We take no position in the ongoing Taylor Swift versus Kanye West divide.  But as perhaps surprisingly…
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Taylor Swift: Intellectual Property and Anti-Counterfeiting Champion

We take no position in the ongoing Taylor Swift versus Kanye West divide.  But as perhaps surprisingly featured in a Wall Street Journal opinion this week, we do applaud her strong stance in defense of intellectual property (IP) and against the scourge of counterfeiting:

Pop star Taylor Swift has been feuding in recent days with rapper Kanye West and his wife, Kim Kardashian.  The details of the drama are lurid and complicated, but young aficionados of Snapchat and Instagram have been following it all intently.  If only the same were true for other Taylor Swift feuds that have received less attention.  Namely, those the 26-year-old songstress has fought in defense of a principle often scorned by fellow celebrities and the social-media generation generally:  the value of intellectual…[more]

July 22, 2016 • 01:09 pm

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Sarbanes-Oxley: An Unconstitutional Monument to Governmental Incompetence Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, December 10 2009
Seven years following its enactment, Sarb-Ox now stands as a monument to regulatory futility, costly government incompetence and disregard of the Constitution’s checks and balances.

Remember when Sarbanes-Oxley was supposed to prevent future market failures? 

It was July 30, 2002 – not even a decade ago. 

The world was witnessing a broad and unprecedented economic downturn.  Financial panic had descended in the wake of bookkeeping scandals and excessive corporate risk.  Such companies as Enron, WorldCom, Adelphia and Tyco became household names.  Investors large and small saw untold billions in paper wealth simply disappear.  Public confidence and esteem toward Wall Street plummeted to new lows, and we collectively wondered how we all could have been so short-sighted and overexuberant. 

Sound familiar? 

In response, righteous politicians, regulators and media pundits confidently stepped forward to save the day. 

They implored “never again!”  They scapegoated “market failure” and “deregulation” (even though the transgressions were already illegal).  They demanded burdensome new legislation that would prevent future market collapses.  They assured us that only government is large enough and powerful enough fix the problem and prevent it from recurring. 

The wise and omnipotent shamans in the Senate and House of Representatives directed us toward a mystical path out of our state of fear, and into a brave new world of everlasting comfort, prosperity and security. 

It’s name?  The Senate called it the “Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act,” and the House called it the “Corporate and Auditing Accountability and Responsibility Act.”  Collectively, it becomes popularly known as “Sarbanes-Oxley,” “Sarb-Ox” or simply “SOX.” 

The final Sarb-Ox bill contained no fewer than eleven broad title sections, and created a new federal bureaucracy called the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) to mandate and oversee accounting audits of public companies.  It also imposed an endless array of taxes and new regulations, disclosure requirements, outside audit guidelines, corporate governance dictates, criminal penalties, internal controls and conflict-of-interest rules. 

Sarb-Ox was supposed to stand as a shining monument of bipartisan federal benevolence, and usher in a new era of financial stability and trust. 

Well, that didn’t last very long. 

Merely six years later, what wasn’t supposed to happen again…  happened again. 

And like clockwork, the same politicians, pundits and power-seeking regulators blamed “deregulation” even though the financial industry that triggered the downturn was one of the most regulated – not deregulated – sectors of our economy. 

While the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) predicted in 2003 that Sarb-Ox would cost the average company only $91,000 per year, a 2008 SEC analysis concluded that compliance costs total $2.3 million for the average company. 

Sarb-Ox has also stifled initial public offerings in America, as an SEC survey reveals that 70% of small businesses and 44% of all public companies said that it has inclined them toward going private rather than public.  The survey also reveals that over 51% of responding companies state that Sarb-Ox has inclined them toward de-listing in the United States.  And more fundamentally, 74% of those responding to the survey confirmed that it has had “little or no impact” upon market confidence. 

In addition to failing at its intended purpose, however, Sarb-Ox also suffers from the drawback of being unconstitutional. 

This is because the proponents of Sarb-Ox, in their legislative haste, ignored Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, which grants exclusive power to the President to appoint officers of the United States.  In defiance of that provision, Sarb-Ox collectively empowers the SEC to appoint PCAOB members, who in turn possess the power to regulate corporate auditors and companies. 

While this may sound trivial or technical, the appointment power was actually a critical concept in the minds of our Founding Fathers when they drafted the Constitution.  As noted by Sam Kazman, who serves as General Counsel at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (one of the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case against Sarb-Ox), the framers had witnessed the oppressive power of England’s royal bureaucracies, and referred in the Declaration of Independence to the “multitude of new offices” and “swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”  Accordingly, the Founding Fathers insisted upon greater bureaucratic accountability in establishing our system of checks and balances. 

Thus, Sarb-Ox is not only counterproductive, but unconstitutional. 

Seven years following its enactment, Sarb-Ox now stands as a monument to regulatory futility, costly government incompetence and disregard of the Constitution’s checks and balances.  It thus provides a timely lesson as the White House and Congress shower us with endless new iterations of Sarbanes-Oxley. 

Let us therefore learn from recent history, rather than allow Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank to repeat it. 

Question of the Week   
In which one of the following years was Secret Service protection afforded to major candidates for President and Vice President of the United States?
More Questions
Quote of the Day   
 
"Disruptive. That's a good word to describe Donald Trump's presidential candidacy, and to describe the sometimes ramshackle Republican National Convention his campaign more or less superintended in Cleveland this past week. ...Over history America has mostly been built by disruption. ... Maybe some disruption from a candidate who says he has 'no tolerance for government incompetence' is in order."…[more]
 
 
—Michael Barone, Principal Co-Author, The Almanac of American Politics and Washington Examiner Senior Political Analyst
— Michael Barone, Principal Co-Author, The Almanac of American Politics and Washington Examiner Senior Political Analyst
 
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Following the Republican National Convention, how do you now rate Donald Trump’s chances of winning the presidency?