The best deregulation lacks popular appeal

Wednesday, December 15th, 2021

The best deregulation lacks popular appeal, Bryan Caplan says, but when the stars align, specific forms of deregulation become potentially popular:

A politician today could loudly promise lots of deregulation — and win. Furthermore, he could fulfill his promises — and win again. Topping the list of potentially popular deregulation:

  1. An immediate end to all Covid rules. No more mask mandates — not in schools, not in airports, not on planes. No more distancing. No more Covid tests. No more travel restrictions on anyone. (The “anyone” phrasing is how you free foreigners, as well as natives, without calling attention to the fact).
  2. An immediate end to all government Covid propaganda. No more looping audio warnings at airports. No more signs or stickers. Indeed, a national campaign to tear down all the propaganda that’s been uglifying the country for almost two years.
  3. A radical and immediate reduction in airport security theater. End the rules that require the removal of shoes, jackets, and belts. End the rules that require you to remove electronic devices from your bags for extra screening. End the rules against travelling with liquids. Switch back to old-fashioned metal detectors instead of body scanners.
  4. An immediate end to all airline security theater. End federal rules for use of “large electronics” during takeoff and landing. End federal rules for tray tables and seat inclines. Stop turning flight attendants into sky deputies. Just say, “Let the airlines decide. Competition works.”
  5. End all traffic cameras. All of them.
  6. End all remaining laws against marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms.
  7. End FDA regulation of smoking and vaping for legal adults – and pass new laws banning such power grabs in the future.
  8. Full school choice, nation-wide: “Fund students, not systems.”
  9. Kill REAL ID. Forever.
  10. End mandatory vehicle safety and emissions inspections: “An annual pain in the neck and a complete waste of time.”
  11. Create an ironclad free speech limitation on discrimination law, which explicitly includes both (a) political speech, and (b) jokes. Along the lines of, “Expression of political opinions or jokes by co-workers, managers, or owners are Constitutionally protected free speech and can never be treated as evidence of discrimination or a hostile workplace environment.”
  12. Undermine Human Resource Departments by amending existing employment law to read, “Human Resource employee training or lack thereof can never be treated as evidence in employment lawsuits.” This removes the incentive to constantly ratchet up employee brainwashing to show that your firm takes the law seriously.


  1. Harry Jones says:

    The unbearable lightness of believing public opinion matters. Lippman said most of what needed to be said about that. Kundera said the rest.

    If Caplan’s so smart, why isn’t he in charge?

    Sorry, but I hate wish lists. Wish lists are for children to give to Santa Claus.

    Full disclosure: I was once involved with a populist political campaign. The guy was a loser in more than one sense of the word. Not a clue how the world worked. Me, I walked away wiser. But he didn’t seem to learn anything at all from the failure.

  2. Gavin Longmuir says:

    “An immediate end to all Covid rules.”

    Some of us think that would be good — and sensible, and long overdue.

    But have you observed the behavior of some of the Karens when they see someone without a mask? They are absolutely petrified! Afraid they are going to die a horrible death!!

    Fauci’s Project Fear has created a lot of human misery and abject terror. Those of us who look at the science would probably be surprised at the resistance to lifting the regulations. Look at supposedly sensible Switzerland, where activists recently succeeded in getting a plebiscite on limiting Covid regulations. A substantial majority voted on keeping Covid regulations active.

  3. Bomag says:

    The political winds are blowing the other way. The people have found that they can vote themselves regulations that punish their enemies and reward their friends.

    People don’t worship and relish the GDP as much as Caplan thinks they do. I certainly have no belief that Caplan’s eschaton rewards the GDP; it’s more an authoritarian dream with the rules enforcing his brand of libertarianism.

  4. Mortimer Nelms says:

    Why stop there. End all overlap between state an federal law enforcement. Eliminate all secret government lists, like no fly lists, get rid of civil asset forfeiture. Sunset all federal regulations and force periodic renewal. Stop the federal student loan program. Eliminate the mortgage interest deduction. Eliminate the Department of Education and HUD. Get rid of FNMA and FHLMC.

  5. McChuck says:

    Roll back all laws and regulations to the state they were in, say, 1900. Nuke it from orbit and start over from scratch.

  6. Albion says:

    It’s going to be interesting how ‘democracy’ is going to stand up to all these ever-increasing and more draconian rules and regulations; many of the the people who are asked, or begged (or even bribed) for their vote are increasingly disillusioned and angry with it all.

    You would think therefore that they would not vote at all because all they will get is more and more laws. But vote we continue to do.

  7. Eric Wilner says:

    Large electronics (and large books, for that matter) are a legitimate safety issue during takeoff, landing, and turbulence; in the event of a sudden change of course, heavy things could go flying and whack some other passenger on the head.

  8. Gavin Longmuir says:

    Albion: “But vote we continue to do.”

    From your pseudonym, you are probably in the UK. Sorry, lad, your native land is behind the times.

    In BidenLand, it is not actually necessary to stand in line to vote, or even to mail in your vote. In fact, it is not even necessary to be alive to vote. Dominion Voting Systems will count the citizen’s (or illegal alien’s) uncast vote the right way (ie, the Biden way) without the need for any action on that person’s part.

    It certainly simplifies the whole issue of “democracy”.

  9. Sam J. says:

    Mortimer Nelms says, “Sunset all federal regulations and force periodic renewal.”

    That’s a big one there. Start with that one and make every single regulation voted on. Musk talked about this the other day how what seems to be a useful regulation when enacted later is not and they never go away.

    That one rule change would do wonders.

  10. Albion says:

    Gavin Longmuir,

    Indeed I am an inhabitant of Arthur’s Kingdom, though somewhat screwed by the acts of successive Mordreds.

    But we are not that far behind those of you enjoying living in Bidenland. We have had Labour governments here eager to hand cartloads of postal votes to muslim communities who, as they have no need to read English (there were signs up in a well-known town called Rotherham where I once lived, in Arabic) and relied on the local imam to mark them for the voters. For some strange reason, the holy men completing the voting forms tended to prefer to enter a Labour candidate as all the voter’s choice, especially if he was muslim. Double-win there.

    Now the UK is a smaller place than the States and getting to a voting booth often involves a very short walk for most voters, so it made no sense to have tons of postal votes unless, of course, the rulers knew that the absence of many thousands of postal votes might not get enough support for the preferred candidate.

    Incidentally, we do not have multiple choices in our elections, so there isn’t much waiting to vote as it is one choice among a handful of people standing. Most people know exactly who they are going to vote for before they step into the voting booth, so it is done very swiftly.

    For those who do take that short walk (i.e, those who aren’t reliant on the local imam to complete the votes) we are told when we get there to mark our vote in pencil. This can, of course, be erased and replaced at the count with a different ‘vote’ which causes many voters to take a sharpie to make a cross in their chosen box and overdraw it with the necessary pencil. In the event of any erasure, there’s a problem, though I suppose these can be tossed in the ‘spoilt ballots’ pile.

    So yes, Gavin, we do have ‘democracy’ even without Dominion’s help.

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