[pp.int.general] Overregulation

carlo von lynX lynX at pirate.my.buttharp.org
Sun Nov 13 11:49:12 CET 2016

On Sun, Nov 13, 2016 at 10:50:43AM +0100, Zbigniew Łukasiak wrote:
> Do your parties have any policy towards overregulation? I think it is

Does the problem really exist? I mean beyond traffic lights at
corners where traffic would flow better without? The curved banana
is an urban legend and most other EU regulations actually have a
reasoning, unless they have a lobby interest. In that case it is
important to face the problem of special interest. "Overregulation"
sounds like a way to make a problem of corruption look like a
problem of democratic architecture, distracting from the actual
crime at the root of it. Shifting the blame onto the system,
inducing the people to think of some anarchist better way of doing
things when that is actually both a false problem and an impossible
route of thought. "Small government" is a fallacy.[1]

> an important problem because it seems that the amount of different
> regulations only grows and grows and it is clear that at some point it

If the number of laws grows and grows that can be a symptom of a different
malady (well researched in Italy, that's how I know): if the executive
branch and/or justice system are so corrupt that laws are not actually
enforced, then the desperate lawmaker tends to compensate by fleshing
out the laws somewhat further. Whenever you see laws getting absurdly
complicated, expect to be having a bigger problem at the root.

And, of course, fight the criminality that causes the illness, not the

> will become unmanageable if it is not already. And I also think that
> it is a subject that should be close to Pirate Parties because we have
> many programmers among our ranks and the problem of too much code is
> something well studied in programming.

Refactoring laws is the job we are applying for whenever we put names 
on our election ballots. It's what parliaments do, day in day out, long
before computer scientists started to study the subject.

> Of course the rule proposed by Trump is overly simplistic.

He's trying to rewrite the US from scratch. But we know from computer
science that full rewrites usually end up worse than the original
code properly refactored. In fact, doing so anyway is frequently a
"populist" gesture also in computer science (by the modern days
derogatory meaning of "populist", not the Rooseveltian meaning)[1].
It's more fun to rewrite things from scratch, because this time we
will not make any mistakes and it will be bug-free from the start!

[1] cjd pointed me to a great article that explains how "big
government" was never the problem. The problem was the inability
of the young generation to understand why the old generation did
certain things in certain ways. And by the way it explains in
very illuminating way where economic policy went wrong and what
we need to do to fix it:


The article is damn long, so if you prefer just the highlights:

    Modern liberals tend to confuse a broad social-welfare state and redistribution of resources in the form of tax-and-spend policies with the New Deal. In fact, the central tenet of New Deal competition policy was not big or small government; it was distrust of concentrations of power and conflicts of interest in the economy.
    […] Competition policy meant preserving democracy within the commercial sphere, by keeping markets open.
    […] New Dealers understood this not as regulation, but decentralization, a shrinking of the financial sector to prevent conflicts of interest.
    […] The corporation had to be fit into the constitutional order.
    […] As Roosevelt put it to Congress when announcing a far-reaching assault on monopolies in 1938: “The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism.”
    […] To constrain big business and protect democracy, Democrats used a raft of anti-monopoly, or pro-competition, policy to great effect, leading to vast changes: The Securities and Exchange Commission was created, the stock exchanges were regulated, the big banks were broken up, the giant utility holding companies were broken up, […] The Democrats then extended this globally, through the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and NATO […]

Wow, IMF, NATO and World Bank all seen in a once positive perspective!

    When Reagan came into office, one of his most extreme acts was to eliminate the New Deal anti-monopoly framework. […] He reversed the single most important New Deal policy to constrain concentrations of economic and political power, and… nothing. Antitrust was forgotten, because no one was left to fight for it.
    […] Clinton stripped antitrust out of the Democratic platform; it was the first time a reference to monopoly power was not in the platform since 1880. Globalization, deregulation, and balanced budgets would animate Clinton’s political economy, with high-tech and finance leading the way.

More on this in the great Adam Curtis doc "ALL WATCHED OVER BY MACHINES 

    A West Wing generation learned only Watergate Baby politics, never realizing an earlier progressive economic tradition had even existed.
    […] The gains of the 1990s, it turns out, were not structural, but illusory. Early in Bush’s term, the stock-market bubble burst and wages collapsed. A few years later, a global banking crisis, induced by a financial sector that had steadily gained power for 40 years, erupted.
    […] By 2008, the ideas that took hold in the 1970s had been Democratic orthodoxy for two generations.
    […] The Obama administration has been ideologically consistent with the Watergate Babies’ rejection of populism.

I am fascinated by a definition of "populist" that includes 
rational lawmaking and is opposite to demagoguery. German
media delivers a completely different meaning.

    Open markets are gone, replaced by a handful of corporate giants.
    “This,” wrote Robert Kagan in The Washington Post, “is how fascism comes to America.” The nation is awash in commentary and fear over the current cultural moment. “America is a breeding ground for tyranny,” wrote Andrew Sullivan in New York magazine.
    Patman once attacked chain stores as un-American, saying, “We, the American people, want no part of monopolistic dictatorship in … American business.” Having yielded to monopolies in business, the nation must now face the un-American threat to democracy Patman warned they would sow.
    Americans have forgotten about the centuries-old anti-monopoly tradition that was designed to promote self-governing communities and political independence.
    In the 1930s, Patman said that restricting chain stores would prevent “Hitler’s methods of government and business in Europe” from coming to the United States. For decades after World War II, preventing economic concentration was understood as a bulwark against tyranny. But since the 1970s, this rhetoric has seemed ridiculous. Now, the destabilization of political institutions suggests that it may not have been.

    Matt Stoller is a budget analyst on the Senate Budget Committee.

Brilliant. So the original "populists" would say something like this...

    “We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”

... and the Clinton generation thought it was cool to reject this.

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