Freedom to Harm


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The Lasting Legacy of the Laissez Faire Revival

Thomas O. McGarity

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How much economic freedom is a good thing?
This book tells the story of how the business community, and the trade associations and think tanks that it created, launched three powerful assaults during the last quarter of the twentieth century on the federal regulatory system and the state civil justice system to accomplish a revival of the laissez faire political economy that dominated Gilded Age America.  Although the consequences of these assaults became painfully apparent in a confluence of crises during the early twenty-first century, the patch-and-repair fixes that Congress and the Obama administration put into place did little to change the underlying laissez faire ideology and practice that continues to dominate the American political economy.  In anticipation of the next confluence of crises, Thomas McGarity offers suggestions for more comprehensive governmental protections for consumers, workers, and the environment.

Thomas O. McGarity holds the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Endowed Chair in Administrative Law at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law. He is the author of The Preemption War: When Federal Bureaucracies Trump Local Juries and Reinventing Rationality: The Role of Regulatory Analysis in the Federal Bureaucracy. He lives in Austin, TX.

“Written by a master observer of the American regulatory state, Freedom to Harm offers deep insight into why our social contract is being restructured and what it means for our lives.”—Douglas A. Kysar, Joseph M. Field ’55 Professor of Law at Yale University, and author of Regulating from Nowhere: Environmental Law and the Search for Objectivity

"Freedom to Harm persuasively shows how business interests and conservative ideologues have sabotaged the U.S. regulatory system, jeopardizing hard-won protections ranging from environmental law to bank safety."—Daniel Farber, author of Lincoln's Constitution

"Freedom to Harm is a gripping and indispensable account of how the laissez-faire economics of the Gilded Age came to define—and impoverish—our own age as well."—Lisa Heinzerling, author (with Frank Ackerman) of Priceless: On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing

“A well-written, well-reasoned book that should be read by every consumer rights lawyer, as well as people involved in consumer advocacy and public-interest organizations.”—Trial
Selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2013 in the U.S. Politics Category.
ISBN: 9780300141245
Publication Date: March 19, 2013
408 pages, 6-1/8 x 9-1/4
The Preemption War

When Federal Bureaucracies Trump Local Juries

Thomas O. McGarity

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