Tag: Regulation

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Hat Tip Instapundit, Canada has become the first nation in the world to retire regulations every time you pass a new one. More

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Preservationist Instinct Run Amok

 

shutterstock_105789410This year, the New York City Landmark Preservation Commission is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. While the law that originally created the Commission was well-intended, the current rules under which the Commission operates regulate everything from the process by which landmarks are designated to the extensive restrictions on the ability of their owners to make any exterior or interior changes in their structures, down to the last ventilation duct, awning, window opening, and fire escape. The simplest way to think about landmark designation is that it puts the city in the position of part owner of the affected buildings, which then lets it decide how these buildings are maintained and altered, without having to bear anything close to the full financial burden of its decisions. As I note in my new column for Defining Ideas, the result is a deluge of government meddling in what surely ought to be private decisions. From the piece:

Rest assured that the behavior of landmark commissions and landmark preservationists alike would change rapidly if they had to raise public or private money to fund their prized projects. At this point preservationists, like everyone else, would have to learn to live within a budget, at which point they would moderate their demands so that only the best projects would be landmarked, and only in a way which minimizes the financial burdens to their owners.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Purity Before Safety (or Science)

 

shutterstock_88312414The ‘war against tobacco’ has long since ceased to have much to do with saving lives. Here’s the latest bone-headed example:

(Reuters) – Swedish Match AB should not be allowed to alter the warning label on its snus smokeless tobacco products to claim they are less harmful than cigarettes, an advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration concluded on Friday.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. We Love the ’90s! Why Doesn’t the Left?

 

Bill-ClintonHey, the X-Files is coming back. Just another sign that we are in full “I love the ’90s!” mode. It’s not just Mulder and Scully. Monica Lewinsky just gave a TED speech. Republicans are again talking about the flat tax. (In the ’90s, even the Dems were talking up the flat tax.) Hollywood is finally making an Independence Day sequel. And there’s a Clinton running for president. I wrote about that last bit of nostalgia in my The Week column. I would say most Americans remember that decade with some fondness thanks to the booming economy. But as I note in the column, those on the left have a more nuanced view of Clintonomics:

In the progressive mind, Bill Clinton quickly ejected his “putting people first” spending agenda in favor of the Alan Greenspan-approved “bond market strategy” that focused on boosting growth by cutting the deficit. (During the Obama era, Republicans adopted the strategy and renamed it “cut to grow.”) “I hope you’re all aware we’re all Eisenhower Republicans,” Clinton fumed, as recounted in Bob Woodward’s The Agenda: Inside the Clinton White House. Not long after, Clinton’s economic council was praising the much-hated — well, at least by progressives — Reagan tax cuts: “It is undeniable that the sharp reduction in taxes in the early 1980s was a strong impetus to economic growth.” Eventually, Clinton declared that the “era of big government is over.” Not a red-letter day in Liberal Land.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Hillarynomics: Bill’s Third Term or Barack’s?

 

Hillary_clinton_reuters_031215New York Times reporter David Leonhardt asserts that “for all their similarities, Hillarynomics (the phrase “Clintonomics” is already taken) and Obamanomics will not be identical.”

Maybe not, but the piece makes me think they’ll be pretty darn similar. For instance: Like President Obama, Clinton may seek middle-class tax cuts and pay for them through higher taxes on the rich. Would those tax hikes come through higher rates or scaling back tax breaks? Obama has done both. Would Clinton want to take the top statutory income tax rate above the current 39.6%, the top rate during hubby Bill’s administration? Similarly, as Times reporter Josh Barro wonders, would she take the capital gains tax rate above 20%, the current rate (not counting the 3.8% Obamacare tax) and the top rate during Clinton I? Back during her 2008 presidential campaign she said she would not.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Yes, Reaganomics Sure Does Need a 21st Century Update

 

shutterstock_177028802“The GOP is Debating Whether Reaganomics Needs an Update” is a must-read piece by Washington Post reporter Jim Tankersley. One side answers the “What would Reagan do?” question by offering a nostalgic return to the 1980s Reagan agenda. Another prefers to apply the Reagan principles — a dynamic private sector, strong families and neighborhoods, upward mobility, work — to modern economic reality with different conservative policy results. Tankersley:

Leading Republicans are clashing over a signature issue the party has treated as gospel for nearly 40 years: the idea that sharply lower taxes and smaller government are enough by themselves to drive a more prosperous middle class — and win national elections. That simple philosophy has been the foundation of every GOP platform since the days of Ronald Reagan. Now, some of the party’s presidential hopefuls — along with some top conservative economists and strategists — are sending strong signals that they believe today’s beleaguered workers need more targeted help, even if growth speeds up.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Costs of Prohibition

 

shutterstock_177594347Continuing on today’s theme of prohibition, a common and very reasonable argument made by prohibitionists is to point to all the dangers, criminality, and immorality associated with proscribed activities and ask whether society should invite more of them. The implication is that these problems are intrinsic to the activity itself and should further tip the scales toward prohibition.

Examples abound. Consider Bill Bennett & Robert White’s point in Going to Pot that modern marijuana is more potent than ever before; dangerously so, they say. Regarding a different kind of vice, prostitution opponents have, of late, focused their attention on the dangers and exploitation women and girls face, to the point that the trade is sometimes presented as being nearly synonymous with human trafficking.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. If Washington Isn’t Behind the Decline in US Startups, Then What Is?

 

021815startups

My (seemingly) never-ending mission to figure out what’s going on with the decline in American startup ventures — over the past three decades the annual entry rate of new firms fell approximately from 15% to 10% — continues with research from George Mason University’s Nathan Goldschlag and Alex Tabarrok. They investigate whether federal regulations are to blame. Apparently not:

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We’re well on our way to a conservative civil war on taxes. On one side, we’ve got my heroes at the Wall Street Journal editorial page and most recently Amity Schlaes. On the other, we’ve got my heroes Ramesh Ponnuru, Marco Rubio, and Mike Lee. Cut it out, guys!   More

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. A Connecticut Yankee in Big Brother’s Hospital

 

Last week, Tenet Healthcare — a Dallas-based, for-profit company — withdrew its bids for five struggling Connecticut hospitals. It had been trying to work with regulators for two years on just the first of the purchases. But regulators in Connecticut’s Office of Health Care Access (OHCA) insisted on imposing 47 conditions on the acquired hospitals’ operations. The conditions, backed by hospital employee unions, included a five-year ban on reductions in staffing or consolidating services. As the company explained in a statement, “The extensive list of proposed conditions to be imposed on the Waterbury Hospital transaction… has led us to conclude that the approach to regulatory oversight in Connecticut would not enable Tenet to operate the hospitals successfully for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

The deal’s collapse caught Democrats and regulators (and only Democrats and regulators) by surprise. “I expected people to talk,” said a forlorn (Democrat) Waterbury state legislator. Now, Waterbury Hospital faces the prospect of closure. The hospital has lost tens of millions of dollars each year recently, and projects similar losses for the foreseeable future. There is also a consensus that the hospital needs $50 million of capital improvements. “There is a point — and it’s very close — where there are no more options,” said the hospital’s CEO. Nearly 75% of the its patients rely on Medicare and Medicaid. Some state Democrats are now trying to spin the loss by saying the state has too many hospital beds anyway.

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This morning, the premier of my province introduced legislation to ban the sale of yellow cars, because they might be confused with school buses. http://www.canada.com/things+need+know+about+Ontario+proposed+road+rules/10311771/story.html More

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. The Rule of Culture vs. Fiat in Holidays, or, In Which I Don’t Get How My City Can Assign a Date for Trick-or-Treating

 

shutterstock_921171Does anybody else live in a city that “decides” when kids will go trick-or-treating…and it’s not on Halloween? We moved to Huntington, West Virginia seven years ago and this was the first place I’d ever even heard of such a thing. It rubs me the wrong way, because this is a cultural practice that’s evolved, independent of government, over many hundreds of years. It strikes me as a gross overstepping of authority for a city to assign a date on which the custom will be carried out by individual citizens, especially when that date isn’t when the culture says it should be. It’s almost as if the city decreed that people will open their Christmas presents on December 23rd.

I’m not all that interested in justifications for why they’re choosing a given date, though I’ve heard rumors that it’s to avoid kids being out when drunk adults are driving back from their Halloween parties. I’m mostly wondering how a city thinks it can insert itself into this aspect of private life. And what is it that the city actually does in assigning the date? Do they pass a law? Surely not. Do they have some informal resolution of the city council encouraging people? More likely, but I’ve never heard the details.

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Did you know that original version of the Volkswagon Beetle was being manufactured as recently as 2003? More

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From the Ricochet Twitter feed, via James Poulos: Using the threat of an unlimited Treasury investigation, the President and Senator Dick Durbin stopped Walgreen (WAG) from moving to Switzerland. The wreckage of some $10 billion in lost stock value for mostly Main Street investors was left as a grim reminder not to cross the government […]

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Obama, a Modern-day Lucius Mummius Achaicus?

 

The number of Obama Administration attacks on private industry are simply too numerous to count. A Google search of the Environmental Protection Agency’s “War on Coal” produces more than 2.8 million results! But the onslaught isn’t reserved only to the energy industry. The private sector “zone” is so flooded by relentless federal pressure that many of these regulatory crusades fail to get noticed anymore.

One such Presidential war that has largely escaped notice is the effort to obliterate for-profit higher education which the free market produced to fill in the gaps in service from the public and non-profit universities.

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How much time does government take from you each week, month, or year? How much time is wasted by paperwork and by unnecessary processes (undue regulations)?  More

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. About ‘The Republican Case Against Republican Economics’

 

New York Times’ columnist Thomas Edsall uses my recent The Week column, “What Conservatives Don’t Understand About the Modern U.S. Economy,” as a prompt for analysis on how Republican “reformers” are, in his view, “questioning … free-market orthodoxy.”

The subject of my critique was a recent manifesto put forward by top conservative groups after a big meeting in Washington. To me, their agenda reflected little recognition of the major challenges facing today’s economy. As I wrote:

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Piketty’s Focus is in the Wrong Place

 

It says something about how much attention the French economist Thomas Piketty’s new book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, is getting — and something about how deeply flawed Piketty’s thinking is — that I have, for the second straight week, dedicated my column at Defining Ideas to rebutting the arguments made in the book. As I’ve noted before, one of Piketty’s greatest errors is focusing on inequality to the exclusion of economic growth. We should welcome any increase in wealth to the rich or the poor that does not leave other people worse off, whether that change increases or narrows the gaps in wealth between rich and poor—any such Pareto improvement meets the gold standard of economic welfare.

As I write in this week’s column:

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Knave Detector

 

bandwidthI recently read a comment that Marx is useful to us because his philosophy allows us to easily identify fools and knaves. I’ve personally observed that the net neutrality debate is useful for much the same reason.

The FCC is currently considering a proposal that has many up in arms. Consider this, from the activist group SumOfUs:

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Reagan Had It Backwards

 

Ronald Reagan famously said: “[G]overnment’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

I think Reagan had the order wrong. From Bloomberg News:

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