5 books — the Governor of Indiana

Mitch Daniels on The Road to Serfdom. From the interview:

You’re a sitting governor [of Indiana], you’ve been an OMB [US Office of Management and Budget] director and you deal day to day with people who want to plan stuff – everything from zoning commissions to the legislature. How does this book inflect how you deal with that?

With humility and caution. I think I would say that this is something you’ll see in the Postrel book as well, probably in several of these books. They led me to a view that government clearly has to establish rails around certain behaviour and economic activity. But simplicity, clarity of the rules, a caution about over-prescriptiveness in how to achieve a certain outcome or prevent a certain externality from happening – I think I probably first saw a lot of that in Hayek.

For instance, I remember my first day on this job. We did a ton of things, we wanted to emphasise that a lot of change was afoot. But I went over to see our biggest regulatory agency – we had hundreds of people in the room or on the phone. It was an environmental management agency and I told them then, and I’ve told them since, that we did not intend to weaken or moderate a single rule that I knew of, in terms of environmental standards. But I said that what we were determined to do was to make regulation consistent, predictable and quick. We worked very hard on that. We measured to see if we were getting there. So I guess that, if you say, correctly, that this job involves overseeing necessary regulatory activity, that mentality came in some part from books like Hayek’s.

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