We’ve made this point many times on this website. You know why the Colorado doesn’t flow into the ocean? Why Chernobyl blew up? Why BP felt it was safe (from a business standpoint) to drill 1 mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico? Why rain forests are being depleted around the world? Why the Aral Sea is no longer a sea? Why oceans are toxic waste dumps? Why nothing lives in the rivers in China any longer? 2 things, lack of property rights and/or big government.
It’s a familiar libertarian insight that regulation often holds government itself to lower standards than it does private actors.
Pension funds for public employees are mostly immune from the federal solvency and funding requirements that apply to their private counterparts; Federal Trade Commission rules against false advertising by profit-seeking companies do not restrain false advertising by government actors on the same topics; the FTC can fine companies massively for data breaches even as the federal government itself suffers gigantic losses of sensitive data to foreign actors with few career consequences for many of those who had dozed; anticompetitive practices that are per se illegal under antitrust law become legal when states do them, and so forth and so on.
Now David Konisky of Indiana University and Manuel Teodoro of Texas A&M, in a study published by the American Journal of Political Science entitled “When Governments Regulate Governments,” have pulled together some data: