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Democracy and the Origins of the American Regulatory State$
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Samuel DeCanio

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780300198782

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300198782.001.0001

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State Autonomy in Democratic Societies

(p.238) Conclusion
Democracy and the Origins of the American Regulatory State

Samuel DeCanio

Yale University Press

This book has explored the origins of discretionary regulatory authority in federal bureaucracies, suggesting that it was a consequence of the regulatory debates that ensued when the Civil War came to an end. It has shown that the American regulatory state was a reaction against populist agitation that focused first on monetary policy and then on railroad regulation. It has also considered how the Democratic Party's ideological shift led certain Republicans to endorse bureaucracy to insulate regulatory decisions from public opinion. This concluding chapter discusses the informational problems that existed in the nineteenth century and how they have been exacerbated by certain political conditions in contemporary America. Finally, it examines how voter ignorance and the vast scope of public decisions have resulted in state autonomy in democratic societies.

Keywords:   regulatory authority, Civil War, monetary policy, railroad regulation, Democratic Party, bureaucracy, public opinion, voter ignorance, state autonomy, regulatory state

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