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Abstracts and Reviews of New Papers

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Chris Mooney, The Republican War on Science

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  • For Jazztown, the Bluest Note
    "I don't see how there could be any future for New Orleans without music."
  • Click to read article
  • Contribute to New Orleans Musicians Hurricane Relief Fund

  • Book Review
    Chris Mooney's book, The Republican War on Science, makes the basic point that Republicans have launched an attack on science unprecedented in recent American history by "politicizing" science.

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  • FROM THE THINK TANKS
    The Ethics and Public Policy Center publishes the New Atlantis, " A Journal of Technology and Science".
    A recent issue describes the new vision given to NASA by the Bush Administration.

    Bush’s NASA Revolution Back to the future, 35 years after Apollo 11
    By Adam Keiper
    Thirty-five years ago, the "Eagle" landed and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon. Since then, our great adventure in space shriveled into just a fragile space shuttle and a half-built space station. Now, President Bush's new vision for NASA is putting us on a path toward long-term exploration and permanent outposts in space.

  • Click to read full article.

  • From The Think Tanks
    The Mercatus Center prepares a comprehensive report on the performance of federal agencies. The report is based upon information resulting from the Government Performance and Results Act. For FY 2003, Labor, Veterans Affairs and Transportation received the highest marks.

  • Click to learn more.

  • AEI-Brookings on OMB's Report On The Benefits And Costs Of Federal Regulations
    This paper critically reviews the draft of the Office of Management and Budget's seventh report on the benefits and costs of federal regulation. The draft report represents an improvement over previous reports in two ways. It explores regulatory reform worldwide and discusses the costs of regulation on the manufacturing sector. OMB's focus on the manufacturing sector, however, is unduly narrow. OMB should focus on reforming regulations in other sectors as well.

  • Click to learn more.

  • Heritage Foundation
    Property, Competition and Telecom: The Continuing Debate
    by James Gattuso and Norbert Miche

    Earlier this year, we published a paper attacking the notion that U.S. telecom networks actually belong to the public, rather than their shareholders. We didn’t think this rather straightforward defense of property rights would engender much debate, but debate is exactly what’s happened. First, economist Lawrence Kotlikoff—whose argument spurred our piece—published a “tutorial” on the Tech Central Station website responding to our critique. Now, George Ford of the Phoenix Center has weighed in with his own analysis to correct our “errors.”


    PRICELESS, by Frank Ackerman and Liza Heinzerling (The New Press, 2004)
    Review by Jim Tozzi, Center for Regulatory Effectiveness

    The authors are transparent and upfront with respect to where they stand and where they are going; their book is based on two premises:

    1) "The basic problem with narrow economic analysis of health and environmental protection is that human life, health, and nature cannot be described meaningfully in monetary terms; they are priceless" (pg. 8).

    With respect to the need to make tradeoffs, the authors state:

    2) "Resources are of course ultimately limited, but there is no evidence that we have approached the limits of what is possible---…There is no evidence that these corporate burdens are, or are about to be, unaffordable." Furthermore, even if this constraint is real, benefit/cost analyses is incoherent and not useful. (pg. 10)
    Now let's discuss each of these statements.

    With respect to statement #1, benefits cannot be monetized. There are a number of deficiencies in benefit/cost analyses that have been documented by a number of scholars, one of the most significant is that all benefit/cost analyses, however complete, are incomplete.

    First, we have the classic trade off between equity and efficiency, the authors state this concern very succinctly:
    "Cost/benefit analysis consists of adding up all the costs and benefits of a policy, and comparing the totals. Implicit in this innocuous-sounding procedure is the controversial assumption that it doesn't matter who gets the benefits and who pays the cost."(pg 149).
    I agree with the authors, traditional benefit/cost analyses examine the impact of the size of the economic pie, not who gets to eat it.

    Priceless means that something has a value beyond any price that can be assigned to it. This statement might be accurate but it is no reason not to monetize those impacts that can be monetized and not to stretch economic analysis to attempt to monetize those impacts that cannot be monetized.

    Furthermore, using cost/effective analysis overcomes many of the shortcomings of benefit cost analyses. In this approach you would simply determine the cost per life saved, for example, and compare the cost/effectiveness ratio against some norm or other proposed rules.

    However, cost/effective analyses are no panacea either, because as the authors point out, there are many impacts that not evaluated, for example, illnesses prevented as opposed to lives saved.

    Now let's proceed to the second major premise of the book, namely that resources are not that limited and thus we need not subject environmental, health and safety regulation to benefit/cost analyses.

    While the authors make a number of good points, many of which I agree, I take very serious exception to the aforementioned premise of a lack of resource constraints. For example,

         "According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, during the fourth quarter of 2003 more CEOs across the globe viewed "overregulation" as the greatest single threat to their business than any other single risk, including "global terrorism."

    There is a vast literature that demonstrates that we are resource constrained.

    Allow me to give three statistics. GDP is around $10 trillion, the Federal budget is around $2 trillion and the cost of regulation around $1 trillion.

    Now let's examine the analysis accorded to elements in the federal budget.

    Each element is examined and reviewed by program, budget and fiscal analysts, at the agency, OMB and Congressional levels.

    There is no reason not to subject regulatory expenditures to the same level of analytical scrutiny.

    However, the question, raised by the authors, and one which I think should be ventilated, is what type of analyses should be utilized?

    I agree with one central thrust of the book, if benefit/cost analyses are determinative, then that would constitute an overuse of the tool.

    Many supporters of benefit/cost analyses would argue that they do not propose that the tool be determinative. Nonetheless, formal benefit/cost analyses often take on a life of their own, and the authors are rightfully concerned.

    So where does this leave us and the authors.

    The authors state they do not have a complete solution to the problem but have developed principals that should guide a solution.

    One of their basic premises is that a "holistic" approach should be utilized.

    In response to an alternative to formal benefit/cost analyses, the authors state:

          "In its place, we offer an attitude rather than an algorithm, one that trusts collective common sense judgments, and is humble in the face of uncertainty, steadfast in confronting urgent problems, and committed to fairness within and beyond the generation" (pg. 234)

    I think a good start would be for the authors to write a sequel to this book, in which they expand on this concept.

    They might wish to begin with a review of the Semi Annual Calendar of Federal Regulations, which is published every six months in the Federal Register. It contains a list of all major regulations under development in all Federal agencies.

    A "holistic" approach could be used to summarize benefit/cost analyses for those rules for which one has been conducted, and look at non-quantifiable concerns, all of which would be used to initiate an informed review of the nations' regulatory priorities.

  • Listen to the Center for American Progress' book discussion.
  • Seafood Company Files Data Quality Act Petition with FWS
    According to a Portland Press Herald article dated April 17, 2003, Fjord Seafood filed a Data Quality Act petition with FWS and the National Marine Fisheries Service challenging listing of Maine's wild Atlantic Salmon under the Endangered Species Act. Among other arguments, Fjord's Petition claims that the Services withheld from the public information critical to the listing. Several environmental groups, including the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, the Maine Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Conservation Law Foundation, have filed oppositions to the Petition. To the best of CRE's knowledge, this is the first Data Quality Act petition that has been formally opposed by third parties.

  • Click here for article discussing petition
  • An Outcomes Analysis of Scope of Review Standards
    This article raises a question that is rarely asked: Do outcomes (reversal/affirmance/remand rates) on appeal from administrative decisions bear a predictable relationship to the relevant scope of review standard. It turns out that the answer is both yes and no and that in two very active review systems (district court review over Social Security disability and FOIA decisions) the results run counter to what one might surmise based on the relative intensity of the review standards. While conclusions are carefully and necessarily hedged, the subject yields hypotheses worthy of further analysis.

  • Click for Paul R. Verkuil's "An Outcomes Analysis of Scope of Review Standards"
  • CRE Regulatory Services
  • Georgetown University Law Center: Poisonous Procedure Reform
    The Georgetown University Law Center has published Poisonous Procedural "Reform". It focuses on procedural reforms of the regulatory process. The article describes the pivotal role CRE played in the enactment of the Data Quality Act. It also focuses on the precedent-setting impact of Tozzi v. HHS. The publication concludes that "attacks have the potential to nobble if not completely destroy information disclosure as an environmental protection tool."

  • Click to to review report
  • Click to submit a comment
  • CRE Regulatory Services

  • Cato Institute Publishes Report on Federal Regulations
    The Cato Institute recently issued its latest "Ten Thousand Commandments" report on the extent and cost of federal regulations. According to its author, Wayne Crews Jr., the report provides data on regulations, the agencies that issue them, and regulatory benefits and costs, all in a way that makes the regulatory state more comprehensible to the public. The report also makes recommendations designed to increase the accountability of agencies and Congress for preventing excessive and unwarranted regulation. CRE supports the Cato Institute's efforts to increase transparency and public understanding as to the scope and substance of the federal regulatory system.

  • Click to to review "Ten Thousand Commandments" published by the Cato Institute
  • Click to submit a comment
  • CRE Regulatory Services

  • FedLaw Website
    CRE has committed to update the FedLaw website on a continuing basis. To this end, the Center looks forward to receiving requests from governmental and non-governmental entities regarding relevant additions or modifications to the site. For example, based upon one such request, CRE recently added LAW AND POLITICS: INTERNET GUIDE to FedLaw's "General Research and Reference" and "How-to Legal-related Sites" sections. This site is designed as a one-stop source for legal research, including informative and current law- related resources on the Internet. Links posted on LAW AND POLITICS offer a brief description and are chosen for their informational value, based upon four criteria: quality, accuracy of content, presentation, and utility. CRE looks forward to further input as it seeks to maintain the FedLaw website as a useful public resource.

  • Click to Access the FedLaw website
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  • CRE Regulatory Services

  • SBA Office of Advocacy Releases FY 2001 Annual Report on Implementation of the Regulatory Flexibility Act
    The Small Business Administration (SBA) has released its FY 2001 Annual Report of the Chief Counsel for Advocacy on Implementation of the Regulatory Flexibility Act. That Act requires federal regulatory agencies to analyze the impacts of proposed regulations on small entities and to consider equally effective alternatives that do not unduly burden small businesses. In assessing agency compliance with the law, this year's Annual Report found that American small business saved over $4.4 billion in regulatory compliance costs in FY 2001 due to the Office of Advocacy's efforts. CRE strongly supports SBA in its mission to reduce regulatory burdens.

  • Review the SBA Research Bulletin
  • Review the SBA Press Release
  • Review SBA's FY 2001 Annual Report of the Chief Counsel for Advocacy on Implementation of the Regulatory Flexibility Act
  • CRE Regulatory Services
  • Click to submit a comment

    Scholars Publish New Book on Risk Analysis
    Authors Daniel Byrd and Richard Cothern recently informed CRE of the publication of a new book entitled Introduction to Risk Analysis: A Systematic Approach to Science-Based Decision Making, and the Center was also supplied with a release on this new volume. CRE has worked closely with Dr. Byrd in the past and has found his works to be both insightful and of strong academic merit. Consequently, although CRE has not yet reviewed this publication, the Center wanted to make it known to CRE readers, as it may be a topic of interest.

  • Click to read the release on Introduction to Risk Analysis: A Systematic Approach to Science-Based Decision Making.
  • Click to submit a comment

    Publisher Issues Press Release for New Book on Risk
    Tharis Professional Books recently informed CRE of the March 1, 2002 publication of a new book entitled Elimination of Risk in Systems. The publisher also included a press release on this new work. Although CRE has not reviewed this publication, the Center wanted to make this new volume known to CRE readers, as it may be a topic of interest.

  • Read press release from Tharis Professional Books.
  • Comment on Item

    CEI Publishes Primer on Technology Issues for the 107th Congress
    The Competitive Enterprise Institute's Tech Briefing 2001 will help the beleaguered congressional staffer navigate this maze of issues. It contains 20 short chapters on a variety of topics, ranging from broadband deployment to Internet privacy to intellectual property to the growth of B2B commerce. The sections are laced with background facts and references to additional sources of information, so the reader can follow the analysis that underlies the policy conclusions presented.

  • Competitive Enterprise Institute
  • Comment on Item

    Scholar Publishes New Work Entitled "Reviving Regulatory Reform: A Global Perspective"
    Dr. Robert Hahn of the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies has just completed a new book entitled, "Reviving Regulatory Reform: A Global Perspective." The text lays out an approach for addressing Regulatory Reform in both domestic and international contexts. In the book, Dr. Hahn also concludes that nearly half of the federal regulations promulgated between 1981 and 1996 would not pass the test of a cost-benefit analysis. Based upon its interest in Regulatory Reform topics, CRE wanted to make this new work known to its readers.

  • Read AEI's Book Summary.
  • Ordering Information.
  • Comment on Item

    Competitive Enterprise Institute Issues Policy Papers on Regulatory Reform
    The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has recently published several papers containing a number of interesting proposals for regulatory reform. Topics addressed include preparation of a Regulatory Budget, a critical look at off-budget spending (i.e. cost to the private sector of complying with government regulations), and other topics such as cost-benefit analysis. CRE lauds CEI's efforts to bring this important information to the attention of the public and for its reasoned recommendations for reform.

    Unleashing Innovation: The Right Approach to Global Climate Change
    The Business Roundtable has completed a report which is based on a recently completed survey of BRT member companies and identifies 38 specific opportunities to improve regulatory, tax and trade policies to encourage elaborate innovation and implementation of new energy-conserving technologies.

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  • Harvard Center for Risk Analysis Writes on Contingent Valuation
    The Harvard Center on Risk Analysis has written an examination of the scientific basis for monetary estimates of the value of reducing mortality risk. These estimates play an important part in benefit-cost analyses of public health and environmental regulations. In particular, the study considers the validity of estimates based on "contingent valuation," a method that relies on people's responses to survey questions about hypothetical choices. The paper has concluded that contingent valuation is "an extremely flexible method for eliciting preferences about health risks", and that in order for CV studies to yield demonstrably valid results they must be consistent with other information which include "the predictions of reasonable theories of decision making and valuation of health risk".

    For more information, please contact the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis at:

    Harvard School of Public Health
    718 Huntington Ave.
    Boston, MA 02115-5924
    617-432-4497
    http://www.hcra.harvard.edu/


    Congressional Investigation of OSHA's Use of Contractors to Testify, Without Attribution to OSHA, at the OSHA Ergonomics Hearings
    Inside OSHA reports on OSHA's use of contractors to develop the Ergonomics Standard.

    AEI-Brookings Assessment of OMB's Draft Guidance On Cost/Benefit Analysis
    Legislation introduced in the 105th Cong., 2d Sess., H.R. 4162, addresses, in part, the recommendations discussed by Dr. Hahn to utilize a format which documents compliance with the Presidential Executive Order on regulatory review.


    Submit Abstracts or Articles to the CRE
    The CRE is instituting a new feature to assist readers in staying current with literature on regulation. This space will highlight both abstracts and reviews of significant papers. The CRE encourages its readers to submit either abstracts of articles they have written or abstracts accompanied by a third-party review. The name and affiliation of the author and reviewer needs to be included. Federal officials are encouraged to submit abstracts of regulatory-related papers available on their website.