America’s culture wars threaten its single market

Living in California, as Schumpeter does, you would think licence plates called it the Red Tape State, not the golden one. Last August it led the world in announcing a ban on new gasoline-fuelled cars by 2035. In December its petrol prices soared higher than anywhere else in America, leading to an onerous cap on refiners’ profit margins. Early this year you could barely find an egg to fry, partly because of an animal-welfare measure from 2018 that keeps eggs off its shop shelves if they are laid in cages.

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California has the privilege of being a colossal market irresistible to manufacturers, so some of its rules become standards well beyond its borders. But it is not unique in wanting to go its own way. Across America, a mishmash of regulations from state to state differ on everything from how to manufacture lifts and how to produce liquor to how to run a bank. In theory…

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