Regulation Is Not So Popular, Either

A recent Harris Poll, discussed in this section, found people less trustful of many industries than they’d been a few years ago. One might expect this to coincide with an upswing of sentiment for more regulation of those sectors. Oddly, it hasn’t. As you can see from the chart, which excerpts new Harris polling on the matter, there is a big constituency for more regulation. But with the exception of the oil industry, the numbers are lower than in 2003, not higher. The number of people favoring more regulation of health-insurance companies is off 11 percentage points, as is the number who want tighter control of life insurers. There were also drops in the more-regulation vote for pharmaceuticals (9 percentage points), telephones (7 points), packaged foods (7 points), tobacco (6 points) and cars (5 points). And for all the wailing about gasoline prices this year, there was a mere uptick of 2 percentage points in the number of respondents favoring more regulation of the oil industry.