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October 20th, 2017 at 11:57 am
Stat of the Day: Everywhere Guns Are Banned, Murder Rates Increase
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

John Lott, our favorite economist at least in the arena of criminology and Second Amendment scholarship, cogently summarizes the actual, real-world, data-based sociological effect of “gun control” laws:

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While gun bans (either a ban on all guns or on all handguns) have been imposed in many places, every time guns have been banned, murder rates have gone up.

One would think that one time, just out of simple randomness, murder rates would have gone down or at least stayed the same.  Yet in every single case for which we have crime data both before and after the ban, murder rates have gone up, often by huge amounts.”

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It’s almost as if more guns mean less crime.

October 13th, 2017 at 11:43 am
Stat of the Day: Trump & McConnell Quickly Reshaping Judiciary
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Whatever one’s opinion of Donald Trump, his tweets or his legislative accomplishments to date, he has unmistakably achieved great progress on the issue perhaps foremost among his supporters’ minds.  Along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – Kentucky), whose efforts began while Barack Obama was still president after Justice Antonin Scalia’s passing, Trump is already reshaping the nation’s judicial branch, as The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel details:

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Mr. Trump has now nominated nearly 60 judges, filling more vacancies than Barack Obama did in his entire first year.  There are another 160 court openings, allowing Mr. Trump to flip or further consolidate conservative majorities on the circuit courts that have the final say on 99% of federal legal disputes.  This project is the work of Mr. Trump, White House Counsel Don McGahn and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.  Every new president cares about the judiciary, but no administration in memory has approached appointments with more purpose than this team.”

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October 6th, 2017 at 11:58 am
Image of the Day: More Guns, Less Crime in the U.S.
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In this week’s Liberty Update, we shatter three noxious myths that underlie Second Amendment restrictionists’ agenda.  This helpful map illustrates one of them: their claim that the prevalence of firearms in the U.S. has resulted in a a high murder rate compared with the rest of the world.

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Gun Controllers Myth Shattered

Gun Controllers' Myth Shattered

October 2nd, 2017 at 12:10 pm
Image of the Day: Why High-Tax Blue State Liberals Hate Tax Reform
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Leftists constantly claim to support higher taxes, but then whine the loudest when they can put their money where their collective mouth is.

Under President Trump’s proposed framework, taxpayers in blue high-tax states would lose the writeoff for high state and local taxes that they currently enjoy.  No wonder Chuck Schumer hates the idea of tax reform so much:

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Blue State Tax Writeoffs

Blue State Tax Writeoffs

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September 25th, 2017 at 2:46 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Lineup
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CDT to 6:00 p.m. CDT (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as she hosts her radio show, “Your Turn: Meeting Nonsense with Commonsense.” Today’s guest lineup includes:

4:00 CDT/5:00 pm EDT:  Craig Shirley, Bestselling Author and Presidential Historian – “Citizen Newt: The Making of a Reagan Conservative”;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Glenn Spencer, Vice President, Workforce Freedom Initiative, a campaign of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform 2017 Lawsuit Climate Survey – Ranking the States;

4:45 CDT/5:45 pm EDT:  Bob Dorigo-Jones, Senior Fellow for the Center for America – How U.S. Labor Rules Negatively Impact Jobs;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  Phil Kerpen, President of American Commitment: —Why the new Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson Senate Health Care bill should be passed by Congress immediately;

5:15 CDT/6:15 pm EDT:  Steve Bucci, Visiting Fellow, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy at The Heritage Foundation – Nuclear Problems with Iran and North Korea; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs – Donor Privacy, Ending IRS Abuse, College Faculties, Air Traffic Control, and Internet Sales Tax.

Listen live on the Internet here. Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330.

September 22nd, 2017 at 1:55 pm
Air Traffic Control Proposal: Making Airlines Tax Collectors?
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Beware policy proposals waving the “privatization” banner that don’t constitute true privatization at all, and threaten to actually worsen the situation.

The latest example:  Efforts to restructure the U.S. air traffic control system, which would likely repeat the mistakes of such federal boondoggles as Amtrak and the U.S. Post Office.

Alongside numerous other conservative and libertarian organizations, CFIF has maintained serious concerns over H.R. 2997, the “21st Century AIRR Act.”  Those concerns include, among other flaws:

  • Greater empowerment of air traffic controller unions, by maintaining centralized monopoly power over air traffic control while expanding their authority over such matters as personnel changes, salary caps and mandatory retirement age (currently at age 56, compared to 65 for pilots), which explains why the unions favor the proposal;
  • It would increase the U.S. budget deficit by $20 billion between 2017 and 2026, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) itself;
  • The U.S. Department of Defense recently weighed in to say, “The establishment of a new entity separate from the FAA raises serious concerns regarding the disposition of certain unique National Defense procedures, programs and policy,” adding that, “it is significant to note that the DoD relies on FAA ‘command and control’ capabilities in the execution of the national defense mission”;
  • The proposed replacement air traffic control entity would possess authority to impose new taxes and user fees without Congressional oversight, meaning higher costs for American consumers, which is far from the sort of market competition that true “privatization” would offer.

On that latter point, Andrew Langer of the Institute for Liberty raises an ominous concern in his recent commentary in The Washington Times:

[W]e’ve been told that the new entity will be self-funded, in this case by a user fee.  As always, I’m skeptical taxpayers won’t ultimately have to bail out a GSE, but with the ATC proposal, it’s really about control.  Proponents have made clear that their real motivation is to shift the tax burden to other segments of the industry.  Ian Adams, a proponent of separating ATC, recently argued that it would reallocate the tax burden among the ‘fees its users pay,’ including general aviation.

The only privatization will be that the authorization and taxing authority of Congress will be supplanted by authority of one segment of an industry to tax another with no oversight.  If the airlines were granted more monopoly power and gained taxing authority from Congress, they have shown time and again that they would abuse that power.  They have increased their fees on passengers by over $7 billion.  Now they want to phase out their fuel and excise tax for a flat user-fee tax that would get levied disproportionately at economy class passengers.  I’m always in favor of getting rid of taxes, but this is a tax by another name, without the political accountability to keep it from rising in perpetuity.

And, since there would be no accountability from anyone to stop it or make sure this entity is being managed properly, it’s a safe bet that ultimately all taxpayers will pay more in the form of a bailout.”

That is among the reasons the American Conservative Union Foundation (ACUF) last week announced its opposition to the proposed restructuring, saying that it, “would gladly stand in support of true policy efforts to privatize our air traffic control system that better reflect the ideals of privatization – those that align with a more robust free market and exhibit a true transfer of power from public to private hands.”

Well said.  At this point, the proposal simply doesn’t amount to the type of true privatization that merits support from conservatives and libertarians across America.

September 18th, 2017 at 12:19 pm
Great News: Americans Overwhelmingly Oppose Internet Sales Tax 66% to 21%
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

For a long list of reasons that we’ve consistently highlighted, an internet sales tax allowing state authorities to tax people and businesses far beyond their borders is a destructive, indefensible idea.

On that front, there’s great news to report.  According to a fresh Rasmussen survey, this is one of those encouraging areas where fairness, policy wisdom and public opinion are in accord:

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A majority of Americans do at least some shopping online, and they are not fans of taxing those purchases.  A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 66% of American adults oppose a sales tax in their state on items purchased online, even if the store they buy from is not in their state.  Just 21% favor an internet sales tax, while 13% are not sure.”

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As much-needed comprehensive tax reform negotiations begin in Washington, some are advocating allowing an internet sales tax under the false banner “Marketplace Fairness Act” as part of the deal.  It’s encouraging to see that American voters aren’t buying it, no pun intended.

September 8th, 2017 at 1:32 pm
Image of the Day: U.S. Investor Confidence Reaches Highest Point Since 2000
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

From Gallup, confidence among American investors reaches its highest point since 2000.

Sidenote:  What explains that dramatic upward jolt from 40 in November of last year to 134 today?  We’ll probably never know.

American Investor Confidence Jumps

American Investor Confidence Jumps

September 5th, 2017 at 3:42 pm
Image of the Day: Drill, Baby, Drill
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Remember when leftists lectured Americans that we couldn’t drill our way to energy independence?

On May 27, 2010, Barack Obama preened, “You never heard me say, ‘Drill, baby, drill.  Because we can’t drill our way out of the problem.”

Well…

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U.S. Becomes Net Exporter

U.S. Becomes Net Exporter

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August 28th, 2017 at 2:53 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Lineup
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CDT to 6:00 p.m. CDT (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as she hosts her radio show, “Your Turn: Meeting Nonsense with Commonsense.” Today’s guest lineup includes:

4:00 CDT/5:00 pm EDT:  Nan Swift, Federal Affairs Manager for the National Taxpayers Union – Renewable Fuel Standards and ObamaCare;

4:15 CDT/5:15 pm EDT:  Sarah Westwood, White House Reporter for The Washington Examiner – President Trump and the Republicans;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Trey Kovacs, Policy Analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute – Obama Overtime Rule and Compulsory Union Dues;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  William Conti, Partner at Washington, DC. Office of Baker & Hostetler – Inside Politics; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs – Local Business Act and Affirmative Action.

Listen live on the Internet here. Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330.

August 25th, 2017 at 4:57 pm
California’s Proposed “Internet Privacy” Bill Is Nothing of the Sort
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

An unfortunate byproduct of life in a democratic system is that complex policy matters are often reduced to simplistic slogans, and politicians exploit attractive terms to peddle harmful proposals.

California offers a textbook example, where legislators are pushing something called the “California Broadband Internet Privacy Act” (A.B. 375) in the name of “protecting consumer privacy.”

The reality is far different.  In truth, the bill constitutes crony capitalism on behalf of some industries at the expense of others, and would stifle innovation and undermine rather than boost consumer welfare.

This battle was already fought and won at the federal level, when Congress employed the Congressional Review Act to rescind an Obama Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rule to the same effect.

Supporters of the proposed legislation will tell you that it’s necessary to protect consumers against internet service providers who seek to gather and sell private information.  In that vein, the bill would require that consumers “opt in” before service providers could use their data to improve service or tailor advertising to consumer preferences or needs.  Current law, however, already allows consumers to “opt out” from collection of non-sensitive data if they choose.  Notably, few consumers choose to do so, because that would interfere with their ability to enjoy more customized online service that they prefer.

It’s also important to note that current law also already requires that consumers “opt in” to allow access to particularly sensitive personal information.

So what the proposed law would do is impose a one-size-fits-all mandate that most customers currently don’t choose.

Secondly, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) already possesses authority to protect consumers against privacy violations and punish improper data collection should it occur.  That’s how the system has worked for over two decades while the internet flourished like no innovation in human history.  And that’s why the FTC expressed opposition to this sort of “privacy” legislation at the federal level before it was quashed.  California’s attorney general is also empowered to investigate and seek legal remedy for “unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business acts or practices” under California’s Unfair Competition Law.

Even former Democratic California Congressman Henry Waxman observed that this type of law would “undermine beneficial uses of data” and “could result in tangible competitive and consumer harm.”

Another flaw in the bill is that it conspicuously exempts powerful content companies like Google, which obviously earn their billions by monetizing consumer data for purposes of advertising and sales.  Those content companies access customer personal information just as much as service providers, if not more.  After all, consumers tend to access the internet via different devices and networks, whereas they tend to use the same search engines (i.e., Google) and visit the same content sites.

Accordingly, the proposed bill amounts to crony capitalism benefitting one set of companies at the expense of another set.

California’s proposed law would create the additional problem of imposing burdens that other states don’t impose, thereby creating a “spaghetti bowl” regulatory effect for companies that offer nationwide products and services.

Online privacy remains a natural and important concern for consumers in California and across America.  But we must also beware politicians pushing laws that undermine consumer welfare, threaten the thriving internet sector and amount to crony capitalism by picking winners and losers in the marketplace.

August 23rd, 2017 at 10:20 am
Broadcasters’ “Next Gen” Proposal to FCC Would Cost Consumers
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

The new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been one of the most consistently outstanding agencies of the Trump Administration in terms of restoring regulatory sanity after eight years of politicized abuse throughout the Obama Administration.

Unfortunately, the FCC remains under assault from groups seeking to leverage federal policy toward its own advantage, and continued vigilance is critical.

In just the latest illustration, broadcasters have begun pressuring the FCC to allow television stations to begin transmitting signals in a new “ATSC 3.0″ format.  Also referred to as “Next Gen,” such a transition would impact every American consumer who watches television, and not necessarily for the better.  In addition to costing taxpayers, it could create a de facto federal mandate on television service providers.

First, the ATSC 3.0 format is incompatible with existing televisions and set-top boxes, meaning that Americans who wanted to simply continue watching television would have to purchase new equipment or join a pay-TV provider that had spent the time and money transitioning its equipment.  That, of course, would be a cost transferred to customers.

Second, the proposed transition could also mean weaker signals for consumers who choose over-the-air broadcast.  That’s because it would involve simulcasting from facilities with smaller or new coverage areas, placing rural voters in particular jeopardy.

Additionally, ATSC 3.0 could bring more dreaded blackouts, since broadcasters could seek to force pay-TV providers to carry ATSC 3.0 signals under threat of blackout (a tactic broadcasters have exploited in the past on behalf of such efforts as ratcheting up retransmission fees).  Accordingly, broadcasters can leverage their government-provided bargaining position to obtain higher fees for themselves via threat of consumer blackouts, which they’ll surely employ in their effort to force consumers and providers to purchase the new equipment necessary for reception.

That, of course, translates to higher costs for consumers, or giving up their favored programming altogether.

The better alternative is to let market forces work, by making the Next Gen transition wholly voluntary.  Broadcasters operate under an umbrella of government license, which allows them to hold consumers hostage in order to increase revenues.  Accordingly, the FCC should continue its good works by rejecting broadcasters’ attempt to leverage federal bureaucracy to achieve a new government handout to be subsidized by consumers.  Next Gen should be a truly voluntary standard that doesn’t leave consumers holding the bill for the broadcasters’ innovation.

August 18th, 2017 at 1:51 pm
Image of the Day: A Powerful Tribute to Free Market Capitalism
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Economist Deirdre McCloskey will soon release her new book entitled “Bourgeois Equality:  How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World.” It it, she describes the unprecedented transformation  and improvement of human wellbeing through the power of economic freedom, as illustrated by this graph:

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The Power of Free Markets

The Power of Free Markets

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As McCloskey summarizes, that’s the result of the free market revolution:

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[I]n the two centuries after 1800, the trade-tested goods and services available to the average person in Sweden or Taiwan rose by a factor of 30 or 100.  Not 100 percent, understand – a mere doubling – but in its highest estimate a factor of 100, nearly 10,000 percent, and at least a factor of 30, or 2,900 percent.  The Great Enrichment of the past two centuries has dwarfed any of the previous and temporary enrichments.  Explaining it is the central scientific task of economics and economic history, and it matters for any other sort of social science or recent history…

The modern world was made by a slow-motion revolution in ethical convictions about virtues and vices, in particular by a much higher level than in earlier times of toleration for trade-tested progress – letting people make mutually advantageous deals, and even admiring them for doing so, and especially admiring them when Steve Jobs-like they imagine betterments.  The change, the Bourgeois Revaluation, was the coming of a business-respecting civilization, an acceptance of the Bourgeois Deal:  ’Let me make money in the first act, and by the third act I will make you all rich.’”

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It’s something for which we should all remain grateful, and hopefully more readily defend against the eternal onslaught of statism.

August 14th, 2017 at 4:34 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Lineup
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CDT to 6:00 p.m. CDT (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as she hosts her radio show, “Your Turn: Meeting Nonsense with Commonsense.” Today’s guest lineup includes:

4:00 CDT/5:00 pm EDT:  Adam Michel, Policy Analyst with the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation – Tax Reform;

4:15 CDT/5:15 pm EDT:  Angela Logomasini, Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute – Sound Science;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Tzvi Kahn, Senior Iran Analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies – Iran;

4:45 CDT/5:45 pm EDT:  Phil Kerpen, President of American Commitment – Senator Bob Menendez Trial and Control of the Senate;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  Quin Hillyer; Contributing Editor of National Review magazine, a Senior Editor for The American Spectator magazine and nationally recognized authority on the American Political Process – ObamaCare; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs – Climate Hypocrisy and Al Gore.

Listen live on the Internet here. Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330.

August 14th, 2017 at 11:45 am
Image of the Day: U.S. Trails on Corporate Tax Reform
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

If you’re concerned about headwinds facing American international competitiveness, the first place to isolate and correct the problem is on corporate taxes.  Courtesy of the Senate Joint Economic Committee, this shows in disturbing relief not only how the U.S. maintains the developed world’s highest rate, but also how global competitors continue to move in the right direction and leave us in the dust:

Stagnant U.S. Corporate Tax Rate

Stagnant U.S. Corporate Tax Rate

The good news is that comprehensive tax reform efforts are getting underway on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.  It’s been three decades since we achieved significant reform under Ronald Reagan, and we mustn’t blow this golden opportunity.

August 9th, 2017 at 12:12 pm
Image of the Day: Americans Pay Less for Electricity — a LOT Less
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Want to pay a lot more for electricity?

If so, you  can move to Europe and other more righteous “green” economies and make your dreams come true:

Americans Enjoy Lower Electricity Rates

Americans Enjoy Lower Electricity Rates

We recently noted how if most European and other developed nations were U.S. states, they’d be comparatively poor ones.  As we further noted, that’s especially true when one adjusts for comparative cost of living, which the comparison above helps illustrate.

August 4th, 2017 at 12:00 pm
Letter Offers Helpful Historical Perspective on the Israeli/Palestinian Temple Mount Metal Detector Controversy
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

After three terrorist gunmen killed two Israeli police officers last month at the Temple Mount outside of Jerusalem’s Old City, Israel installed metal detectors at the entrance of the site to protect both visitors and officers.  Perhaps predictably, those seemingly common-sense measures triggered a call for a “day of rage” from Palestinian leaders, and an ensuing round of violent protests in Palestinian cities.

Today, a reader letter in The Wall Street Journal provides some helpful historical perspective in the ongoing controversy:

It is ironic that the Muslim population complains that the metal detectors interfere with their worship.  Until the Six Day War in 1967, when the Temple Mount was in Muslim control, Jews weren’t allowed to come within miles of the Western Wall, much less pray there.  To this day, Jews aren’t allowed to pray at their holiest site – the summit of the Temple Mount – by the Islamic Waqf.”

July 28th, 2017 at 12:48 pm
Image of the Day: Almost All European Nations Would Be Poor U.S. States
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

From the Mises Institute, a helpful corrective to the strangely persistent myth that life is better in Europe than the United States.  As this graph demonstrates, if European nations were U.S. states, almost all of them would be poor ones.  That also includes Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Most European Nations Would Be Poor U.S. States

Most European Nations Would Be Poor U.S. States

Only three nations – Switzerland (which notably has no minimum wage), Luxembourg and Norway – exceed the U.S. median income, and keep in mind that doesn’t account for the far lower cost of living (i.e., purchasing power) in the U.S.  Something to keep handy the next time Bernie Sanders speaks of overseas utopias, or friends on social media instruct us all on some better way of living, as Merle Haggard would say.

July 23rd, 2017 at 8:08 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Lineup
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CDT to 6:00 p.m. CDT (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as she hosts her radio show, “Your Turn: Meeting Nonsense with Commonsense.” Today’s guest lineup includes:

4:00 CDT/5:00 pm EDT:  Jean Morrow, Research Assistant for Domestic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation – Overview of Health Care Bills and Their Prognosis;

4:15 CDT/5:15 pm EDT:  Curtis Kalin, Communications Director and Spokesman for Citizens Against Government Waste – 2017 Congressional Pig Book;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs – Arbitration;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  Phil Kerpen, President of American Commitment – Congress as a Small Business;

5:15 CDT/6:15 pm EDT:  Anthony Ruggiero, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies – North Korea;

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Steve Milloy, Junk Science Commentator and Author – Cleaning House at the EPA; and

5:45 CDT/6:45 pm EDT:  Roslyn Layton, Visiting Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute – How Title II Harms Consumers and Innovators.

Listen live on the Internet here. Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330.

July 21st, 2017 at 1:32 pm
Poll: Americans Still Prefer Smaller Government
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Amid the dire mainstream media cacophony, there’s more good news to report.  Not that any of those outlets will so much as mention this, but a new nationwide Rasmussen survey finds that Americans continue to support smaller government over big government, and the disparity has only increased in recent months:

Voters still place preference on a smaller, more hands-off government than on a larger, more hands-on one.  A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 57% of likely U.S. voters would prefer a smaller government with fewer services and lower taxes over a larger, more active government with more services and higher taxes.  That’s up from 52% in March.”

Who knows?  Perhaps even the mainstream media themselves are responsible, in a boomerang effect.  Regardless, it’s welcome and encouraging news on a summer Friday.