can we please impose this on unelected rulemaking bodies as well? How about a line-by-line of existing regulations?

    This has real potential.

  • American Schwiizer

    I find it increasingly ridiculous that regulation and/or red tape is always associated with social policy and the social state. Let’s be honest here — it is bipartisan and has absolutely nothing to do with the so-called “blue” social model. The blue social model, for instance, would tear apart the private bureaucracy of rentiers who milk the healthcare system by introducing uniform payment and coverage schemes (if not uniform single-payer systems at the state level). What is the RED model? Letting the market do it — by tacking on a mess of regulations, i.e., “red” tape, to ensure that the system remains private.

    The tendency to distort what those left of center — a dying breed in the Anglosphere if one uses a truly fair scale — actually wants contributes to a continued movement toward the right… and a greater jumble of regulation to ensure that service provison is “private.” If that provison is to be private, and considered “adequate,” regulations and mandates must be piled on. If, instead, we create a blanket system of universal social insurance, regulations can be dropped left and right with fewer adverse effects.

  • BillH

    I predict the small business impact statement will be perfunctorily done and filed away, with no impact at all, other than creating a some state jobs to administer it.

  • macG

    Agreed, American Schwiizer.

    During the mid-20th c. heyday of organization men, industrial unionism, and paleo-Keynesianism, the New Deal regulatory state could perhaps have been characterized, anachronisticaly using the modern partisan color code, as a “blue” opposite number to laissez-faire McKinleyite “red” Rockefeller Republicanism.

    Nowadays, the battle is between “red” partisans of subsidies for ag and extractive industries and “blue” neo-liberals like Matthew Yglesias and “liberaltarians” like Will Wilkinson and Andrew Sullivan, the new blue neo-libs generally being quite sympathetic indeed to Dole/Kemp-esque market-based solutions like Obamneycare and carbon taxation.

    I keep hoping for deep thoughts from WRM’s “blue” essays, and I keep getting left with the disappointed impression that he’s just refighting the intellectual wars of the Carter Administration. Someday dead wood baby boomers will retire, and the debate about how to market-optimize progressive capitalism will be able to proceed without their Vietnam-era culture war obfuscation.

    Until then, the rest of us just have to wait, like mammals in the shadow of dinosaurs.

  • elisa

    How is either forcing individuals to buy insurance at a set price, or taxing carbon a so-called market based solution? The idea of markets is for the interested purchaser to shop and choose, just as one does in a real market, and does not at all have to do with coercing people to buy or pay as with obamacare mandates or carbon taxes.

    And no, tacking on a bunch of regulations is not ‘free market.’ Regulations are too often used to distort and burden the market, pushing advantage toward various players and disadvantaging others by setting up obstacles and difficulties (the recent operating methods of LightSquared come to mind).
    At best regulations should referee, such as with safety and effectiveness standards for drugs, but interested parties are always trying to sway the regulators, and so the thicket of regulations grow.

    There comes a time when hedge clippers are in order.

  • elisa

    And to be fair, regulators respond to new developments thus also growing regulation, arguably by over-responding.

  • Kris

    “The governor will require that no new regulation be approved without completion of a ‘small business impact’ statement answering 20 questions”

    I love this. Subject regulation-making itself to regulation!

    Schwiizer@3: Ah, so if we don’t want a sector to be strangled by regulation, we should just hand it over to the government!

  • macG

    Elisa, those are fair questions. I think the politics of the future will be largely a debate between those that think that the government has no business being more than a night watchman state, and those who think that problems like lack of health insurance and negative externalities from fossil fuel use driving climate change are instances of market failure for which government intervention is desirable.

    For conservatives and right libertarians, being taxed to provide for more than a night watchman state feels like theft, and being regulated to provide for more feels like tyranny.

    For progressives, OTOH, government intervention to solve problems like healthcare and global warming is philosophically congenial. The battle on the left was between the old “blue” model–now largely a dead horse that WRM keeps beating anyway–that sought to solve these problems through command and control regulations like pollution caps. Compared to command and control, today’s liberaltarian alternatives (like carbon taxes) are MORE market-based, even if they’re not AS market-based as the right libertarian preference of ignoring the problem. Similarly, mandates are MORE market-based than single payer, even if not AS market-based as letting those too poor or imprudent to have purchased health insurance just get on with decreasing the surplus population.

    So there’s still a conflict. But now it’s between ignoring negative externalities and tweaking the market around the edges to ameliorate them, not between ignoring them and command & control regs, which is the long-dead battle WRM keeps fighting.

  • Jim.

    Schwiizer, there’s a bit of a difference between presenting “sticker prices” for cars and nationalizing all automakers and dealerships.

    It’s interesting to see more lefty trolls showing up here on VM, but one wishes they had substantive arguments rather than slogans and buzzwords kludged together with faulty logic.

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