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No Freedom without RegulationThe Hidden Lesson of the Subprime Crisis$
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Joseph William Singer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780300211672

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300211672.001.0001

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Why a Free and Democratic Society Needs Law

Why a Free and Democratic Society Needs Law

(p.26) 2 Why a Free and Democratic Society Needs Law
No Freedom without Regulation

Joseph William Singer

Yale University Press

Chapter 2 explains why regulation is essential to both freedom and democracy. One of the underlying causes of the subprime crisis was the failure of bankers and other market actors to understand the benefits of regulation. Rather than making money within prevailing legal rules and practices, the banks evaded them. Our national penchant to demonize "regulation" is an underlying factor in explaining how the subprime crisis happened. I will argue that, far from interfering with our liberty and property rights, regulation is just another word for the rule of law, and a free and democratic society needs law. We can better see this truth by looking at history. The freedoms cherished by conservatives and liberals alike emerged from a historical process that revolted against feudalism, aristocracy, slavery, racial segregation, and gender discrimination. Free and democratic societies outlaw market and property arrangements that are inconsistent with our conceptions of freedom and equality. Without that legal infrastructure — without those regulations — we would be neither free nor empowered to own property; nor would we have the benefits that markets give us.

Keywords:   feudalism, aristocracy, slavery, democracy, segregation, race, racial, gender, sex, discrimination, freedom, liberty, free, markets, property, hierarchy, status, subprime

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