The Unlikely Story of American Regulatory Socialism

Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics (forthcoming)

19 Pages Posted: 31 Dec 2020 Last revised: 16 Apr 2021

See all articles by James Broughel

James Broughel

George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Date Written: April 15, 2021

Abstract

The conventional wisdom has it that US Democrats and those on the American left support incremental steps in the direction of socialism, if not an all-out endorsement of the concept. However, in at least one area—regulation—Republicans and the American political right have also, albeit unwittingly, spread the seeds of socialism not just in Washington, DC, but all across the world. This article reviews the history of federal regulation in the United States, and in particular the arcane, technical history of cost-benefit analysis (CBA), a tool that has become increasingly central in battles over regulation between the Left and the Right. Although right-wing political operatives latched on to CBA in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the tool has a long, complicated history, aspects of which could even be called socialist in nature.

Keywords: socialism, cost-benefit analysis, regulation, Arrow’s impossibility theorem, dictatorship

JEL Classification: B14, D61, D71, I31, K23, L51

Suggested Citation

Broughel, James, The Unlikely Story of American Regulatory Socialism (April 15, 2021). Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics (forthcoming), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3693964

James Broughel (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.mercatus.org/scholars/james-broughel

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