Oops. Seems that President Obama’s order for agencies to make sure their regulations are good for the business may not be all that it seems.
As the Wall Street Journal points out today, a reading of the fine print shows that in addition to making sure regulations meet the Chamber of Commerce Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, the EPA and the rest of them must ensure the rules pass muster with Pete Seeger.
When the agencies weigh costs and benefits, the order says, they should always consider “values that are difficult or impossible to quantify, including equity, human dignity, fairness, and distributive impacts.”
Talk about economic elasticities. Equity and fairness can be defined to include more or less anything as a benefit. Under this calculus, a rule might pass Mr. Obama’s cost-benefit test if it imposes $999 billion in hard costs but supposedly results in a $1 trillion increase in human dignity, whatever that means in bureaucratic practice. Another rule could pass muster even if it reduces work and investment, as long as it also lessens income inequality.
Oh well. It didn’t seem from the initial announcement that “spreading the wealth around” was going to be part of the review, but I guess this should have been expected.
I’ve got an idea. I’m going to count this blog’s “distributive impacts” and its contribution to equity and fairness, and I’m going to demand that I be allowed to buy Treasury Bills with it.