Cambridge University Press recently published Professor Thom Lambert’s book, How to Regulate: A Guide for Policymakers. The book sets forth a plan for addressing two unfortunate facts: that markets sometimes fail, and so do government efforts to correct market failures.
In light of that unhappy situation, Professor Lambert encourages policymakers to think like physicians. In addressing adverse symptoms, they should diagnose the underlying “disease” and assess all available “remedies” and their potential “side effects” before settling on the regulatory approach that will generate the greatest social welfare.
How to Regulate has garnered high praise from former regulators. Harvard Law Professor Cass Sunstein, the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) during the Obama Administration, wrote: “This may well be the best guide, ever, to the regulatory state. It’s brilliant, sharp, witty, and even-handed — and it’s so full of insights that it counts as a major contribution to both theory and practice. Indispensable reading for policymakers all over the world, and also for teachers, students, and all those interested in what the shouting is really about.”
D.C. Circuit Judge Douglas Ginsburg, administrator of OIRA during the Reagan administration, offered similar praise: “The title notwithstanding, this book will be valuable for all policy wonks, not just policymakers. It provides an organized and rigorous framework for analyzing whether and how inevitably imperfect regulation is likely to improve upon inevitably imperfect market outcomes.”
Readers familiar with the Columbia area may detect something familiar in the book’s cover art. The cover image, “The Regulator,” was drawn by David Spear, who teaches art at Mizzou and whose paintings grace the walls of Memorial Union and local restaurants Addison’s and Sofia’s.