How Americans View Government and the Regulation of Enterprise

May 14, 2010

The financial crisis of 2008 and resultant economic problems have understandably shaken Americans’ confidence in business. Despite this, Americans are also quite wary of greater government regulation of enterprise, according to a new report from my colleague Karlyn Bowman at the American Enterprise Institute. 

When asked whether too much or too little regulation of business worries them more, 57% of Americans say too much. What’s more, half of Americans think government should regulate less than it already does, with 24% saying more and 23% saying the level of regulation is about right. Meanwhile 57% of Americans believe big government is a greater potential threat to the country’s future, compared with 26% who think big business is a greater threat.

What explains the support for free enterprise despite the economic troubles? As AEI President Arthur Brooks will outline in a new book he is releasing next week, the free enterprise system is at the core of American culture. Even when the economy is shaky, Americans have abiding confidence in free enterprise to improve lives and worry about harming that engine of progress. 

The National Chamber Foundation and AEI will be co-hosting an event in July on regulation where we plan to examine the surprising return of price regulation, among other recent developments. Please check back for details.