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It Depends


In this week’s column, Walter Williams poses a question:

The Federal Register, which lists new regulations, annually averaged 72,844 pages between 1977 and 1980. During the Reagan years, the average fell to 54,335. During the Bush I years, they rose to 59,527, to 71,590 during the Clinton years and rose to a record of 75,526 during the Bush II years.

Employees in government regulatory agencies grew from 146,139 in 1980 to 238,351 in 2007, a 63 percent increase. In the banking and finance industries, regulatory spending between 1980 and 2007 almost tripled, rising from $725 million to $2.07 billion.

So here's my question: What are we to make of congressmen, talking heads and news media people who tell us the financial meltdown is a result of deregulation and free markets? Are they ignorant, stupid or venal?

Hmmm…let me think…

Dr. Williams has offered a false choice fallacy. Ignorance, stupidity, and venality are not mutually exclusive. The mix is different for each.

Ignorance is curable. Venality is criminal. It’s the stupids we must fight.