This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which deregulated American freight…
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Happy 40th to the Staggers Rail Act, Which Deregulated and Saved the U.S. Rail Industry

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…[more]

October 13, 2020 • 11:09 PM

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Fueling the Decline: How Obama’s Energy Policies Are Propelling Us to the Next $4 per Gallon Gas Crisis Print
By Ashton Ellis
Thursday, April 22 2010
The 1970s saw the birth of the environmentalism movement, and witnessed its rapid development from fighting pollution for the benefit of humans to fighting humanity for the benefit of everything else. Through litigation and bureaucratic administration, these zealots successfully made potential domestic oil fields off-limits and rendered opening a new refinery nearly impossible.

The only thing “energetic” about President Barack Obama’s energy policy is its unrelenting destruction of the capitalist spirit.  From maintaining the price-distorting regulations that artificially limit the supply of gasoline to cynically suggesting that his calls for more nuclear power plants and off-shore drilling will benefit taxpayers, the Controller-in-Chief is practicing his craft: sounding like a pragmatist while governing like a leftist. 

Consider the price of gasoline.  In a month’s time, Memorial Day arrives, bringing with it the start of the summer vacation season and the annual spike in gas prices.  Members of Congress will once again mistakenly claim the culprits are greedy oil companies trying to make “windfall” profits from motorists traveling to see grandma. 

Perhaps if Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, furrows his brow tight enough, he might decide that the government needs to even the playing field by pouring billions – maybe trillions, why not? – into alternative fuels. 

Of course, neither of these conclusions start with the premise that government policies are the beginning of the problem. 

After the cognitive dissonance of the 1960s, hippies got religion in the form of earth worship.  The 1970s saw the birth of the environmentalism movement, and witnessed its rapid development from fighting pollution for the benefit of humans to fighting humanity for the benefit of everything else.  Through litigation and bureaucratic administration, these zealots successfully made potential domestic oil fields off-limits and rendered opening a new refinery nearly impossible. 

The result of all this rulemaking was to drastically reduce the supply of domestic crude oil and the refineries that turn it into gasoline.  But since demand for gas remains high, foreign producers stepped forward to supply the domestic shortfall created by the environmental left.  So now Americans buy oil at higher prices from countries like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.  All for the sake of Mother Earth.  

Now, fast-forward to this year.  At first blush, President Obama seemingly ignored his environmentalist friends when he recently announced his decision to allow off-shore drilling near the Virginia coastline – perhaps within the visible horizon!  That came on the heels of several statements indicating support for increasing the number of America’s nuclear facilities, even if each failed to address where to put the refuse.  The howls of protest from the Sierra Club were almost loud enough to convince everyday Americans that the betrayal was sincere. 

Then came the fine print.  The areas now open to exploration are actually a fraction of the total made available under the Bush Administration, so the real story here is that Obama is reducing – not enlarging – domestic oil fields.  As for the overtures on nuclear energy, the Cato Institute’s Jerry Taylor points out that whatever the merits of the technology, the fact is building a nuclear power plant is impossible absent massive government subsidies.  So the net effect of Obama’s outreach towards nuclear power is really a move for more taxpayer spending to prop up a non-competitive industry. 

All this and we’ve yet to mention cap-and-trade, the centerpiece of the comprehensive energy reform agenda.  Though supporters claim it is market friendly, the reality is that the program would impose one of the largest tax increases in American history.  Every citizen who uses energy derived from oil, coal or natural gas would pay thousands of dollars more in taxes.  Like health care reform, the Obama Administration is using talk of markets as a smokescreen for grabbing more control of an entire sector of the economy. 

Gasoline is expensive because the supply of crude oil and refineries are artificially low, while the demand for gas is high.  Compared to alternative fuels, it is an abundant source of energy with the added advantage of enjoying well-established extraction, production and delivery methods.  Unlike health care, immigration, education and the financial industry, stabilizing the price of gas doesn’t take a “comprehensive” plan, just undoing a few senseless regulations.  Then again, maybe that’s the problem from Obama’s perspective: addressing the issue doesn’t present a way to centralize government power in Washington, D.C. – yet. 

Question of the Week   
Which one of the following was the first 20th century presidential candidate to call for a Presidential Debate?
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Quote of the Day   
 
"In nominating Barrett to the Supreme Court, [President Trump] kept his promise by choosing an undaunted originalist -- someone who interprets the Constitution based on the understanding held by its ratifiers.Trump's most profound effect on the Constitution will come when she and the other Trump Justices apply that originalism to the questions of liberty and equality."Read entire article here.…[more]
 
 
—John C. Yoo, Heller Professor Law at U.C. Berkeley School of Law
— John C. Yoo, Heller Professor Law at U.C. Berkeley School of Law
 
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