Federal (nation-wide) regulations offer many benefits: especially uniformity & stability.
- Uniformity – I mean, really, what large-scale company/nonprofit wants to keep track of 50 different sets of state-level regulations!
- Stability – If you are fearful that regulations will change, that uncertainty causes hesitation and slows economic activity. One set of federal regulations would be far more stable (unchanging) than 50 state-level sets of regulation.
But of course, if there is one set of federal regulations then any flaws in it effect everyone – and are harder to revoke than state or local regulations.
Short version – Allow each state to experiment, but over time require states to adopt the most “successful” of the experiments so that eventually the entire country is on a uniform regime.
Details – When the national legislature determines that a given area of law/regulation should be unified across the nation, congress follows this process:
- Design a uniform “national metric” by which each state governments’ regulatory regime will be evaluated. This national metric is made public. For X years, each state is its own laboratory of democracy, trying out whatever system it wishes (or continuing/tweaking the system it already had).
- After X years, each state’s regulatory regime is evaluated according to the national metric. The regimes in the top Y% are put onto a Choice List. Each state legislature then must adopt one of the regulatory regimes from the Choice List.
- In another X years, all states must adopt the highest scoring of the remaining regimes.
If this unified regime requires adjusting in the future, the same process (or an abbreviated one) could be used.
- Congress decides we need to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but without killing economic growth. They create a national metric that represents a tenuous consensus on how best to measure the desired result.
- At the start of year 6, Congress publishes its Choice List, detailing the top 5 states’ regimes and the National Metric scores. ME=80, CA=72, WA=64, MA=60, RI=58.
- Each state legislature votes to adopt one of the 10 Choice List regimes. 20 states go with the ME plan, 15 with CA, 10 with WA, 2 with MA, and 3 with RI.
- At the start of year 11, the scores come in as follows: ME=82, CA=80, WA=89, MA=71, RI=50. As you can see, most regimes improved their performance over the prior years, however, they did not do so equally! WA went from the 3rd ranked option to the 1st ranked. As such, in year 12, every state is required to adopt WA’s regulatory regime.
How This Addresses the Need:
- In 2X years the nation has a clear, unified regulatory regime that everyone must abide by. No complications from 50 different sets of laws, relative stability of the regime is in place.
- The process by which this regime was chosen is (I think) less susceptible to the large scale political-only influences and allows the 50 “laboratories of democracy” to have their try, but only the best system was allowed to survive. Also, the “one big mistake hits everyone” will occur less frequently/severely because each system is put to the test.
What do you think?