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Posts Tagged ‘free market’
August 16th, 2012 at 5:39 pm
Pew Research: Independents and Republicans Agree Government Regulation Does More Harm Than Good
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In the words of the Pew Research Center, “No issue relating to business is more politically divisive than the impact of government regulation.”

According to a new Pew survey, 76% of Republicans believe that government regulation of business tends to do more harm than good, but only 41% of Democrats agree.  That’s an enormous 35% difference, but the poll reveals something even more interesting.  Namely, 58% of independents side with Republicans on that question, not Democrats.  Another interesting point from the survey, according to Pew:

Fully 72% of Americans agree that ‘the strength of this country today is based on the success of American business.’ This opinion has endured, largely unchanged, for the past quarter century.”

That’s bad news for Barack “You Didn’t Build That!” Obama and his class warfare campaign theme.

April 23rd, 2012 at 3:13 pm
Obama’s Energy Policies, or, How America Can Fail
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Free Market America, a new group operating in partnership with Americans for Limited Government, has a powerful new video out that makes an important point: if one was setting out to intentionally inflict harm on the American economy via energy policy, the resulting strategy would look a lot like what the Obama Administration is proposing.

The point here is not that Obama’s agenda is a covert plot to damage the nation — it’s not — but rather that its effects will be just as calamitous as if it was. Take a look for yourself:

 

 

January 18th, 2012 at 5:00 pm
Romney Can’t Make the Moral Case for Capitalism

Will someone please tell the Wall Street Journal editorial page that Mitt Romney is not Rick Santorum?

Over the past week there’s been a raft of handwringing at the conservative publication over Romney’s inability to make “the moral case” for all kinds of economic activity, such as private equity and capitalism’s risk and reward system.  Yet since Romney hasn’t risen to the challenge of defending the free market, surrogates have stepped forward in droves.  Two recent examples include a guest column that ran yesterday headlined “Newt’s Bain Opportunism is Mitt’s Opportunity,” calling on Romney to “make a moral case for free market capitalism.”  One of today’s editorials, “Mitt Romney’s 15%,” thinks the candidate’s disclosure of his tax rate gives him “the opportunity to make the moral and practical case for lower rates and fewer loopholes.”

The Journal and other economics-only conservatives are demanding too much from Romney.  He’s not a moralist.  As this revealing bio-piece makes clear, those who know him consider Romney a relativist.  Members of his church came to a similar conclusion when he challenged Ted Kennedy in 1994.  Remember, the defining characteristic of a relativist is that he doesn’t believe in absolutes.  For example, the idea that government should never force its citizens to purchase a product against their will…

Simply put, the reason Romney won’t make the moral case for capitalism is because he can’t make it.  It’s just not the way he approaches decisions in business or politics.  Like other New England Republicans, he sounds like a fiscal conservative, but he’s always willing to increase spending, and pass more regulations.  (See RomneyCare, the Salt Lake City Olympic Games bailout, etc.)  His history shows that he opts for what works instead of what’s right.

If the Wall Street Journal and its guest columnists are chagrined that Romney is unable or unwilling to defend beliefs they hold dear, then maybe it’s time they lower the temperature on the rest of the conservative movement who have been expressing the same disappointment with Romney since 2008.

October 26th, 2011 at 3:44 pm
More on Obama’s War on Ambition

Quin’s point is well taken.  Obama-era regulations and rhetoric are scaring away the kind of investment growth the country needs to get Americans back to work.  On the regulatory side, increased capital holding requirements stack dollar bills in bank vaults while small business loans dry up.  Cost-of-employment drivers like Obamacare and the EPA’s threatened regulation of carbon make any rational employer look for ways to enhance productivity and efficiency instead of staffing up.  Simply put, under President Obama it’s cheaper to do more with less to keep what you have rather than risk the money and regulatory gauntlet trying to increase market share.

On the rhetoric side, my recent column on the five most recent dumb statements by the president contains just a sample of his daily assaults on the ambition and energy of America’s job creators.  What the president fails to see is that a sustainable government depends on a vastly more prosperous private economy.  Until he learns the importance of that relationship, we’re likely doomed to being (and producing) much less than we otherwise would.

Btw, Quin: I’m sure you’ve got business contacts in the Mobile-D.C. corridor.  Are any of them looking at the current and future regulatory scene and thinking, “Gee, what a great time to expand”?

October 25th, 2011 at 10:31 am
Bobby Jindal for HHS Secretary?

Last week, Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal coasted to an easy reelection thanks in large part to a strong record of accomplishment in reforming his state’s previously out-of-control healthcare system.  Here’s what a writer in Forbes has to say about Jindal’s version of reform:

While Jindal’s record on reducing health-care spending is impressive, even more impressive is how he stayed focused on improving the quality of Louisiana health care, putting paid to the Democratic conceit that the only way to improve health-care quality is with more government spending, and that anyone concerned about budget deficits is destined to harm those most in need.

If a Republican wins the White House in 2012, he or she will need an energetic expert running the Department of Health and Human Services in order to repeal and replace Obamacare with a free market alternative.  If records matter, Bobby Jindal should be every fiscal conservative’s choice for what may be the most consequential cabinet position over the next four years.

October 10th, 2011 at 5:45 pm
The “Upstream” Approach to Regulatory Reform

According to an article in the journal Regulation, there are two ways to regulate the flow of administrative agency rules.  The “downstream” approach tries to “rein in onerous regulations after they have been promulgated.”  The “upstream” method allows Congress “to restrict administrative agencies before giving them rulemaking authority during the legislative process.”  The idea is to get fewer and less costly regulations with five key reforms:

1)      Require agencies to review existing regulations for inefficiency at a set time after implementation (which sounds like something similar to Texas’ Sunset process)

2)      Require agencies to eliminate duplicative rules if a new regulation would supersede an older one

3)      Limit the total number of regulations during implementation of any new law (an attempt to make rule writers more cautious when spending their regulatory chips)

4)      Establish a regulatory “pay-as-you-go” that rescinds one old rule for every new rule implemented (the authors also argue for a proportionality requirement that ensures against an economy-killing rule replacing a forgotten restriction no longer necessary)

5)      Prohibit new regulations where costs exceed benefits

The key perk of the last proposal is requiring agencies to engage in a formal cost-benefit analysis during the implementation phase.  That helps put the agency on record – and the voting public on notice – of the true impact about to hit before it’s too late.

Check out the short (4 page), tightly-argued article here.

H/T: Cato Institute

August 29th, 2011 at 1:28 pm
Irony: Gallup Poll Shows Tech Industry Rated Highest, Federal Gov’t That Keeps Regulating It Rated Lowest
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

According to a new poll from Gallup, Americans rate the “Computer Industry” most positively among 25 business and government entities, with the “Internet Industry” close behind.  That’s no surprise – few innovations in human history have transformed our lives as rapidly and profoundly as the tech sector.

But here’s an irony.  The federal government, which constantly interferes with tech sector innovation via such bureaucratic assaults as so-called “Net Neutrality” and interference with the private proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile, is rated least favorably by Americans.  Only 17% of Americans rate the federal government positively, which 63% rate it negatively.  In contrast, the computer industry is rated positively by a 72% to 10% margin, and the Internet industry is rated positively by a 56% to 16% ratio.

Perhaps we’d all be better off if the tech sector began monitoring the federal government, rather than the converse.  It certainly appears that most Americans would agree.

August 19th, 2011 at 7:31 pm
Economics Isn’t That Hard, Stupid

In case you missed it, Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal explains “Why Americans Hate Economics” with two wonderfully clear paragraphs.

The first explains where economics as a discipline went wrong:

How did modern economics fly off the rails? The answer is that the “invisible hand” of the free enterprise system, first explained in 1776 by Adam Smith, got tossed aside for the new “macroeconomics,” a witchcraft that began to flourish in the 1930s during the rise of Keynes. Macroeconomics simply took basic laws of economics we know to be true for the firm or family—i.e., that demand curves are downward sloping; that when you tax something, you get less of it; that debts have to be repaid—and turned them on their head as national policy.

The second shows where Keynesians err:

The grand pursuit of economics is to overcome scarcity and increase the production of goods and services. Keynesians believe that the economic problem is abundance: too much production and goods on the shelf and too few consumers. Consumers lined up for blocks to buy things in empty stores in communist Russia, but that never sparked production. In macroeconomics today, there is a fatal disregard for the heroes of the economy: the entrepreneur, the risk-taker, the one who innovates and creates the things we want to buy. “All economic problems are about removing impediments to supply, not demand,” Arthur Laffer reminds us.

Knowledge becomes inaccessible only when an influential group decides that reality doesn’t fit their ideal.  The Keynesians have had their day.  It’s time for the proponents of sound money and economic growth to have their turn.

June 3rd, 2011 at 9:22 am
Obamanomics: Unemployment Rises to 9.1%
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

This morning, the Labor Department announced that the U.S. unemployment rate climbed again to 9.1% this month, up from 9.0% in April.  Just as alarmingly, the net number of jobs created was only 54,000, down from 232,000 in April.  In addition to deteriorating from the previous month, both numbers fell well below the expectations of economists, who had anticipated a decline in the unemployment rate to 8.9%, and 160,000 net new jobs.  This also means that in the 27 months since Obama signed his unprecedented government spending “stimulus,” unemployment has only climbed from 8.2% to 9.1%, even though the Administration projected that he would have it down to 6.5% by now.  By way of comparison, in the same 27 months following the effective date of President Reagan’s tax cuts in January 1983, unemployment plummeted from 10.4% to 7.3%.  The facts speak volumes.

May 26th, 2011 at 10:57 am
Initial Unemployment Claims Rise Again
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

This morning, the Labor Department announced that first-time unemployment claims rose again, from 414,000 last week to 424,000 this week.

As demonstrated by this Labor Department graph, weekly unemployment claims average approximately 300,000 during periods of economic normalcy.  One year ago, the number stood at 463,000 when the Obama Administration proclaimed the arrival of the “Recovery Summer,” yet it never dipped below 400,000 for the remainder of 2010.  We finally dipped into the high 300,000 range in February of this year – still an elevated level – but the number climbed back to 478,000 last month.

This is the Obama “stimulus,” over two years and $1 trillion of government spending later.

May 17th, 2011 at 4:40 pm
CFIF to U.S. Senate: Reject New Taxes Targeting Domestic Energy Producers
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

As the Senate debates proposed tax rules that would unfairly and discriminatorily target domestic oil and gas producers, the Center for Individual Freedom on behalf of its 300,000 supporters and activists across the United States today formally urged all Senators to vote “NO” on S. 940.   Addressing that counterproductive proposed legislation, Grant Aldonas (former Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade) and Pamela Olson (former Assistant Treasury Secretary for Tax Policy) warned of its likely destructive consequences in a Washington Examiner opinion piece today.   Here is one particularly relevant excerpt from their commentary:

Rather than offering serious ideas about how to tackle entitlements, cut wasteful spending or reform the tax code, proponents of raising the oil companies’ taxes have seized on the notion that American energy producers benefit from billions of dollars in alleged tax subsidies.

[The] single most damaging thing the proposal does is mortgage our energy future to the state-owned energy giants that now dominate global energy markets. The U.S. economy runs on oil, but we produce only 40 percent of what we consume, meaning our economy and standard of living depend heavily on our access to foreign oil and gas resources.

Reid’s plan works just fine if you are comfortable having America’s energy future decided in Beijing, Moscow, or Tehran. Not so much if you think we should be deciding our own destiny.

Any proposal that would enhance the competitiveness of foreign government-owned oil giants at the U.S. companies’ expense and lead to greater volatility in oil markets and rising prices for U.S. consumers qualifies as a damaging unintended consequence.”  (Emphasis added.)

To read this excellent commentary in full, please click here.

CFIF also urges you to contact your Senators (contact information for your Senators available here) and urge them to vote “NO” on S. 940.

April 29th, 2011 at 4:25 pm
Gallup: 73%-22% Majority Blames Deficit on Too Much Spending, Not Insufficient Taxes
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Here’s more encouraging news:  Americans are “getting it” on the issue of federal deficits and debt.  According to a new Gallup survey, an overwhelming 73% to 22% majority blames excess spending for the deficit, not insufficient taxation.  Barack Obama and his liberal apologists seek to blame “tax cuts for the rich” and insufficient revenues as the problem.  But as illustrated by the Heritage Foundation’s newly-released 2011 Budget Chart Book, our budget would still be approximately balanced if spending merely returned to early 2000s levels.  Does any serious person contend that government was too small in the first half of the 2000s, that government didn’t spend enough, that the poor and hungry were somehow cast out on the cold streets, that bureaucrats went unpaid?  Of course not.  The problem is explosive spending growth.  Obama oversaw an 84% increase in domestic discretionary spending, including his failed “stimulus,” in just his first two years.

Fortunately, Americans see through his attempt to demand even more taxpayer dollars to feed the insatiable leviathan he hopes to enlarge.

April 15th, 2011 at 10:16 am
The Bush Administration Didn’t Create Your Record Deficits, Mr. Obama
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Observers like Charles Krauthammer are correct:  Barack Obama’s partisan budget attack this week was a “disgrace.”  Almost every sentence was tawdry, caustic or simply dishonest.

One suggestion early in Obama’s speech stood out because it is so easily refuted by simple numbers.  Namely, his latest attempt to scapegoat the Bush Administration and portray his own record deficits as somehow attributable to it:

We increased spending dramatically for two wars and an expensive prescription drug program -– but we didn’t pay for any of this new spending.  Instead, we made the problem worse with trillions of dollars in unpaid-for tax cuts -– tax cuts that went to every millionaire and billionaire in the country; tax cuts that will force us to borrow an average of $500 billion every year over the next decade.  To give you an idea of how much damage this caused to our nation’s checkbook, consider this:  In the last decade, if we had simply found a way to pay for the tax cuts and the prescription drug benefit, our deficit would currently be at low historical levels in the coming years.”

But take a look at the actual historical deficit data, with particular attention to 2007, which was the last year under a Republican Congress and White House.  That year’s deficit came in at $161 billion, which is one-tenth the size of Obama’s projected record $1.65 trillion 2011 deficit.  That 2007 deficit was also down from $378 billion in 2003, when the tax cuts, Iraq invasion and drug benefit occurred.  In his usual straw-man manner of argumentation, Obama mocked those who claim we can reduce our debt by eliminating “waste, fraud and abuse,” but what better way to characterize his latest un-presidential harangue?

April 11th, 2011 at 2:29 pm
Quote of the Day from WSJ’s L. Gordon Crovitz
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Quote of the day from The Wall Street Journal’s L. Gordon Crovitz, writing in his weekly “Information Age” column:

In high-tech, by the time the political and legal systems catch up to an issue, the issue is moot.”

Whether anti-trust, so-called “Net Neutrality,” public broadband endeavors, wireless data roaming mandates or anything else, you can always count on bureaucrats to be a day late and a dollar short.  Are you paying attention, FCC?

April 11th, 2011 at 12:00 pm
Free Market Solution to Housing Crisis

While the federal government continues to create moral hazards for people trying to stay in their soon-to-be-foreclosed homes, TwinRock LLC is giving those same people a reason to hope: letting former homeowners rent their foreclosed properties at reduced rates.

So far TwinRock has purchased 22 homes in Moreno Valley, Riverside, Corona, Rialto, San Bernardino, Highland, Murrieta, Wildomar and Temecula, and the company has plans to buy several hundred more, said Meyer.

Earlier this year, TwinRock put together a $6 million fund to enable the company to buy about 40 Inland homes and it is getting ready to raise another $15 million, Philips said. The firm’s investment model primarily calls for buying houses with cash at trustee auctions conducted each weekday at Inland courthouses, he said.

There’s another benefit to keeping people in their homes:

Letting former homeowners remain in the foreclosed homes as tenants also eliminates the potential that the homes will be vandalized by angry former owners facing eviction, Meyer said.

TwinRock’s solution isn’t for everyone.  Some homeowners are so indebted in other areas they need to declare bankruptcy and restart their financial history.  For many others, however, renting one’s home with the possibility of buying it back later is much more attractive than waiting for a temporary government bailout.

H/T: Riverside (CA) Press-Enterprise

April 7th, 2011 at 4:18 pm
The FCC’s Wireless Data Roaming Mandates Are Illegal, Unwise
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

One would think the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had learned its lesson by now.

In the past calendar year, the FCC’s extralegal power grabs have brought judicial rebuke from a unanimous Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, widespread public opposition and rare bipartisan Congressional condemnation.  But instead of internalizing those lessons, the FCC has once again endeavored beyond its legal authority by voting to impose data roaming mandates on private wireless carriers.  In a correspondence to the FCC, CFIF set forth the ways in which its latest rogue action is not only without legal foundation, but also unwise as a matter of public policy.

First, Section 332 of the Communications Act explicitly states that private mobile service providers “shall not be treated as a common carrier for any purpose under this Act.”  By  requiring wireless providers to forcibly enter agreements with other wireless carriers and allow non-customers to roam on their data networks, the FCC has violated that express provision. 

Second, a vibrant market for data roaming agreements already exists, meaning that this FCC action is unnecessary.  Carriers large and small already engage in very high rates of partnership, including Rural Cellular Association (RCA) members.  These agreements cover 3G and even 4G networks, contrary to extremists’ claims.  Indeed, numerous smaller carriers currently advertise nationwide broadband data coverage despite possessing relatively narrow license areas, meaning that they already have secured data roaming agreements.  Further, the prices negotiated in roaming agreements continue to decline. 

Third, the FCC’s bureaucratic intrusion into this realm will have the perverse effect of discouraging new investment and job creation in this cutting-edge sector.  After all, the FCC’s mandates will create incentives to piggyback on other networks rather than invest in new ones.  Carriers must be able to differentiate themselves and compete against counterpart carriers in the free market, which the FCC’s proposed mandates will undercut.  As data use continues to increase and smart phones impose new demands on network capacity, the inevitable result will be congestion, delay, fewer jobs and less investment.

Today’s FCC vote thus exceeds its legal authority and undermines new investment, while ignoring the fact that data roaming agreements are already prevalent.  It merely provides the latest evidence that the rogue FCC must be brought back to Earth, whether via Congress or the courts.

April 5th, 2011 at 3:48 pm
Texas Legislature Considers New Taxes On… Thin Air?
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Two bills before the Texas legislature, H.B. 259 and H.B. 3675, propose new and unwarranted taxes on satellite television providers.  This period of high unemployment and economic uncertainty is no time to be raising taxes in the first place.  But here’s the kicker:  those two bills would essentially tax thin air.

H.B. 259 and H.B. 3675 would impose taxes on something satellite television providers don’t even use – the physical public right of way.  Obviously, reasonable people could understand why entities that actually use the public right of way under city streets or along physical power lines must help maintain those rights of way.  Since satellite video doesn’t even traverse any physical right of way, however, H.B. 259 and H.B. 3675 constitute a tax on thin air.  Moreover, Texas already taxes video services, so imposing yet another entirely new tax upon physical rights of way that satellite providers don’t even use makes these two bills even more manifestly unfair.  Additionally, it is estimated that only 10% of right of way taxes actually go to maintenance, with 90% of collected revenues diverted to general city funds.  In other words, these two proposed bills are a transparent money grab.

We at CFIF have therefore sent a letter of to the House State Affairs Committee to assert our opposition on behalf of 17,000 activists and supporters in the state of Texas.  But you can also help by contacting them as well via this link

Make it clear to these legislators that now is not the time to raise taxes, especially when what’s being taxed is nothing more than thin air.

April 5th, 2011 at 1:19 pm
FCC Commissioner Clyburn Thinks Government Should Enter the Communications Business, Too
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In this era of bureaucratic overreach and unsustainable spending and deficits, should government also enter the business of competing against private communications service providers?  Doesn’t it already have its hands full?

We at CFIF think so.  In fact, we testified last month before the North Carolina legislature on behalf of thousands of supporters and activists across that great state in support of H.B. 129, which would restrain government bureaucrats from unfairly competing against private providers of communications services.   And with good reason.  From Taiwan to Australia, from Chicago to Houston, and inside North Carolina itself, the history of public broadband is without exception one of failure.  Every single public broadband project of which we’re aware has failed to so much as break even.  Ultimately, taxpayer bailouts become necessary as government endeavors lose money and require constant upgrades to keep pace with evolving technology.  Moreover, government broadband boondoggles undermine the billions of dollars invested in private network improvement and expansion, and discourage future private investment.  After all, why risk one’s capital to compete against governments that can manipulate the rules and go to taxpayers for bailout?  Inevitably, poorer service and layoffs in the vibrant tech sector result.  Rural communities particularly suffer.

But none of that logic seems to matter to Democratic FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn.   In a statement Monday, Clyburn attacked the North Carolina’s sensible legislation and defended the concept of government entering yet another portion of the private sector.   Perhaps that’s not surprising, considering Clyburn’s vote last December to impose so-called “Net Neutrality” in the face of two-to-one public opposition, a unanimous Court of Appeals decision that the FCC didn’t possess such authority and condemnation from bipartisan groups in Congress.

Predictable or not, however, it is critical that Americans at the federal, state and local level vocally oppose the sort of government tech sector overreach that she advocates.

March 18th, 2011 at 10:32 am
Gallup Survey: Unions Reduce Workplace Wellbeing
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Apparently, whatever jobs labor unions don’t drive overseas or eliminate entirely are made worse by them.

According to a just-released Gallup survey, “U.S. Union Workers Score Lower on Work Enforcement Index.”  On a variety of measures, from the sense of employee/supervisor partnership to overall trust, unionized workplaces simply maintain substantially lower levels of workplace wellbeing.  Ultimately, as the Gallup report states, unionized workplaces impact the factors that “in turn have well-documented associations to various desirable business outcomes, including customer engagement, turnover, absenteeism, and productivity.”

As critical standoffs between taxpayers and intransigent labor bosses in Wisconsin and across the nation continue, this new Gallup survey sheds some important information on the matter.

March 16th, 2011 at 3:49 pm
New Congress Deals Big-Government “Net Neutrality” Another Blow
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Yesterday, the new House of Representatives took another step to make good on its campaign promises last fall to the American people.

The House Energy & Commerce Committee, by a 30 to 23 vote, approved a resolution prohibiting Obama’s rogue Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from imposing so-called “Net Neutrality” on the nation’s Internet sector. This follows last week’s 15-8 vote by the Communications and Technology Subcommittee on the same issue. The FCC doesn’t possess the legal authority to regulate the Internet via “Net Neutrality” in the first instance, as a unanimous court of appeals ruled last year.  Further, Americans oppose this sort of Internet regulation by a solid two-to-one margin, and a rare bipartisan majority of 300 from Congress has formally instructed the FCC against pursuing this lawless course.  Ignoring all of that, the FCC rammed through “Net Neutrality” by a partisan 3-2 vote in December.

Big-government activists claim that “Net Neutrality” is somehow necessary to prevent Internet service providers, who invest the tens of billions of dollars necessary to create the networks on which the Internet passes, from blocking various websites or maliciously discriminating in Internet traffic.  But they cannot explain why that hypothetical epidemic of blockage has never occurred despite two decades of explosive Internet growth in our lives.  And with good reason – any service provider that did so would quickly find itself out of business due to irate customers.  But never mind that.  What are facts, after all, against the desire to add yet another sector of the American economy to the Obama Administration’s regulation?

Fortunately, Americans know better.  And just as fortunately, Congress and the courts are doing something about it.