A hippocratic oath for policy makers
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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

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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


A hippocratic oath for policy makers

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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