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A Hippocratic Oath for Policy Makers. Robert W. Hahn Executive Director AEI – Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies. Presented at the PRI Conference Regulating Wireless in California: Bill of Rights … or Wrongs? San Francisco, CA April 15, 2003. Roadmap.

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a hippocratic oath for policy makers

A Hippocratic Oathfor Policy Makers

Robert W. Hahn

Executive Director

AEI – Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies

Presented at the PRI Conference

Regulating Wireless in California: Bill of Rights … or Wrongs?

San Francisco, CA

April 15, 2003

roadmap
Roadmap
  • Make three observations about regulation
  • Offer a paradigm that embraces the Hippocratic Oath
    • Applies to Wireless
1 economic regulation of competitive markets reduces economic welfare
1. Economic Regulation of Competitive Markets Reduces Economic Welfare
  • Price and Entry regulation in competitive markets has been a failure
    • Airline, railroad, and trucking regulations led to price distortions
    • After transportation industries deregulated, estimates of annual consumer benefits between $35 and $40 billion (in 1990)
      • lower prices and better service
    • Similarly, wireless regulation is unlikely to help consumers
2 government intervention can have unintended consequences
2. Government Intervention Can Have Unintended Consequences
  • Example: taxation policies have equity implications
    • Taxes raise prices consumers face, lower demand
    • High wireless taxes (CA wireless taxes exceed 19%) could adversely affect low income customers
  • Regulating wireless service terms will lead to unplanned effects
3 the perfect is the enemy of the good
3. The Perfect Is the Enemy of the Good
  • Regulation frequently strives for perfection
  • Man is Imperfect, there are going to be complaints
  • Cost of fixing “last” complaint likely to far exceed benefits
a policy paradigm

Significant Market Failure?

NO

NO

STOP

YES

Government Policy Likely to Improve Things?

STOP

YES

Consider Implementing Policy

A Policy Paradigm
a hippocratic oath for policy makers1
A Hippocratic Oath forPolicy Makers
  • Don’t intervene if you don’t have a good reason
  • If you do intervene, try to do more good than harm
slide8

Robert W. Hahn

Executive Director

AEI – Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies

1150 17th Street, NW

Washington, DC 20036

Phone: 202.862.5909

Fax: 202.862.7169

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