CPSC Commissioner: Regulations don't cost society

Obama Consumer Product Safety Commission appointee Robert Adler displays the mentality that ought to make his boss a one-termer.

Adler writes in today’s New York Times:

Anyone who insists that regulations necessarily impose new costs on society shouldn’t be taken seriously. The costs are already there, in the form of deaths and injuries — and are often as much of a drag on our economy as any safety rule. So the real issue is who should bear the costs.

But Adler sadly fails to offer an example (with numbers, that is) of a regulation that doesn’t cost society — so it’s hard to take him seriously.

Read Adler’s op-ed in the New York Times.

4 thoughts on “CPSC Commissioner: Regulations don't cost society”

  1. I work for the Oregon Department of Transportation, and the formula we use to establish the monetary “Lifetime Risk of Death” of a bridge is a complicated formula. Even when we set the direct cost of a life lost as a payout of $1,000,000 the actual risk to the state of a bridge failure can be quite low, in part because the odds of losing the bridge are usually so low. We have to consider the cost of replacing a bridge now in the context of this risk before placing the bridge on a projects list. Clearly, Mr. Adler isn’t thinking this way.

  2. He is right that there is a cost associated with deaths and injuries, both in the treament and handling of the injured and the lost productivity due to their loss. However, he seems to lack basic economic sense in the idea that one thing necessarily equals another. Is it worthwhile to spend a trillion dollars to save one life? Anyone would say no, because there are many things you could do with a trillion dollars that could save millions of lives.

    Therefore while regulations might not necessarily impose an additional burden over the long term, it is necessary to calculate the balance before dismissing the effects. The low-hanging fruit is mostly gone, and we must be careful not to do more harm than good.

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