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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“Progressive” Bureaucrats and Crony Capitalists Target the Gig Economy Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Wednesday, October 14 2020
Isn’t it odd how 'progressives' such as these seek to permanently impose a strict 1940s-style employment model on our dynamic 2020s world? How is that in any way 'progressive?'

In recent years, the “gig economy” has introduced a universe of new conveniences for consumers, and new flexibility for workers.  

That trend only accelerated amid the coronavirus pandemic, which brought unanticipated procurement needs for consumers, and new health, family, telework or other lifestyle demands for workers.  

Unfortunately but predictably, overzealous bureaucrats, labor unions and crony capitalist special interests consider the gig economy a threat to be stifled rather than an opportunity to be perfected.  

Here’s how TechTarget neatly defines the term “gig economy”:  

A gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations hire independent workers for short-term commitments.  The term “gig” is a slang word for a job that lasts a specified period of time.  Examples of gig employees in the workforce could include freelancers, independent contractors, project-based workers and temporary or part-time hires.  

For workers, the advantages are obvious.  They can set their own hours and work when it’s most convenient for them and their family needs.  They can set their prices.  They can accept or decline job offers based upon their own safety concerns, expertise, time commitments or anything else.  They can even work simultaneously for different and competing companies offering the same service.  It can put food on the table for furloughed or laid-off workers, and it can provide additional income for people who spend their time in other paid or unpaid pursuits such as musicians or artists or homemakers.  

For consumers, the advantages are equally obvious, offering services unheard of a decade ago or even five years ago.  For example, think of Uber rides and speedy food delivery services.  

Indeed, amid coronavirus health concerns, American consumers understandably feel greater reluctance to venture outside the home for meals, and many restaurants remain either closed or significantly restrictive of on-site dining.  Enter gig economy food delivery, which has provided that invaluable service to quarantined or reluctant consumers.  

As referenced above, however, the gig economy’s success has not escaped the jealous eye of government, labor unions and special interests seeking to cripple it.  

Because the National Labor Relations Act and antitrust laws prohibit unionization of independent contractors, “progressive” lawmakers in Congress and states like California, New York and Illinois seek to forcibly reclassify gig workers as formal employees.  In turn, that would end worker flexibility in terms of hours, which days to work and other aspects of job performance that they now choose for themselves.   But to labor unions and the politicians they support, that’s of little import compared to boosting union membership while numbers continue to plummet, in turn reducing the dollars that they can contribute to leftist election campaigns?  

Isn’t it odd how “progressives” such as these seek to permanently impose a strict 1940s-style employment model on our dynamic 2020s world?  How is that in any way “progressive?”  

In similar vein, is there any better barometer of what public policies do not merit Americans’ support than an endorsement from The New York Times?  In a recent opinion piece entitled "California, Reject Prop 22," its editorial board instructs voters an entire continent away to reject a ballot initiative that would protect gig workers’ independent status.  Never mind that gig services like Uber, Lyft and others would likely cease operations in the state if the Times gets its way.  

Elsewhere, interest groups like restaurant owners seek to impose price controls and commission caps on food delivery services, which would threaten similar harm.  

Currently, restaurants can offer online order and delivery via services like DoorDash or Grubhub, and pay a percentage of the order’s cost.  Restaurants and the delivery services agree on a bargained-for commission rate in their contractual terms, and restaurants are obviously under no obligation to retain their services at all.  Restaurants can offer delivery service themselves, use other non-commission services or choose to not offer delivery at all.  

But why tolerate a free market when “progressive” politicians can step in and impose commission caps and price controls, right?  

As one prominent example, consider an organization operating under the deceptive name "American Economic Liberties Project."  It has petitioned Congress, as well as various state legislatures, to tip the market scales in favor of restaurants by capping the commissions that delivery services, with whom they freely contract currently, can legally earn.  How does that in any way accord with the "Economic Liberties" in its organizational name?  

In any event, their price control and commission cap proposal is a terrible idea because those commissions not only pay delivery drivers’ earnings, but also for such things as driver background checks, safety measures, customer support agents, auto and personal insurance, credit card fees that often constitute 3% to 4% of order subtotals, app and website maintenance and marketing costs.  

Moreover, such price controls and commission caps would hit smaller restaurants particularly hard, since delivery services would understandably shift toward larger restaurant chains due to the higher volume and prices that they offer.  

Gig workers contribute $1.3 trillion to the U.S. economy, in addition to the opportunities and conveniences referenced above.  The last thing we should do is allow reckless politicians and self-serving crony capitalists to threaten that through suffocating new regulations like price controls, commission caps and stifling labor reclassifications.  

Question of the Week   
Which one of the following was the first 20th century presidential candidate to call for a Presidential Debate?
More Questions
Quote of the Day   
 
"Wait until Scranton hears about this.One of Joe Biden's ways of contrasting himself with President Trump has been to declare the election a battle of Park Avenue values vs. Scranton, Pa., values.Now we learn that Biden has secretly been playing footsie with China.The statement Wednesday night asserting that the former vice president was a willing and eager participant in a family scheme to make millions…[more]
 
 
—Michael Goodwin, New York Post
— Michael Goodwin, New York Post
 
Liberty Poll   

Do you believe you will be better off over the next four years with Joe Biden as president or with Donald Trump as president?