Tag: Regulation

Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. To Be an Informed Healthcare Consumer

 

shutterstock_93062659I cannot imagine how it is even remotely possible to be an informed healthcare consumer under the current system. With some effort and a helpful provider, one can accumulate useful knowledge about diet and exercise, the effectiveness of various treatments, etc., all of which is well and good. But when it comes to being a consumer in a supposedly capitalist system, one cannot operate as an informed consumer. Throw in government regulation, and all bets are off.

My recent travails with obstructive sleep apnea provide a perfect example of this. I’ve had the study done because I must in order to remain employed but — were this merely a matter of personal health — I would be lost in a raging sea of costs on a night darkened by ignorance. Though I have tried to determine the out-of-pocket costs for this simple procedure, the data is simply not available. In short, I could not (and cannot) use cost as a determining factor. Allow me to explain.

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The lede is buried and screaming: Congress granted police powers to the EPA in 1988, during the Reagan administration.  More

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We’ve all been told why government safety regulations are necessary. Why, without an active government inspecting and approving products and manufacturing methods, consumers will be helpless against the rapacious greed of capitalists. Without government oversight, capitalism results in a “race to the bottom” with manufacturers cutting corners and skimping on quality to protect their profits. […]

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It’s too bad the James Pethokoukis’s post, “Should Republicans Be Focusing Way More on Deregulation Than Tax Cuts?” didn’t get more than the 17 comments it has at the time I’m writing this. Even though I answered “Neither,” it is an important question that exposes the role of the GOPe in our politics. I was […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Indigo Labor Day

 

shutterstock_87947731The front-page headline caught my attention: “Tide may be turning for working-class Americans.” Really? We just learned on Friday that a record 94 million Americans are not participating in the labor force. How can this be good news seven years after the Great Recession? Bloomberg columnist Al Hunt explains why we are in fact on the verge of Morning in America, Obama-style:

On the surface, this Labor Day holiday caps another dark year for U.S. unions and many working-class Americans.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Silicon Valley, New York City are Holding Us Back

 

NYCHA_Logo_480x480Big cities, we’re told, are engines of productivity. And that’s mostly true. Regions with capital and a high concentration of technological innovation — places like California’s Silicon Valley — employ people, drive economic growth, do all sorts of good stuff, right?

Well, not so much. And the reasons they’re lagging are interesting. Thanks to Greg Ferenstein, I found this study, from the University of Chicago, that says that it all comes down to… regulation. Land use regulation, at that. From the study:

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. As the GOP Plays with Trumpism, Hillary and the Democrats Work to Shape the New American Economy

 
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump hugs a U.S. flag as he takes the stage for a campaign town hall meeting in Derry, New Hampshire August 19, 2015. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Donald Trump’s policy views have a high degree of plasticity, even for a politician. But the retrograde version he currently espouses — mass deportation, protectionism, maybe even the gold standard — and the harsh way he espouses them have a foothold in the GOP. Columnist George Will may be correct that each “sulfurous belch from the molten interior of the volcanic Trump phenomenon injures the chances of a Republican presidency.”

And what might that mean, beyond the obvious of probable GOP defeat in November 2016? In the Financial Times, Labour Party campaign guru and Blairite Peter Mandelson warns of the potential damage if his party makes hard left Jeremy Corbyn its new leader:

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Safety Uber Alles

 

shutterstock_246422644On a the Friday episode of Radio Boston — WBUR’s local news show that is, like NPR itself, equally informative and insufferable — a guest comment perfectly encapsulated the wrong-headed way that the Left addresses problems. While discussing recent controversies regarding ride-sharing programs like Lyft and Uber, guest Shira Springer said (starts around 9’12” into the file for the whole show):

I feel sorry for the taxi drivers in that respect, but I am for regulation. I do think Lyft and Uber need to somehow be regulated. And I’m speaking here as a single woman who is fearful of contacting an Uber driver and having them come and pick me up. Let’s be honest: there have been cases locally and globally where sexual assault [has] taken place with Uber pick ups. And so you have to kind of be conscious and aware of the consequences, perhaps, of calling a driver to your home or having a driver drop you off at your home and not having them have… a background check.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Economic Debate: Kasich, Rubio, Bush Up — But Trump’s Protectionism is the Real Downer

 

DebateWith a record 24 million people watching the GOP debate, you’d think there would have been a lot more time spent on the most important issue of the day: the economy. Look at any poll. Jobs and the economy are always at the top of the list. But there was barely a mention of this on Thursday night.

The Republican party is not going to win this election unless it persuades the electorate that its primary principles of low marginal tax rates, lighter regulation, free trade, and a sound dollar are the best path to growth. Call it free-market capitalism. Call it supply-side. Call it entrepreneurship. Call it take-home pay. But the endgame is growth and prosperity.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The SEC’s New CEO Pay Rule Is Useless and Dishonest

 

To match Special Report SEC/INVESTIGATIONSA party line, three Democrats vs. two Republicans vote of SEC commissioners has finalized a rule that will require companies to disclose the ratio of the compensation of their CEOs to the median compensation of their employees. This rule is required under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial regulation law.

Like most progressive policies, this sounds good on its face to most people. “No more fat cats! No more too big to fail!” chants the collective liberal media and political establishment. But, again like most progressive policies, it’s not quite so simple.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Uber and the Costs of Employment Regulation

 

shutterstock_251175352Uber and its customers are rightly concerned over a recent ruling out of California that calls into question whether the company’s drivers can continue to be classified as independent contractors. As I note in my new column for Defining Ideas, however, the problem runs much deeper than just the application of California law. The entire legal framework is ill-equipped to deal with the complexities of modern labor markets:

The clear lesson to learn from this fiasco is that it is a hopeless task to apply traditional regulatory structures to modern arrangements, especially when they block the implementation of new business models. Indeed, it is necessary to go one step further: it makes no sense to apply these regulatory statutes to older businesses, too. Time after time, these statutes are drafted with some “typical” arrangement in mind, only for the drafters to discover that they must also try to apply the statutes to nonstandard transactions that do not fit within the mold. Rigidity is not just a problem today. It was a problem with the [Fair Labor Standards Act] and other New Deal labor statutes even when they were first passed.

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. The “Short-termism” Myth

 

A number of pundits, including Ricochet’s own James Pethokoukis, have picked up Hillary Clinton’s “short-termism” meme and run with it. Clinton is claiming that U.S. CEOs are looking no further than the next quarter or two and — instead of making long-term investments in research and capital equipment — are repurchasing company shares, buying up other companies, or paying higher dividends to shareholders.

The hidden assumption is that there are lots of long-term investment opportunities out there to which the nation’s CEOs are blind. Individual companies often make mistakes, and those that make them too often usually don’t stay in business for long. If there truly are profit opportunities just waiting to be snapped up by entrepreneurs, then you’d expect lots of people to be taking advantage of them. Yet the country’s economy remains moribund. When most companies are retrenching rather than expanding, the explanation may be “animal spirits,” mass delusion, or shared stupidity as Clinton and Pethokoukis seem to be implying. However, before reaching for such vague reasons for large-scale trends, I tend to look for systemic causes — and “systemic” all too often translates into “government.”

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Libertarian Podcast, with Richard Epstein: Uber and Innovation

 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio — brace yourself for this one — is trying to make it harder for Uber to do business in the Big Apple. This comes on the heels, of course, of California trying to upend the company’s classification of its drivers as independent contractors and protests from French cabbies who are upset about the competition.

Can innovative companies like Uber overcome the political power of the incumbent companies they’re disrupting? Is it inevitable that even the most dynamic startups will have to eventually assimilate to the culture of lobbyists and rent-seeking? Those are some of the topics I take up with Professor Epstein in this week’s installment of The Libertarian. Listen in below or subscribe to the show via iTunes or your favorite podcast app.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. HUD Makes a Further Mess Out of Housing

 

shutterstock_170154509Last week, the Department of Housing and Urban Development released its final rule on “affirmatively furthering fair housing,” a regulation intended in part to advance HUD’s goal of making sure that government agencies that receive public funds take “meaningful actions” to eliminate “historic patterns of segregation, achieve truly balanced and integrated living patterns, promote fair housing choice, and foster inclusive communities that are free from discrimination.” As I note in my new column for Defining Ideas, the result is a mess:

The tedious Final Rule, which has been hailed as “historic and overdue,” is an intellectual shipwreck. Its empty and vacuous commands are incapable of rational implementation. Yet notwithstanding HUD’s pious denials, the department is sure to continue its history of contentious litigation brought to chastise and correct local governments whose actions have not met its standard. One inherent difficulty in both the previous and current versions of the Final Rule is that its objectives are often in deep conflict with one anther.

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. What Your Appraiser Wants You To Know

 

Here I take up Claire’s challenge for folks with specialized knowledge and tell you about the job that actually pays my bills.

So you’ve decided to buy or refinance your house. Congratulations! Now, here are the things that your appraiser — and by extension, your appraisal management company (where I work) — want you to know.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Was the 1990s Clinton Economy Really That Good?

 

I was on Bill Bennett’s always-excellent “Morning in America” radio program today, and a caller asked me — basically — to provide talking points on why the 1990s Clinton economic boom “wasn’t really that good.” (The caller probably wanted ammo against liberal coworkers or relatives when they used Bill Clinton’s economic record as reason to support Hillary Clinton.) My response was, “Well, the Clinton years really were pretty good!”

How could I say otherwise? Why would I say otherwise? The economy grew by nearly 4% annually during the Clinton years, creating 24 million jobs and driving the unemployment rate to a superlow 3.9%. Incomes and stocks were way up, inflation and interest rates were way down. Budget deficit? What budget deficit?

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Janet Yellen’s Back-to-the-’50s Interest Rates

 

Janet Yellen told us last week that the fed funds target rate will be raised slightly later this year. But after that, future rate hikes will be small and gradual over the next several years. In fact, we may never have true normalization (4 percent). In my view, Yellen is offering a back-to-the-’50s approach to interest rates. And she’s right, though for many wrong reasons.

For average folks, what might this policy mean? I’ll take a guess: No boom and no bust. No inflation and no recession. All the post-war recessions were preceded by an inverted Treasury yield curve, where short rates are higher than long rates. That won’t happen for many years. Plus, upward oil-price spikes lead recessions, but we’re now in a downward energy-price cycle.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Libertarian Podcast: Should We Worry About Income Inequality?

 

This week on The Libertarian podcast, I’m leading Richard Epstein through a discussion of income inequality. Is it the disaster that liberals are making it out to be? What do progressive proposals to address the situation get wrong? What are some free market approaches that could help the poor? And are conservatives destined to lose this fight because of the Left’s appeal to emotion? All that below or on your mobile device if you subscribe to The Libertarian via iTunes or your favorite podcast service.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Mike Rounds, Earning That Senate Seat

 

RoundsWe have a bad habit when it comes to US Senators: the guys we pay the most mind to tend to be the ones who demonstrate the best stagecraft (as I write this, Rand Paul is filibustering the Patriot Act on the Senate floor). That has its place, but there’s also a lot to be said for the guys who roll up their sleeves and do grunt work that’s vital for the country but probably won’t ever earn them a single vote. Put South Dakota freshman Mike Rounds in that latter category. As far as I’m concerned, he can have that seat as long as he wants it. From Lydia Wheeler at The Hill:

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) is planning to introduce a resolution Wednesday to create a committee to review rules enacted by federal agencies. The Regulation Sensibility Through Oversight Restoration, or RESTORE, Resolution would establish a Joint Select Committee to review new rules, hold hearings on the effects of those already in place and recommend ways to reduce regulatory overreach. The committee will also analyze whether it’s feasible for Congress to create a permanent committee to review all rules with economic impacts of $50 million or more before they are enacted.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. How Dirigiste Are We?

 

AAA red tape vs small businessThis CNNMoney list of the best jobs in America caught my eye. Obviously, it’s subjective, but someone thought these sounded like great bets for “big growth, great pay, and satisfying work.” Here’s the methodology they used.

Go through the list, and give me your best guess: What percentage of the week do these people devote, in some way, to dealing with the government? What percentage of their income comes in one or another fashion from the government? How many of these jobs exist for the purpose of navigating between citizens and the government?

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