What deregulation?

Patrick Gibbons

Rachel Maddow, the dogmatic, left-wing host of an MSNBC “news-based” show, asserted last week that deregulation not only caused the world financial crisis, but that deregulation is causing average Americans to increasingly become impoverished. Although the facts don’t square at all with Maddow’s misconceptions, many Americans share her outlook.

So … let’s consult something objective. Below is a graphic representation of the pages of the Federal Register, which each day publishes the federal government’s new rules and regulations. Given that the total pages devoted to regulations were larger under George W. Bush than under Jimmy Carter, we have to ask: “What deregulation?”

(The Federal Register has been around since 1936, starting with just 2,620 pages. Over the years new rules for reporting regulations has increased the required documentation. 1973 is the earliest year with which we can begin a modern comparison)

What about the supposed growth in poverty? Well, that is a myth, too. Below is the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita from 1900 to 2008 (in 2000 dollar values). GDP per capita represents the average wealth per American. GDP per capita is a better measurement for examining data over time than “household income,” because what constitutes a “household” changes over time – distorting the value of that data – while what constitutes an individual does not.

So – where is the growing poverty, and exactly which deregulations caused this crisis?