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Freedom to Harm

The Lasting Legacy of the Laissez Faire Revival

The latest book from CPR Member Scholar and board member Thomas O. McGarity, Freedom to Harm tells the story of the 30-year campaign by the business community, together with the trade associations and think tanks it created, that launched three powerful assaults during the last quarter of the 20th century on the federal regulatory system and the state civil justice system. Their goal: a revival of the laissez faire political economy that dominated Gilded Age America.

McGarity demonstrates how the this largely successful campaign led to a confluence of crises that revealed the bankruptcy of the laissez faire political economy. He goes on to describe how the Obama Administration missed the unique opportunity those crises presented to restore the appropriate balance between economic freedom, corporate responsibility and corporate accountability. In anticipation of the next confluence of crises, the book offers suggestions for more comprehensive governmental protections for consumers, workers, and the environment. 

Thomas O. McGarity holds the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Endowed Chair in Administrative Law at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law. He is the author of The Preemption War: When Federal Bureaucracies Trump Local Juries and Reinventing Rationality: The Role of Regulatory Analysis in the Federal Bureaucracy. He lives in Austin, Texas.

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