November 12th, 2020 at 11:49 am
Images of the Day: Unemployment Claims Plummeted Faster After $600 Checks Expired
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As the nation debates continuing coronavirus stimulus, AEI offers an eye-opening analysis:  Unemployment claims plummeted and the employment picture improved much faster after those $600 checks expired, reestablishing that while we always want to help those who cannot help themselves, government payouts can sometimes reduce incentives and ability to return to the workforce.  And this doesn’t even reflect remarkably positive employment reports released by the government since the end dates:

 

Unemployment Claimes Dropped

Continuing Unemployment Claims Dropped

 

 

 

 

Initial Unemployment Claimes Dropped

Initial Unemployment Claims Dropped


November 11th, 2020 at 9:30 am
Thank You Veterans
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October 30th, 2020 at 5:06 pm
CFIF Applauds SMARTER Antitrust Reform Bill
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As we at CFIF regularly highlight, among the best ways to boost the American economy is via federal deregulation, which brought us the strongest economy in world history under President Trump.

For that reason CFIF enthusiastically applauds a bill sponsored by Senators Mike Lee (R – Utah), Thom Tillis (R– NOrth Carolina) and Charles Grassley (R – Iowa) entitled the Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules (SMARTER) Act.  Currently, differing antitrust review standards applied by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) create confusion throughout our business and financial sectors, unnecessarily restraining U.S. economic prosperity.  The SMARTER Act changes that by harmonizing that process:

‘The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice unnecessarily apply different procedures and standards for reviewing proposed mergers,’ said Senator Tillis.  ‘This commonsense legislation will streamline the enforcement of our federal antitrust laws by creating a system of consistency that will benefit consumers and businesses.’

The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission share concurrent jurisdiction to review proposed mergers for compliance with the antitrust laws but it is not always clear in advance which agency will review a particular merger.  Although the two antitrust agencies apply the same substantive law to the mergers they review, their procedures differ in important ways.

The SMARTER Act fixes this problem by requiring the Commission to satisfy the same standards that DOJ must meet in order to obtain a preliminary injunction to block a merger and requiring the Commission to litigate the merits of contested merger cases in federal court under the Clayton Act — just as DOJ does — rather than before its own administrative tribunals.

Separately, certain mergers also require approval of the Federal Communications Commission.  However, the Federal Communications Commission’s merger review procedures create an open-ended process that fuels uncertainty and is potentially insulated from judicial review.  This invites regulatory mischief from both sides of the aisle that only leads to an imbalance in the implementation of regulatory policy.  The current process results in an inconsistent merger review process that not only harms the businesses seeking to complete a transaction in a timely manner, but it also hurts workers and consumers alike.  The SMARTER Act fixes this problem by requiring the Commission to issue a decision within 180 days of receiving a completed merger application.  The merger review process should not invite Congress or a regulatory agency to put a thumb on the scale of a particular transaction, but instead it should enable a fair and timely system that affords due process.”

As our economy continues to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, legislation of this sort is precisely what we need to reover and surpass the old mark.  CFIF applauds Senators Lee, Tillis and Grassley for their leadership.

 


October 29th, 2020 at 10:37 am
CFIF Letter to White House: Keep Targeting Rogue Venezuelan Regime, But Protect U.S. Enterprises Operating There
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Less than twenty years ago, Venezuela was Latin America’s wealthiest nation.  In the terrifyingly brief time since then, however, the rogue socialist regimes of Hugo Chavez and now his successor Nicolas Maduro have reduced it to a dystopian rubble more akin to starving Cuba.  For that, the United States justifiably isolates and targets the Maduro regime for its ongoing corruption, theft and human rights abuses.

Amid that effort, however, we must also protect vulnerable American companies that have conducted business in Venezuela since long before the Chavez and Maduro regimes.  By granting those American businesses specific waivers to continue operations, we protect them from suffering asset seizure at the hands of Maduro and his cronies.  The alternative of denying that latitude would suddenly force U.S. enterprises to surrender their assets, thereby strengthening the Maduro regime by allowing it  to commandeer those valuable assets for the benefit of Venezuelan state-owned enterprises or even handing them over to Chinese or Russian competitors.

In a new letter to the Trump Administration, we at CFIF highlight these realities and urge it to continue renewing U.S. business licenses to operate in order to protect their assets against Maduro expropriation:

American companies actually serve a positive capacity when allowed to continue operations in Venezuela.  Numerous U.S. enterprises have operated in Venezuela for decades, preceding both the Maduro and Hugo Chavez regimes that have wreaked such havoc that once made Venezuela Latin America’s wealthiest nation.  Not only do they visibly represent American values and the possibility of prosperity for the people of Venezuela, but they also provide well-paying jobs and labor protections that would evaporate if state-owned enterprises took over operations.  Those American companies also support communities where the Maduro regime has failed to act, by providing healthcare and nutrition for needy Venezuelans, who continue to rely upon foreign support for humanitarian needs due to Maduro government failures.

It’s therefore critical that your administration send a clear signal to the Maduro regime that it cannot confiscate U.S. business assets, and that we will not allow it to enrich itself via American enterprises.  The way to send that signal, and to protect U.S. businesses, is to grant those enterprises licenses to continue operations and protect their assets.”

The Trump Administration has shown leadership throughout its tenure in isolating the Maduro regime, and our letter urges it to protect American interests by renewing licenses for U.S companies to continue operations in Venezuela.  That will allow those companies to protect their invaluable assets and investments, while signaling that the United States remains committed to the democratic and free market values that we represent.

 

 

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October 28th, 2020 at 6:21 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: Pelosi Negotiates
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez…


October 13th, 2020 at 3:18 pm
Happy 40th to the Staggers Rail Act, Which Deregulated and Saved the U.S. Rail Industry
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This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which deregulated American freight rail and saved it from looming oblivion.

At the time of passage, the U.S. economy muddled along amid ongoing malaise, and our rail industry teetered due to decades of overly bureaucratic sclerosis.  Many other domestic U.S. industries had disappeared, and our railroads faced the same fate.  But by passing the Staggers Rail Act, Congress restored a deregulatory approach that in the 1980s allowed other U.S. industries to thrive.  No longer would government determine what services railroads could offer, their rates or their routes, instead restoring greater authority to the railroads themselves based upon cost-efficiency.

Today, U.S. rail flourishes even amid the coronavirus pandemic, accounting for 42% of total U.S. freight, while the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) anticipates another 30% growth in rail volume over the next two decades.  In terms of cost-efficiency, today’s railroads transport nearly twice the freight for the same price of 40 years ago when the Staggers Act passed.  Rail now transports fully one-third of all U.S. exports, its accident rate has fallen 10% in the past ten years alone and it moves one ton of goods over 470 miles on a single gallon of fuel – far surpassing the fuel efficiency of ground trucks.  Rail also supports approximately 1.5 million jobs, industry employees earn 60% more than average U.S. workers and railroads have poured over $700 billion into domestic infrastructure improvements since 1980.

And importantly, in contrast to industries like trucking, shipping or airline freight, rail travels almost entirely upon infrastructure that it built and maintains with its own dollars.   Rail also hasn’t needed federal bailouts, as opposed to other industries.

Americans should all recognize rail’s success story, and thank the Staggers Rail Act and the deregulation that it restored for that success.  Happy 40th!


October 13th, 2020 at 11:16 am
Sen. Feinstein: ‘The Constitution Lives Loudly Within This One’
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez…

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.


October 2nd, 2020 at 11:40 am
A Note from CFIF on President Trump’s Positive Coronavirus Test
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Amid an excessively acrimonious partisan landscape, we simply wish to extend the CFIF family’s best wishes of luck and health to President Trump following his positive test for coronavirus, as we wish to anyone and everyone who has tested positive, as well as those loved ones affected by it.  In similar spirit, we express gratitude that Joe Biden and his wife have reportedly tested negative.


September 25th, 2020 at 10:05 am
Image(s) of the Day: The Obama/Biden Jobs “Recovery” Versus Trump’s
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From our friends at AEI, a wonderful capture of the difference between the Obama/Biden jobs “recovery,” which was the worst in recorded U.S. history (as the graph shows, they promised that unemployment wouldn’t surpass 8% under their wasteful spending “stimulus,” but instead it exceeded 8% for a record uninterrupted stretch), versus the sharp recovery under President Trump:

The Obama/Biden Jobs

The Obama/Biden Jobs “Recovery”

 

 

 

The Trump Actual Jobs Recovery

The Trump Actual Jobs Recovery


September 18th, 2020 at 11:46 am
Image of the Day: Record One-Year Income Rise in 2019
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From the U.S. Census Bureau, median household income rose by 6.8% in 2019 – a record one-year increase – to a record high of $68,700.  Notably, under the supposed racist President Donald Trump, those 2019 income gains were largest for minority groups.  And since 2016, median income has risen 9.7%, which is fantastic news for Americans, even if it might be bad news for leftists in their disinformation campaign:

 

Record Income Rise in 2019

Record Income Rise in 2019

 


September 11th, 2020 at 12:08 pm
Stat of the Day: Americans Lead Developed World in Economic Optimism
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Despite the leftist onslaught of doom and despair, it’s encouraging to see that even left-leaning Pew Research data shows Americans leading the developed world in terms of economic optimism, with the highest percentage of people saying that they expect improvement over the next year.  In fact, we’re the only nation with a majority reporting optimism:

 

 

U.S. Leads World in Economic Optimism

U.S. Leads World in Economic Optimism

 


August 28th, 2020 at 9:58 am
Image of the Day: Private R&D Dwarfs Public Funding
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As we’ve continued to highlight, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and others dangerously seek to weaken U.S. patent protections, which for centuries have led the world and account for the fact that the U.S. pharmaceutical sector introduces more new drugs than the rest of the world combined.  Their logic is that federal research and development funding justifies confiscation, not realizing that, as former patent attorney Abraham Lincoln once noted, the U.S. patent system added “the fuel of interest to the fire of genius.”  From our friends at AEI, a new graphic highlights again how private R&D actually dwarfs federal funding, which understandably peaked in the 1960s during the Cold War and Space Race.  It’s simply no justification for weakening America’s ongoing legacy of strong patent protections:

Private R&D Leads the Way

Private R&D Leads the Way

 


August 21st, 2020 at 8:17 pm
Image of the Day: Deregulated Railroad Sector Surges
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Amid the coronavirus pandemic, railroads have maintained supply chains while not requiring bailouts despite widespread uncertainty threatening other industries.  That directly reflects the railroad industry’s longstanding position of strength, due largely to deregulation via the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which we cannot allow to be reversed:

 

Deregulated Railroad Sector Surges

Deregulated Rail Sector Surges

 


August 18th, 2020 at 1:09 pm
Image of the Day: Gov. Cuomo’s Conspicuous Malpractice
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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made for a curious choice by Democrats to appear in a feature role on the first evening of their “convention”:

 

NY Gov. Cuomo's Incompetence

NY Gov. Cuomo’s Incompetence

 


July 31st, 2020 at 2:19 pm
Image of the Day: Defund Police, While Crime Spikes Upward?
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As Dennis Prager neatly illustrates, is now really the time for Joe Biden and other leftists to be advocating “Defund the Police?”

 

Not the Time to Defund Police

Not the Time to Defund Police

 

 


July 24th, 2020 at 4:10 pm
CFIF Opposes White House Executive Order Importing Foreign Nations’ Socialized Medicine and Drug Price Controls
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Regrettably, the White House today announced an executive order that effectively imports drug price controls from foreign nations with socialized healthcare systems.  We at CFIF strongly oppose the order and encourage immediate reconsideration.  Below is CFIF President Jeffrey Mazzella’s statement:

“Price controls simply do not work, regardless of the product targeted or the location they’re attempted, and real-world experience establishes that pharmaceutical price controls are no different.  The new executive order would impose what’s known as an International Pricing Index (IPI) for U.S. drugs administered by the federal government, meaning that foreign governments’ drug price controls would suddenly control our own reimbursement rates.  That would upend our current system, which has actually already reduced the cost of the 50 most popular Medicare Part B drugs sold by approximately 1%.  Our current system already includes the discounts negotiated between hospitals, healthcare plans and payers.  In contrast, foreign governments whose price control schemes we would import don’t negotiate, but instead dictate prices while threatening to violate patent rights and employ a ‘take it or leave it’ approach.

“As a direct consequence of foreign nations’ price control approaches that disrespect patent rights, those nations receive far fewer new lifesaving and life-improving drugs than American consumers.  For example, 96% of all new cancer drugs over the past decade were made available to U.S. consumers.  In contrast, only 56% of those same drugs became available in Canada, only 50% became available in Japan and only 11% in Greece, as just three examples.  Simply put, consumers in nations whose governments impose drug price controls don’t enjoy access to nearly as many new drugs as Americans, or nearly as soon.  As The Wall Street Journal found, that’s why America outpaces European nations in terms of cancer survival rates, among other advantages.

“Even the Trump Administration itself has highlighted the destructive effect of importing foreign price controls.  In 2018, its Council of Economic Advisers affirmed that, “If the United States had adopted the centralized drug pricing policy in other developed nations twenty years ago, then the world may not have highly valuable treatments for diseases that required significant investment.”

“Currently, the United States accounts for nearly two-thirds of all new drugs introduced worldwide, and our more market-oriented system and protection of patent rights explains why.  Very few potential new drugs ever reach the market, due to astronomical research and development costs, lengthy government safety tests, laboratory effectiveness trials, possible product liability lawsuits, patent protection limitations and other bureaucratic hassles.  Imposing artificial price controls would add to those headwinds by making it less possible to recover the massive costs of developing new medicines and R&D, leading to fewer new drugs for U.S. consumers.

“Instead of importing foreign nations’ price control schemes and their consequences, America should be exporting our superior system to their shores.

“Today’s executive order contravenes the Trump Administration’s broader agenda of deregulation, free-market approaches and strong intellectual property (IP) protections.  Hopefully, the White House quickly realizes the potentially catastrophic consequences of this order, lest American consumers suffer in the same way as consumers in the foreign nations that impose the price controls that it now seeks to import.

“In his State of the Union Address earlier this year, President Trump reassured Americans that, ‘To those watching at home tonight, I want you to know that we will never let socialism destroy American healthcare.’  Unfortunately, the White House’s executive order announced today regarding drug prices would do precisely that.

“We therefore urge President Trump to reconsider this potentially catastrophic order in the strongest possible terms.”

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July 14th, 2020 at 11:47 am
Image of the Day: The Shocking Cost of Chinese Intellectual Property (IP) Theft
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Shocking but necessary perspective on the cost of Chinese theft of U.S. intellectual property (IP) from National Review employing Congressional Research Service numbers:

 

The Shocking Cost of Chinese IP Theft

The Shocking Cost of Chinese IP Theft

 


July 10th, 2020 at 4:47 pm
Biden Drug Plan Would Slash Innovation and U.S. Consumer Access
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Joe Biden’s inexorable march toward the fanatical left continued this week, as he and Bernie Sanders (D – Vermont) introduced their “unity platform” in anticipation of this year’s Democratic convention.  We can thus add weaker U.S. patents and drug price controls imported from foreign nations to Biden’s existing dumpster fire of bad ideas.

Here’s the problem.  As we’ve often emphasized, and contrary to persistent myth, American consumers enjoy far greater access to new lifesaving drugs than people in other nations, including those in “other advanced economies” (Biden’s words) whose price controls Biden seeks to import:

Of all new cancer drugs developed worldwide between 2011 and 2018, 96% were available to American consumers.  Meanwhile, only 56% of those drugs became available in Canada, 50% in Japan, and just 11% in Greece, as just three examples.  Patients in nations imposing drug price controls simply don’t receive access to new pharmaceuticals as quickly as Americans, if they ever receive them at all.”

Even the World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledges that overseas consumers’ lower access to pharmaceutical innovations stems from their governments’ imposition of price control regimes:

Every time one country demands a lower price, it leads to lower price reference used by other countries.  Such price controls, combined with the threat of market lockout or intellectual property infringement, prevent drug companies from charging market rates for their products, while delaying the availability of new cures to patients living in countries implementing those policies.”

Just as dangerously, Biden also advocates weaker patent protections for U.S. pharmaceutical innovators.  The United States has throughout its history led the world in protecting patent and other intellectual property (IP) rights, and as a direct result we’re the most innovative, inventive, prosperous nation in recorded history.  The U.S. claims just 4% of the world’s population, and even our  world-leading economy accounts for less than 25% of global production, yet we account for an amazing two-thirds of all new pharmaceuticals introduced to the world.  Public policy should be strengthening patent rights, not weakening them.

Biden rationalizes his socialized medicine proposal by asserting that “taxpayers’ money underwrites the research and development of many prescription drugs in the first place.”  But as we’ve also noted, private pharmaceutical investment in R&D dwarfs public funding, so he can’t justify his heavy-handed bureaucratic idea on that basis.

Just three months into the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, American pharmaceutical innovators are already entering final testing phases, far ahead of original estimates of their anticipated arrival.  That should come as no surprise, because we’ve long led the world.  But it emphasizes even more that Biden’s toxic proposal to impose foreign drug price controls and to weaken U.S. patent protections is particularly dangerous at a moment like this.

 


July 6th, 2020 at 2:32 pm
“Blanket Licensing” – a Collectivist, Bureaucratic, One-Size-Fits-All Deprivation of Property Rights Proposal
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America’s legacy of unparalleled copyright protections and free market orientation has cultivated a music industry unrivaled in today’s world or throughout human history.

From the first days of the phonograph, through the jazz age, through the rock era, through disco, through country, through hip-hop and every other popular musical iteration since its advent, it’s not by accident that we lead the world in the same manner in which we lead in such industries as cinema and television programming.  We can thank our nation’s emphasis on strong copyright protections.

Unfortunately, that reality doesn’t deter some activists from periodically advocating a more collectivist, top-down governmental reordering of the music industry in a way that would deprive artists and creators of their property rights.  Some advocates simply will not relent in their unceasing and misguided campaign to undermine copyright protections that have provided the wellspring for U.S. musical preeminence.  They seek to replace strong copyright protections and the freedom of market participants to mutually negotiate, ultimately to consumers’ obvious benefit, and replace them with a government-determined rate and a one-size-fits-all bureaucratic approach that eliminates market participants’ autonomy.

As just the latest example, British activist Cory Doctorow of the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) now proposes a “blanket licensing” idea under which anyone wishing to offer music to pubic audiences would be required to open an account with a collecting society.  His heavily bureaucratic proposal would curtail the ability of copyright owners to negotiate royalties as they see fit with internet music platforms.

In an era of endless musical genres and methods to access them according to one’s preference, how does imposing such a collectivist, centralized, one-size-fits-all regime make sense?

The obvious answer is that it doesn’t.

Doctorow’s proposal betrays a fundamental flaw by misconceptualizing the nature of copyright itself by misstating “copyright’s real purpose:  spurring creativity and innovation.”

While Doctorow can be forgiven for his unfamiliarity with American constitutional principles, and while the utilitarian goal of creativity and innovation is indeed a primary feature of copyright and other intellectual property (IP) protections, that’s an inaccurate and incomplete statement of its “real purpose.”  Rather, copyright through common law and American constitutional history is valued as a natural property right of the creator, as we at CFIF articulated in our policy manual entitled ”The Constitutional and Historical Foundations of Copyright Protection”:

The Copyright Clause in the U.S. Constitution and the pre-existing rights it secures both arose from a long intellectual and historical tradition that reflected both the importance of economic incentives (the utilitarian argument) and the notion that individuals have an inherent and inviolable right to the fruits of their own labor.  As the Supreme Court has explained, ‘[t]he economic philosophy behind the clause empowering Congress to grant patents and copyrights’ is the conviction that:  ‘(1) encouragement of individual effort by personal gain is the best way to advance public welfare through the talents of authors and inventors in “Science and the useful Arts”’ and (2) ‘[s]acrificial days devoted to such creative activities deserve rewards commensurate with the services rendered.’  Mazer v. Stein, 347 U.S. 201, 219 (1954).  Another early decision emphasized that only through copyright protection ‘can we protect intellectual property, the labors of the mind, productions and interests as much a man’s own, and as much the fruit of his honest industry, as the wheat he cultivates or the flocks he rears.’  Davoll v. Brown, 7 F.Cas. 197, 199 (D. Mass. 1845).

Accordingly, Doctorow’s proposal violates the central concept that copyright holders possess a natural right to their creations.  Even ignoring the natural right foundation of copyright, however, no other system of copyright protection has resulted in greater utility than our own, given America’s uniquely prolific music industry as noted above.

In addition to violating the fundamental rights of copyright owners to mutually bargain with music platforms, Seth Cooper of the Free State Foundation cogently summarizes how EFF’s proposal doesn’t accord with the obvious realities of today’s music marketplace:

[T]he EFF plan sidesteps the fact that there are several major Internet music service providers and numerous smaller providers.  Popular interactive (or ‘on-demand’) streaming music providers include Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and Google Play Music.  Popular webcasters include Pandora, iHeartRadio, and Deezer.  And there are many others.  SoundExchange reported that some 3,600 webcasting services were operating in 2019.

Importantly, consumer choices also include nationwide satellite radio broadcaster Sirius XM and local AM/FM radio broadcasters.  Indeed, radio broadcasts are widely available through apps on smartphones and other devices.  Additional choices include digital downloads from major Internet music service providers as well as independent and individual artist websites.  CDs and vinyl records are also available at retail.

Given the number of competitors and platform choices, it is highly unlikely that Internet music services possess market power – or the ability to charge consumers above-market prices and otherwise engage in anti-competitive conduct.  There’s no showing of market power here and so the case for government intervention falls apart.” 

Accordingly, the EFF proposal contravenes fundamental concepts of copyright protections, it proposes to reorder a music marketplace that continues to function well for all of its stakeholders and it clashes with contemporary market realities.

We currently enjoy a functional market with innumerable market participants, and copyright owners across the spectrum possess the freedom to negotiate with a wide variety of potential distributors.  EFF’s proposal nevertheless aims to strip creators of the property rights they currently enjoy without justification.  The market simply isn’t broken.  Supporters of EFF’s proposal curiously assert that today’s market is corrupted by monopolies, but as Mr. Cooper sets forth nicely above, a broad global spectrum of potential avenues exist for consumers to freely access as they prefer.

Accordingly, the notion that we should upend a market in which consumers can access an ever-greater variety of music at low cost is an untenable one.

A better option would be for Congress to expand copyright holders’ protections to the sphere of terrestrial radio via the Ask Musicians for Music Act (AMFM Act), to extend what we know works, rather than foolishly venture into demonstrably defective novel proposals.


July 3rd, 2020 at 11:22 am
Image of the Day: FBI Gun Purchase Background Checks Set Yet Another Record High in June
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Confirming once again, as Americans witness the increasing lawlessness around them, that the 2nd Amendment isn’t the anachronism that its antagonists believe:

Background Checks Set Another Record

Background Checks Set Another Record