Dilemmas for the Regulator

by Dan Fenn



The article focuses on the dilemmas for the regulator. There are two determinants of the type of person who ends up as a regulator, the method of selection and the criteria for selection. In the first place, the regulator cannot help but be struck by the enormous advantages of his position. He is an independent operator in an independent agency. He has a term appointment, he cannot be removed unless he is caught in illegal activities. The Secretary of Commerce can be ordered by the President to make decisions against the exportation of walnut logs even contrary to his better judgment, but the President has no way of enforcing an order to the FCC commissioner to vote for X applicant for a TV channel in preference to Y. In the society, elections are the principal mechanism for determining what the public interest, in a large sense, is at any given time. The author says that the difficulty, is that the regulatory agency does not very rapidly or very satisfactorily follow that lead. The reason lies partly in the extraordinary carelessness with which commissioners are selected.

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