OK, that may be an overstatement. When I was in graduate school, I was a “reader” (meaning I graded exams) for a course on recent US history taught by Richard Abrams. What I took away from that course was that virtually all government intervention in or regulation of the economy was done at the request of some part of the business community – most often entrenched incumbents lobbying the government for protection from new entrants.
Colleen Dunlavy of the University of Wisconsin has a blog post about the history of government intervention in the economy. Most critics of government intervention take one or both of two positions: (a) it doesn’t work or (b) it’s un-American (read: socialist). Dunlavy pretty much destroys argument (b) and, along the way, gets in some blows to argument (a). It’s useful reading as we head into a season of expanded government intervention and regulation in the financial sector.