Government Creates Harmful Monopolies, The Free-Market Busts Them

According to socialist economic mythology, free-markets create harmful monopolies so “trust-busting” government agencies need to regulate them. The truth is the reverse according to New York’s Taxi Cartel Is Collapsing. Now They Want a Bailout. | Foundation for Economic Education:

Think of sectors like education, mail, courts, money, or municipal taxis, and you find a reality that is the opposite of the caricature: public policy creates monopolies while markets bust them.

[…]

In New York, we are seeing a collapse as inexorable as the fall of the Soviet Union itself. The app economy introduced competition in a surreptitious way. It invited people to sign up to drive people here and there and get paid for it. No more standing in lines on corners or being forced to split fares. You can stay in the coffee shop until you are notified that your car is there.

In less than one year, we’ve seen the astonishing effects. Not only has the price of taxi medallions fallen dramatically from a peak of $1 million, it’s not even clear that there is a market remaining at all for these permits. There hasn’t been a single medallion sale in four months. They are on the verge of becoming scrap metal or collector’s items destined for eBay.

What economists, politicians, lobbyists, writers, and agitators failed to accomplished for many decades, a clever innovation has achieved in just a few years of pushing. No one on the planet could have predicted this collapse just five years ago. Now it is a living fact.

The Energy Liberation Plan

Writes Alex Epstein on The Energy Liberation Plan – Forbes:

The energy industry is the industry that powers every other to improve human life. The more affordable, plentiful, and reliable energy we can produce, the more (and better) food, clothing, shelter, transportation, medical care, sanitation, clean water, technology, and everything else we can have.

Unfortunately, because of backwards energy and environmental policies that are anti-development, not anti-pollution, we are squandering the opportunity of a generation, through blind opposition to our three most potent sources of power: hydrocarbon energy (coal, oil, and gas), nuclear energy, and hydroelectric energy.

It’s time to replace today’s energy deprivation policies with energy liberation policies.

Smugness: What John Stewart Stood For

From Jon Stewart, Patron Saint of Liberal Smugness – The New York Times

Many liberals, but not conservatives, believe there is an important asymmetry in American politics. These liberals believe that people on opposite sides of the ideological spectrum are fundamentally different. Specifically, they believe that liberals are much more open to change than conservatives, more tolerant of differences, more motivated by the public good and, maybe most of all, smarter and better informed.

The evidence for these beliefs is not good. Liberals turn out to be just as prone to their own forms of intolerance, ignorance and bias. But the beliefs are comforting to many. They give their bearers a sense of intellectual and even moral superiority. And they affect behavior. They inform the condescension and self-righteousness with which liberals often treat conservatives. They explain why many liberals have greeted Tea Partiers and other grass-roots conservatives with outsize alarm. They explain why liberals fixate on figures such as Sarah Palin and Todd Akin, who represent the worst that many liberals are prepared to see in conservatives. These liberals often end up sounding like Jon Lovitz, on “Saturday Night Live,” impersonating Michael Dukakis in 1988, gesturing toward the Republican and saying “I can’t believe I’m losing to this guy!” This sense of superiority is hardly the only cause of our polarized public discourse, but it sure doesn’t help.

And Mr. Stewart, who signed off from “The Daily Show” on Thursday, was more qualified than anybody to puncture this particular pretension. He trained his liberal-leaning audience to mock hypocrisy, incoherence and stupidity, and could have nudged them to see the planks in their own eyes, too. Instead, he cultivated their intellectual smugness by personifying it.

His claims to be objective fell flat. For instance, Mr. Stewart denied being in President Obama’s corner by re-airing a clip in which he had made fun of the Obamacare website’s rollout, as if that was the same as questioning Obamacare itself. That was par for Mr. Stewart’s course, mocking liberals’ tactics and implementation but not their underlying assumptions or ideas.

Hillary Clinton a Statist? Thank Ayn Rand

From Is Hillary Clinton a ‘statist’? – CSMonitor.com:

The term to describe an advocate of statism has been around for years but has soared in popularity in recent decades, according to Google’s Ngram Viewer. One explanation is the enduring fondness among limited-government adherents for philosopher and author Ayn Rand, whom her associate Harry Binswanger described as having “tirelessly promoted” the word’s use. She viewed statism as the notion that “man’s life and work belong to the state – to society, to the group, the gang, the race, the nation – and that the state may dispose of him in any way it pleases for the sake of whatever it deems to be its own, tribal, collective good.”

Opponents of Hillary Clinton have used seemingly every word in the book to criticize her, and “statist” appears to be gaining in popularity.

Nuclear Iran

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From Foreign Policy in the Middle East | The Ayn Rand Institute:

The diplomatic talks over Iran’s nuclear program have culminated in a deal. The particular terms—at least those that have been disclosed—are predictably ominous. Despite stringent-sounding limitations and inspections, the deal effectively clears the path for the Islamic Republic of Iran to cheat and game its way toward nuclear capability. For more than a decade, deception has been the hallmark of Iran’s quest for nuclear technology; why expect that to change now? Clearly, this is a bad deal, but the debate over what a “better” deal should look like ignores the underlying problem: to engage Iran in diplomacy is to disregard and downplay that regime’s vicious character and goals.

Cartoon by cox&forkum.

Che Seattle

Emil Venkov / Depiction: InSapphoWeTrust at Flickr (CC-A) https://www.flickr.com/photos/skinnylawyer/8002254736/

Emil Venkov / Depiction: InSapphoWeTrust at Flickr (CC-A)

From Get rid of single-family zoning? These conversations shouldn’t be secret | The Seattle Times:

Most dramatically, the committee is considering a recommendation to do away with single-family zoning — which for a hundred-plus years has been the defining feature of Seattle’s strong neighborhood feel.

“We can still be a city for everyone, but only if we give up our outdated ideal of every family living in their own home on a 5,000 square foot lot,” a draft letter from the committee co-chairs reads.

The draft report notes that “Seattle (single-family) zoning has roots in racial and class exclusion and remains among the largest obstacles to realizing the city’s goals for equity and affordability.”

The committee of citizen volunteers voted 19-3 to recommend replacing single-family zoning with a “lower density residential zone” that would allow duplexes, triplexes, rooming houses and more backyard cottages and mother-in-law units in areas now dominated by single houses on lots with a yards. It’s unclear how much of the city this would include.

Later, the committee co-chairs issued a statement saying the group “has no intention of recommending the elimination of all single family zones in the city.” But the draft report suggests the committee was considering exactly that.

“In fact, (the committee) recommends we abandon the term ‘single family zone,’ ” the draft reads.

 

WSJ: Immigrants Commit Less Violent Crime

From The Mythical Connection Between Immigrants and Crime – WSJ:

…numerous studies going back more than a century have shown that immigrants—regardless of nationality or legal status—are less likely than the native population to commit violent crimes or to be incarcerated. A new report from the Immigration Policy Center notes that while the illegal immigrant population in the U.S. more than tripled between 1990 and 2013 to more than 11.2 million, “FBI data indicate that the violent crime rate declined 48%—which included falling rates of aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and murder. Likewise, the property crime rate fell 41%, including declining rates of motor vehicle theft, larceny/robbery, and burglary.”

A separate IPC paper from 2007 explains that this is not a function of well-behaved high-skilled immigrants from India and China offsetting misdeeds of Latin American newcomers. The data show that “for every ethnic group without exception, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants,” according to the report. “This holds true especially for the Mexicans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans who make up the bulk of the undocumented population.”

It also holds true in states with large populations of illegal residents. A 2008 report by the Public Policy Institute of California found that immigrants are underrepresented in the prison system. “The incarceration rate for foreign-born adults is 297 per 100,000 in the population, compared [with] 813 per 100,000 for U.S.-born adults,” the study concludes. “The foreign-born, who make up roughly 35% of California’s adult population, constitute 17% of the state prison population.”

[…]

Every immigrant here illegally has already broken a law, though that doesn’t mean they are predisposed to crime. In a 2005 paper, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago reported that more recently arrived immigrants are even less crime-prone than their predecessors. In 1980 the incarceration rate of foreign nationals was about one percentage point below natives. A decade later that had fallen to a little more than a percentage point, and by 2000 it was almost three percentage points lower.

[…]

How do you balance border security and labor-market demand? Should relatives of people already here continue to be given an immigration preference? Is it time to move toward a skills-based immigration system similar to Canada’s? How should the federal government treat border states and cities that bear the upfront costs of illegal entries? Is walling off the southern border feasible? Would it make the U.S. safer? And what should be done about the estimated 12 million undocumented people already living here?

Obama’s Nuclear Agreement with Iran

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From Altruism and the Cave-in to Iran:

Forget about the intricate details of our nuclear agreement with Iran—the number of centrifuges permitted, the degree of uranium enrichment allowed, the amount of advance notification required before inspectors can visit a nuclear facility. There is really only one question that matters: If an Iranian nuclear capacity poses an objective threat to America—if we have reason to fear that such weapons will be used aggressively against uswhy are we relying for our safety on an agreement with the aggressor?

England has nuclear weapons. So does France. So does Israel. Yet we don’t have a need to sign treaties in which these nations promise not to take actions that threaten us. Their weapons are not a danger to us because they are essentially free countries and they do not live by conquest. They do not dictatorially subjugate people, neither their own citizens nor those of other countries. They recognize—however inconsistently—the value of liberty. They do not regard America as a fundamental enemy. A nuclear Iran, by contrast, is a danger to us. It is a theocracy which subjugates its own people and which seeks militarily to extend its power beyond its borders. If its government is willing to initiate force against us, how will it be deterred by its promise not to? A “contract” with Iran makes as much sense as a “contract” between the police and a criminal gang.

To put it differently, the only party with which an agreement to refrain from using force can have any meaning is a party with which such an agreement is unnecessary.

Why, then, is this disastrous treaty with Iran being pushed?

SCOTUS same-sex marriage ruling was right decision based on dubious reasoning

From A great decision on same-sex marriage – but based on dubious reasoning – The Washington Post:

Today’s Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage is a great result, but based on dubious reasoning. It is undoubtedly a momentous occasion for gays and lesbians around the nation. In a comparatively short time, they have moved from being a widely despised minority whose intimate relationships were criminalized in many states, to full marriage equality around the country.

For gays and lesbians seeking the right to marry and for many of us who have supported their cause, the result in today’s case matters more than the reasoning. But the Court’s legal reasoning also deserves attention, both because it is important in its own right, and because it establishes a precedent for future cases. Unfortunately, much of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion is based on dubious and sometimes incoherent logic.

Gay rights advocates have advanced several different rationales for a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. In my view, the strongest is that laws banning same-sex marriage discriminate on the basis of sex, much like laws banning interracial marriage discriminate on the basis of race – a position defended in an amicus brief I coauthored with Prof. Andrew Koppelman. But some of the other rationales for a right to same-sex marriage are also plausible, particularly the theory that laws banning it engage in unconstitutional discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Unfortunately, Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion doesn’t clearly endorse any of the various arguments previously advanced for a right to same-sex marriage, even as it to some degree nods at all of them. The result is a far from satisfying majority opinion.

What We Owe Our Soldiers on Memorial Day

From Memorial Day: What We Owe Our Soldiers – Capitalism Magazine:

Every Memorial Day, we pay tribute to the American men and women who have died in combat. With speeches and solemn ceremonies, we recognize their courage and valor. But one fact goes unacknowledged in our Memorial Day tributes: all too many of our soldiers have died unnecessarily–because they were sent to fight for a purpose other than America’s freedom.

The proper purpose of a government is to protect its citizens’ lives and freedom against the initiation of force by criminals at home and aggressors abroad. The American government has a sacred responsibility to recognize the individual value of every one of its citizens’ lives, and thus to do everything possible to protect the rights of each to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. This absolutely includes our soldiers.

Soldiers are not sacrificial objects; they are full-fledged Americans with the same moral right as the rest of us to the pursuit of their own goals, their own dreams, their own happiness. Rational soldiers enjoy much of the work of military service, take pride in their ability to do it superlatively, and gain profound satisfaction in protecting the freedom of every American, including their own freedom.

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