The Public Interest

Exceptional Regulation

R. Shep Melnick

Fall 1986

REMEMBER “American exceptionalism”? According to many com- parative studies, what distinguishes the United States from other advanced industrial democracies is its attachment to the free market, its ideological consensus, and its distrust of large government.  Yet a number of recent studies have shown that regulatory policy is far more stringent, more adversarial, and more ideological in the United States than in Western Europe. Two recent books, Pietro Nivola’s The Politics of Energy Conservation and David Vogel’s National Styles of Regulation, contribute to this assault on the conventional wisdom and provide a more accurate picture of contemporary American politics.

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