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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Sorry, New York Times: Science Doesn’t Have a Liberal Bias Print
By Troy Senik
Thursday, February 05 2015
What exactly would it take to make this a crisis for liberals?

It was probably inevitable that the New York Times — which long ago became the most intellectually lazy significant publication in America — would go there. After this week’s controversy regarding parents who abstained from giving their kids the measles vaccine, a pair of Times reporters — Jeremy W. Peters and Richard Perez-Pena — wrote an ostensibly serious news story that began like this:

“The politics of medicine, morality and free will have collided in an emotional debate over vaccines and the government’s place in requiring them, posing a challenge for Republicans who find themselves in the familiar but uncomfortable position of reconciling modern science with the skepticism of their core conservative voters.”

Wait, what? How did this become about conservatives?

Sure, the issue jumped to the top of the news cycle because a couple of prominent Republican politicians, Chris Christie and Rand Paul, raised questions about how much discretion parents should have in deciding about their children’s vaccinations…but the bigger cultural issues here are taking place on the left.

After all, some of the biggest epicenters of anti-vaccine fervor are in wealthy liberal communities like California’s Marin County and one of the most visible spokesman for the cause is Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. What exactly would it take to make this a crisis for liberals?

Democrats have spent the past decade and a half so enamored of the idea that they’re the Party of Science that they haven’t seemed to notice the deeply anti-empirical impulses that have taken hold amongst their own grassroots.

The common thread at work is an unchallenged assumption that anything that’s “natural” must be beneficial, an example of what’s known as the appeal to nature fallacy. That mindset has driven everything from the growing appeal of organic food to widespread opposition to genetically-modified crops to the resistance to vaccines. What do each of these trends have in common? There’s no scientific evidence to support their supposed virtues.

It’s no surprise that the liberal press hasn’t quite been able to wrap their head around the implications. After all, they’ve spent the last decade and a half embracing the idea that “reality has a liberal bias” and accusing Republicans of an “epistemic closure” that prevents them from dealing with the real world. How could they be the ones who have wrapped both arms around superstition?

If you inspect the record, though, it’s really not all that surprising. Think the Left can’t hang on to its beliefs even when all the evidence is pointing in a different direction? Consider this exchange between Barack Obama and Charlie Gibson back during the 2008 elections:

GIBSON: All right. You have…said you would favor an increase in the capital gains tax. As a matter of fact, you said on CNBC, and I quote, "I certainly would not go above what existed under Bill Clinton," which was 28 percent. It's now 15 percent. That's almost a doubling, if you went to 28 percent.

But actually, Bill Clinton, in 1997, signed legislation that dropped the capital gains tax to 20 percent.

OBAMA: Right.

GIBSON: And George Bush has taken it down to 15 percent.

OBAMA: Right.

GIBSON: And in each instance, when the rate dropped, revenues from the tax increased; the government took in more money. And in the 1980s, when the tax was increased to 28 percent, the revenues went down.

So why raise it at all, especially given the fact that 100 million people in this country own stock and would be affected?

OBAMA: Well, Charlie, what I've said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.

So Barack Obama — the liberal Spock, the philosopher king — would raise taxes even if they had the net effect of taking more money away from private citizens and reducing government revenue?

That definition of “fairness” sounds a lot like Winston Churchill’s definition of socialism: “the equal sharing of miseries.”

If George W. Bush had responded to that kind of empirical rebuke with such a thoughtless non sequitur, he’d still be getting killed for it today. Barack Obama? Since the press takes his erudition as a given, this one gets swept under the rug.

Look, both political parties are filled with people who are only too happy to turn a blind eye to evidence that might threaten their core beliefs. That’s a natural human tendency. Liberals don’t deserve special blame for succumbing to this weakness — they deserve special blame for carrying on as if they’re genetically immune to it.

Republicans and Democrats both have weaknesses when it comes to science. The Left ought to be big enough to admit that. After all…they’re supposed to be empiricists.

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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