1995 St. Louis-Warsaw Transatlantic L.J. 133 (1995)
Social Standards and Labor Market Policy in American Federalism

handle is hein.journals/slwtlj1995 and id is 139 raw text is: SOCIAL STANDARDS AND LABOR MARKET POLICY
John Kincaid*
All regulatory arrangements require cost-benefit tradeoffs rooted in the val-
ues and objectives of particular political societies or unions of states. What works
in one political society, therefore, may not work, or even be appropriate, in an-
other society. The existence of federalism and a multi-national population adds
more complications within a single political society, because of the diversity of
commercial preferences and of governments exercising varying degrees of
authority. Those governments may seek to set standards exclusively in certain
fields of social and labor policy, set standards in cooperation or collusion with
each other, or compete with each other in setting standards. Social and labor
policy making in the United States reflects all of these dynamics.
The establishment of social standards and labor policies in the United States
is strongly affected by two overreaching factors: free-market capitalism and
constitutional federalism. As a result, in social and labor standard-setting, powers
are shared and divided in two ways: (1) between government (federal, state, and
local) and civil society; and (2) between the federal (i.e., national) government
and the nation's constituent state and local governments.
The long-standing American preference for a free-market economy, as well
as the existence of independent enterprises in civil society, continually raise
questions about whether, and to what degree, government should regulate labor
and social affairs. The United States Constitution and the fifty state constitutions
are based on the idea of limited government. Therefore, intense debate generally
surrounds the enactment of social and labor standards. Once there is sufficient
voter support for government action, debate often shifts to whether laws should
be enacted by the federal government or by state and local governments. Such
debate centers, in part, on the values of federalism, while policy results are
shaped by the existence of independent state governments armed with their own
constitutional and political powers.
Robert B. and Helen S. Meyner Professor of Government and Public Service and Director of
the Meyner Center for the Study of State and Local Government, Lafayette College, Easton, PA.
Fellow and former Executive Director (1988-1994) of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergov-
ernmental Relations, Washington, D.C.; Editor, Publius: The Journal of Federalism.

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