Suffering from Deregulation – By the Numbers

With all the cries of how the free market has failed us, it’s nice to see some thoughtful commentary with numbers to back it up. Walter E. Williams, professor of economics at George Mason University, certainly delivers.

The Federal Register, which lists new regulations, annually averaged 72,844 pages between 1977 and 1980. During the Reagan years, the average fell to 54,335. During the Bush I years, they rose to 59,527, to 71,590 during the Clinton years and rose to a record of 75,526 during the Bush II years.

Employees in government regulatory agencies grew from 146,139 in 1980 to 238,351 in 2007, a 63 percent increase. In the banking and finance industries, regulatory spending between 1980 and 2007 almost tripled, rising from $725 million to $2.07 billion.

So here’s my question: What are we to make of congressmen, talking heads and news media people who tell us the financial meltdown is a result of deregulation and free markets? Are they ignorant, stupid or venal?

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