Would President Homer Simpson subject
new federal rules to political oversight

In episode 229 of The Simpsons, the local newspaper replaces its retiring food critic with Homer Simpson.  Homer’s new power so corrupts him that he slams a dinner theatre performance of King Lear.  Another negative notice prompts pizzeria owner Luigi to say that "Homer, he’s out of control. He gave me a bad review.  So my friend put a horse head on the bed. He ate the head and gave it a bad review! True story."

Homer doesn’t handle the criticism well, declaring that "I’m Homer Simpson, the most powerful food critic in town, who will never get his comeuppance. You hear me (shakes fist at sky). No comeuppance!"

Blawgletter now knows how Homer felt.  In a recent comment on Blawgletter’s "Does Politics Improve Regulation?" and his own blog posting, Professor Gavin Kennedy, an eminent British economist and authority on Adam Smith, gently points out that the author of The Wealth of Nations actually favored some kinds of "meddling with market forces".  Then he slides a bare bodkin through Blawgletter’s ribs (or so he imagines), noting that, "[i]f the other lawyer knows the difference between the two versions of Adam Smith, he might be delighted for Barry to carry on speaking along the lines of his Blog and await his opportunity to put up an expert witness who does know the difference."  Ouch!

But Blawgletter and Professor Kennedy will part as friends after all.  For Blawgletter intended to highlight the contrast between those who believe that market forces can do no wrong (and who therefore denounce any government regulation) and those who argue that market forces can do great harm by, for example, creating monopolies, fixing prices, polluting air and water, selling unsafe products, producing vast inequality, and practicing frauds.  Smith, as Professor Kennedy takes pains to illustrate, approved of government intervention to mitigate at least some of these market failures.

Blawgletter never said otherwise.  No comeuppance!

Which brings us back to the question Blawgletter asked — can we trust politics to strike the right regulatory balance between the good and the bad that market forces can do?

Barry Barnett

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