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Stated Intentions Are Not Results

Here’s a letter to a Café Hayek reader:

Mr. Rose:

Thanks for sending along Eric Levitz’s recent New York essay “‘Working Class’ Conservatism Doesn’t Work Without Unions.” I must report that I share none of your enchantment with it. An author who describes the Trump administration’s economic policies as “fanatically libertarian” clearly is uninformed – either about the policies or about libertarianism (or both).

But we can chalk up one libertarian-ish move (though surely not motive) to the administration – a move that Levitz, however, misunderstands. Specifically, he complains that “the administration has even opposed environmental regulations that enjoy industry support.” Levitz is obviously unaware of an important reality – namely, environmental regulations are notorious for artificially enhancing the very phenomenon that Levitz fears: the economic power of politically influential corporations.

Environmental regulations routinely raise the costs borne by politically potent producers by less than they raise the costs borne by their politically weaker rivals. Innocent-looking regulations thereby grant to some corporations market power denied to them by free markets.

A journalist who is unaware of this reality has not done his or her homework.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030