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Regulatory arts and sciences: Committee gathers new ideas

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By John Bartlit

 Rules have always been essential to sports, society and the economy. Regulation is the process of using rules. As with any process, a focus on efficiency pays off.   
Big-time tennis nowadays settles disputed line calls with a tool called Hawk-Eye. In 10 seconds, the system’s computer reconstructs the ball’s flight from sets of camera data and shows the line and landing spot on the big screen. Fans cheer for the gee whiz verdict and tennis resumes.
In the old days, a close line call was the start of John McEnroe’s barking infamies at the chair umpire in three-minute-long tirades. Remember?
The McEnroe model still reigns in the regulatory world. In stark contrast, efficiency depends on Hawk-Eye ideas.
The analogy pertains to much more than a tool in pro tennis. It describes two worlds apart – the old ways and the way ahead.   
Daily news is the report card on the old ways. How is regulation faring in the world?
Economic losses from regulatory failures grow larger, more frequent and glaring. Review the news: losses from the BP oil spill, from cave-ins of mines and mine wastes, from nature’s risks to Japanese nuclear plants, from polluted water sources, from recalls of unsafe food and from overgrown gambles on Wall Street.


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