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23 CommLaw Conspectus 1 (2014-2015)

handle is hein.journals/cconsp23 and id is 1 raw text is: 











THE PROCRUSTEAN PROBLEM WITH

PRESCRIPTIVE REGULATION



Maureen   K. Ohlhausen










I.  INTRODUCTION

  Thank  you to the board of the CommLaw Conspectus for asking me to write
an introduction to this edition of the journal. Several articles in this edition
examine the need for regulation of fast-changing industries. As a Commis-
sioner of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for the past two and a half
years, and as a regulatory lawyer in private and public practice before my nom-
ination, I have had a close-up view of the effects and effectiveness of regula-
tion. Thus, it seems apt to introduce this volume with my own thoughts based
on those experiences.
  I  have one  key message:  prescriptive regulation, particularly of fast-
changing industries, risks becoming procrustean. In Greek mythology, Pro-
crustes was a rogue blacksmith, a son of the sea god Poseidon, who offered
weary travelers a bed for the night. He built an iron bed especially for his tired
guests, but there was a catch: if the visitor was too small for the bed, Procrustes
would forcefully stretch the guest's limbs until they fit. If the visitor was too
large for the bed, Procrustes would amputate limbs as necessary to fit the guest
to the bed. Eventually, Procrustes met his demise at the hand of Greek hero
Theseus, who fit Procrustes to his own bed by cutting off his head.
  The  story of Procrustes warns against our human tendency to squeeze com-

  1  Commissioner, U.S. Federal Trade Commission. The views expressed are the au-
thor's own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Federal Trade Commission.


1

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