Three Important Changes To The Regulatory Environm

1601 words - 6 pages

Every day, the Federal Register is filled with hundreds of new regulations that stand to shape society. While their have been a countless number of regulations in the past 125 years, three major policy regulations have occurred that have had the most significant of impacts on both society and governmental regulation as a whole. These three changes include the railroad and trust regulations of the 1ate 19th century, the deregulation era commencing in the 1970?s, and the advent of cost-benefit analysis of regulations beginning in the 1980?s . Each one of these regulatory situations were resultant of an unjust cause in society, and each has contributed to a dramatic shift of the policy environment as a whole.In the mid-1800?s, railroads revolutionized intrastate travel by offering an inexpensive way of transporting people and goods. Railroad companies quickly realized the profit potentials and consolidated their companies, until only a few remained that were responsible for most of the nations travel. These large railroad companies led to price-fixing by their owners, who agreed on set prices for their routes. In response to these pricing tactics, the first major piece of governmental regulation occurred with the creation of the Interstate Commerce Commision in 1887. In future years, the ICC would become the model for many other regulatory agencies, but in 1887 it was unique. Because of its uniqueness, the act that created it was vague in many areas, and its precise powers and character remained unclear. From the standpoint of certain political groups, that wanted powerful federal controls, the Interstate Commerce Act was overly restraining, because it left enforcement to be carried out by a lengthy judicial process. The ICC could not directly impose its regulations and rulings, but had to bring suit in federal courts for compliance if a railroad company refused to accept its decisions. Besides that, the law left a rather large margin of non-regulation by authorizing the ICC to exempt railroads from the ban on long-haul / short-haul discrimination where the public interest (however that could be defined) required it. According to Mark Eisner, however, ?railroad regulation and antitrust policies became two central components of the Progressive Era?s market regime.? (Eisner 2000, 47).For at least the first decade of the ICC?s existence, the strategy of having regulatory powers transferred from the states to federal control was working out according to their wishes. In a series of Court rulings and new acts, the ICC's power was gradually elaborated, and by 1917, the railroads had been brought under comprehensive regulation. Oil companies took a similar path, with John D. Rockefeller?s Standard Oil Trust rising to the top of its industry. As a result of trusts and monopolistic practices in several key industries, the American people came to be discontent with big business, claiming that these trusts and monopolies breached their economic rights and made...

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