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R Street joins Public Knowledge, others, in urging Supreme Court to apply appropriate liability standards in key patent-infringement case

Out of the Storm News - February 24, 2015, 3:23 PM

WASHINGTON (Feb. 24, 2015) – The Supreme Court should interpret patent law to limit needless infringement-inducement cases against technology companies, products, and services, the R Street Institute said today, joining other public-policy groups in an amicus curiae brief filed in the Commil v. Cisco case.

The case before the Court centers on whether Cisco is legally liable for infringement of Commil’s patents by inducing others to infringe those patents.“We know that patent and copyright protection are rooted in the same clause of the our Constitution, and we’ve seen their legal doctrines shape each other in the past,” said Mike Godwin, director of innovation policy and general counsel for R Street. “That’s why it’s vital for the court to apply the same liability standards for ‘inducing infringement’ in patent law that have been applied in copyright.”“People should not be held automatically responsible for infringing someone else’s patent if there’s no evidence of culpable, guilty expression and conduct,” he added.

Other organizations joining the Public Knowledge brief include the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, the Association of College and Research Libraries, and the Center for Democracy and Technology.

The brief can be read in full here.

R Street / CDT Happy Hour

Out of the Storm News - February 24, 2015, 2:19 PM
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Consumers’ Sovereignty and Natural vs. Contrived Scarcities

Somewhat Reasonable - February 24, 2015, 1:16 PM

One of the great myths about the capitalist system is the presumption that businessmen make profits at the expense of the consumers and workers in society. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In the free market, consumers are the sovereign rulers who determine what gets produced, and with what qualities and features. The sovereign consumers also determine who will be the owners and entrepreneurs of business enterprises.

The “captains of industry” are not the businessmen, but the buying public who steer the directions into which production is taken. Businessmen, to use a metaphor, are more like the “first mate” aboard a ship who after being given his orders by captain consumer passes it on to the crew, that is, those employed within the enterprises, companies, and firms in terms of the tasks to be done to bring the economic ship to where captain consumer wants it to go.

Consumers Appoint the Entrepreneurs Who Direct Production

As the Austrian economist, Ludwig von Mises, once explained,

“In the capitalist system of society’s economic organization the entrepreneurs determine the course of production. In the performance of this function they are unconditionally and totally subject to the sovereignty of the buying public, the consumers . . .

“The consumers by their buying and abstention from buying elect the entrepreneurs in a daily repeated plebiscite, as it were. They determine who shall own [businesses and enterprises] and who shall not, and how much each owner should own . . .

“If they fail to produce in the cheapest and best possible way those commodities which the consumer are asking for most urgently, they suffer losses and are finally eliminated from their entrepreneurial position. Other men who know better how to serve consumers replace them . . .”

The British economist, William H. Hutt coined the term, “consumers’ sovereignty,” back in the 1930s, especially in his book,Economists and the Public (1936). His point was to emphasize that the essence of the market economy is to be found in the liberty of the individual to make his own choices as both a consumer and a producer.

The Consumers’ Sovereignty Means Freedom in Market Choices

An essential element of an individual’s liberty is that he may not be compelled by either the threat or the use of force by others in society to make him do that which he does not want to do or accept.

This is the hallmark of the meaning of voluntary exchange. You may be reasoned with, argued with, persuaded with. But coercion may not be applied to make you enter into a transaction or accept the terms as which an offer is made if you find it not to your benefit and liking.

In the market economy people divide their labor. Each finds a niche in which to specialize his talents and abilities to earn a living. But he can only earn that living if he successfully directs his energies and efforts to making and supplying some good or service that others are willing to purchase and at a price they are willing to pay.

In this role, each producer is servant to the masters of the market – the consumers. With the income that we have earned in our producer capacity we reenter the market as a consumer, ourselves, and those whom we have served to acquire that income now must serve us in their respective capacities as producers.

How much we have to spend, and therefore, to make monetary “claims” on the outputs and productions of others is a reflection of the extent to which we have satisfied the desires of others in society.

As William Hutt explained in Economists and the Public:

“In regarding the individual as a consumer, we do not see him in his full relationship to society. He is usually also a producer. But as a producer he is the servant of the community. He must apply himself and the property and equipment he possesses to producing what the community wants [that is, all other individuals in their role as consumers] or he will obtain nothing in the form of claims on others in return [in the form of the money income earned with which he demands as a consumer the things he desires from others].

“As a consumer, he commands other producers . . . As a ‘consumer,’ each directs. As a ‘producer,’ each obeys . . . The defense of consumers’ sovereignty rests . . . upon an assumption that liberty does possess supreme importance . . . The complete sovereignty of the consumer is compatible with the fullest scope to the initiative of the individual . . . In other words, it is in harmony with the idea of liberty.”

Free to Choose as Consumers and Producers

Now, it is certainly true that the professional sportsman or movie star has earned far more money than I have as an economics professor. But this is a reflection of the degree to which our fellow citizens place a higher entertainment value on watching the services of the sportsman or film star than they do on information to be gleaned from hearing a lecture or reading an article about “consumers’ sovereignty” and the benefits from free markets.

Could I have attempted to pursue a financially more lucrative profession? Yes. Might I have succeeded? It is possible. But I, early on, made an implicit trade-off in my life: to forego other possible income-earning uses of my human skills to, instead, follow a calling that I both enjoy and find highly rewarding, namely the sharing of my understanding of economics with others and most especially with young minds in the classroom.

Thus, my capacity to “command” the services of others in the marketplace through the dollars that I have to spend is far less than the well-paid professional athlete or multi-million dollar movie “heart-throb.”

Or again to quote from William H. Hutt’s Economists and the Public:

“The sovereignty of the consumer over producers does not extend beyond creating a situation in which the latter can choose between various alternatives. There is no absolute coercion on any individual to act (i.e., to apply his property and powers) in a certain way in reply to society’s [consumers’] indication of its [their] preferences.

“He has the liberty of following his own inclinations and sacrificing advantages which would be available to him from a higher income . . . When he ignores society’s [consumers’] demands . . . he exercises his sovereignty over the disposal of his own powers and property . . . The artist, for example, who could earn [$50,000] a year producing ‘commercial art’ which pleases the public, may decide to follow his own inclinations and produce instead what gives him the greatest satisfaction, but has little commercial value.”

Incomes Earned Reflects What Consumers Think Workers are Worth

In this is another significant lesson about the nature and workings of the free market economy: the “distribution” of income in society is not arbitrary or a matter of the caprice or stone heartedness of the employer.

What businessmen and entrepreneurs offer to pay to those whose labor services and other productive abilities they employ is a reflection of what they think those people and skills are worth in terms of the value they add towards the manufacturing of some finished product they hope to successfully sell to consumers; and what they think they must offer to outbid other businessmen who are their rivals for hiring and employing those whose services of which they are also in need.

Thus, suppose that an employer judges a potential employee’s services in his firm to be worth paying a maximum of, say, $12 an hour. If he could get that worker to take the job for $9 an hour he would view himself as have gotten a profitable bargain.

But he cannot ignore that fact that if there are two competing employers who, respectively, may value that same prospective worker’s labor at $11 and $11.50 an hour, he must, then, offer enough to attract that worker to take a job with him instead of his next closest rival. He must offer a wage above that $11.50 his competitor may be offering and, thus, he tends to bring that employee’s wage closer to the highest value of what some employer thinks that worker’s labor to be worth.

This logic of the competitive process of the free market, however, is often misunderstood because the nature and workings of laissez-faire capitalism is confused with the affect of various government interventions on the outcomes of market interactions.

What are outcomes and effects resulting from interferences by government in the market process are erroneously identified with the results of the free market, or “capitalism.”

This, too, was discussed and explained by William H. Hutt back in the 1930s through a distinction that he made between “natural scarcities” and “contrived scarcities.”

 

“Natural Scarcities” of Means Insufficient to Fulfill All Desired Ends

Man cannot escape from the fact that he is always confronted with the need and necessity to make choices, to make trade-offs between alternatives, and decide what he values more highly and what he values less highly.

The inescapable reason for this is the scarcity of means available in their quantities and/or qualities to serve and satisfy fully all the ends, goals and purposes for which we would like to apply them.

Our time is scarce, with only twenty-four hours in a day. Our mental and physical strength is limited with which to pursue our purposes. The resources and raw materials around us that we identify as “useful things” to make the finished goods and services that we desire are limited in their amounts to produce all the things for which we think them useable.

In the free market economy the relative scarcities of both finished consumer goods and the resources, labor and capital equipment out of which those consumer goods can be made are all registered in the form of the competitive prices at which they may be bought and sold.

If we, as consumers, demand more automobiles we offer to pay higher prices for the greater number of cars we wish to purchase. But to produce more automobiles off the assembly line means that fewer of the scarce resources that go into the manufacture of cars – workers and their labor time, resources, raw materials, component parts, and the machinery needed – will not be available to produce other, alternative, goods that could have been produced with those same means of production, instead.

The prices paid to attract those greater quantities of scarce means into the auto industry (including the additional wages to draw more workers into this sector of the market) are what economists call their “opportunity costs.” That is, the prices that need to be offered and paid that are just sufficient to attract them from an alternative employment in which they also have value in producing something else consumers also want, but not as intensely.

This is the reality of a world in which we are not able to have everything we want, where we want it, in the full amounts we desire. This is why, no matter how hard we try, we can never have it “all.”

Even when through savings, investment, innovation, and industry we succeed over time in increasing our ability to produce more of the things we wish to have, we still never have it all. It is part of the human make-up that as soon as we have successfully reached some desired goals our mind and imagination runs ahead to new and different things that are, once again, not fully within our reach.

It is like walking towards the horizon; no matter how far we go and how fast we try to get there, the horizon remains in front of us, and out of our reach. This is man’s frustration but also the stimulus for all the material and cultural achievements that we call “civilization” that have raised humanity up from primitive subsistence existence.

In the competitive free market, the limits on how much of goods in general and the relative amounts of each within that total is possible of being produced is limited and constrained by what William H. Hutt defined as the “natural scarcities” existing in any society within a period of time. Said Hutt:

“We must conceive of a society in which there are no restrictions on the free movement, adjustment and full utilization of the productive resources in response to the dictates of consumers’ will [as expressed in their market demands for various goods and services].”

Under the “natural scarcity” of things in a free market some people may wish that more hospitals were built for the sick or more research undertaken for a cure for cancer, or more wildlife areas set aside for peaceful contemplation of the beauty of nature. But the critic has no one to blame but the free choices of his fellow citizens and even himself in actually demanding more of other things that prevents the necessary scarce resources and labor from being available to do more of these other desired things as well.

“Contrived Scarcities” and “Contrived Plentitudes” Caused by Government

The critic may not be satisfied with his own (perhaps failed) attempts to persuade enough of his fellow citizens to demand and spend less on these other things so more scarce resources can be freed up and used for more hospitals, medical research and nature preserves. He may then turn to the government and its political power to get what he wants without the agreement and voluntary participation of his “preference-misguided” fellows in society.

William H. Hutt argued that when various individuals and special interest groups turn to the State to get what they want its brings about what he called “contrived scarcities” and “contrived plenitudes.”

If the government increases taxes on the citizenry to fund the supplying of more hospitals, cancer research and wildlife areas, it creates a “contrived plenitude,” that is, an amount of these things in excess of what the market would have found it profitable to supply if production had been guided by what consumers would have wanted and demanded if more of their earned income had not been taxed away.

The amount of such “good things” as hospitals, medical research facilities, and nature areas are, in fact, out of balance – over supplied – with what a free market would have supplied of them if the determination of production in society had been left more fully to be guided by the wishes and desires of the “sovereign consumers.”

On behalf of those not satisfied with the free choices of their fellow citizens and who are willing to use political compulsion to get what they want, government has intruded into and violated the “sovereignty of the consumer” to peacefully, honestly, and voluntarily decide what he wants based on his values, beliefs and desires, and to make it profitable on the competitive market for others to provide him with what he wants out of the income he has peacefully, honestly and voluntarily earned in his own role as a producer.

But the other side of this coin is that there are “contrived scarcities” – a reduced availability – of the goods and services that those sovereign consumers would have been able to have if the greater taxes collected and spent by the government had not resulted in scarce resources and labor being drawn away from producing the goods and services those consumer/taxpayers would have spent their income on if it had not been reduced due to those higher taxes.

 

“Contrived Scarcities” from Import Tariffs and Price Subsidies

Such contrived scarcities take on other forms, as well, other than only the direct taxing away of people’s income. If the government imposes an import tariff or an import quota on foreign goods entering the domestic economy, the available supplies of those goods will be less; and the prices of these goods that consumers will now have to pay will be higher, as a result, than if free trade was practiced and consumers had had a wider free market choice of domestic and foreign suppliers.

Suppose that the government starts to guarantee dairy farmers minimum prices for their produce (as the U.S. government does under its farm price-support programs). With a higher guaranteed price than the market-established price, dairy farmers would find it profitable to expand their dairy cowherds. But this requires more grazing land for the increased number of cows.

The expanded grazing land will have to come from somewhere. Suppose that this land comes out of wheat growing. The wheat crops will tend to decrease, an essential ingredient in bread baking will be reduced in quantity, and the supply of wheat bread available in groceries may be less, with a resulting higher price per loaf that consumers now must pay.

Thus, government interventions such as these would abridge the market-based sovereignty of the consumers, bringing about too much of some goods being produced and too little of others being supplied.

Difficulty of Seeing Government’s Hand in Contrived Scarcities

But the perversity from these types of “contrived scarcity” policies is that the consumers find it difficult to know whether and to what extent the supplies available and the prices paid for goods are due to market-determined “natural scarcities” and how much is due to government manipulation of quantities produced and offered on the market.

In the case of the farm price-support programs, consumers in the market end up paying no less than the government guaranteed price for dairy products, for example, since dairy farmers have no incentive to offer it for less since they know that any unsold surpluses at the guaranteed price will be bought up by the government at taxpayers’ expense.

At the same time, the possible reduced wheat crops that negatively impacts the supply of wheat bread and raises its price, for instance, is so many steps away from the immediate vision and understanding of the consumers of bread that it is nearly impossible for ordinary citizens to appreciate the links in the chains of government intervention that has made bread more costly and less available.

Thus, the “free market” gets blamed for high or rising prices for various goods because of the businessman’s “greedy profit motive” that makes him fail to produce more of what people want and desire.

Consumers seem to be unrestricted in their choices concerning how to spend whatever after-tax income that may remain in their pockets; market interactions of supply and demand seems to determine the prices that those consumers pay; and thus the reason for any frustrating scarcities and expensiveness of desired goods gets placed at the doorstep of “selfish” acts of profit-motivated capitalists and businessmen, in general.

But behind the scenes the incentive, profitability and opportunity to produce goods guided by the actual demands of the “sovereign consumers” have been thwarted by government taxing, pricing and regulatory policy manipulations bringing about contrived or artificial scarcities of some goods on the supply-side of the market or wasteful over production or “contrived plentitudes” of other goods not reflecting what those consumers would really want produced if the market was left free of the intervening and distorting hand of the those in political power serving particular special interest groups.

Getting Government Out of the Market Can End Contrived Scarcities

While “natural scarcities” can only be reduced in the longer-run through savings, investment, innovation and industry that increases the supply and improves the qualities of desired goods, in principle, “contrived scarcities” and artificial “plentitudes” can be corrected much sooner.

Or as William H. Hutt expressed it, “Contrived scarcities, unlike natural scarcities, are not beyond the power of change by individuals and hence of a different degree of permanence: restrictions can be overcome . . . Contrived scarcities involve, then the frustration of consumers’ sovereignty; and what is usually meant when the removal of restrictions on competition is recommended is that such contrivances shall be eliminated.”

One of the tasks of friends of capitalism and free markets, therefore, is to explain to our fellow citizens that while a “natural scarcity” of useful means to achieve our various ends is inescapable in the reality of the human circumstance, there are some scarcities of resources and desired goods that are artificial, “contrived scarcities,” due precisely to government and its interventions in the market process.

Such contrived scarcities, in principle, could be gone tomorrow if the government’s economic policies fostering, creating and sustaining them were abolished and eliminated. The individual’s sovereignty over his choices and actions as both consumer and producer will have been more fully restored.

Free men in free markets would then be at liberty to improve their conditions without the disrupting and distorting hand of political power and special interest politicking that invariably makes many things less available and more expensive than if competitive capitalism were unshackled from the government policies that only succeed in making us poorer and far less free than we need to be.

 

[Originally published at EpicTimes]

 

Categories: On the Blog

The difference between wanting a carbon tax and getting one

Out of the Storm News - February 24, 2015, 12:55 PM

Negotiation is the process by which value is determined by the intensity of the involved parties’ desires. The more that one party wants something the other controls, the greater the leverage of the petitioned party. Often, appearing to want something less is what stands between striking a fair deal and outright failure. This market-derived lesson is one that proponents of a carbon tax must learn, and quickly.

At the Northern California Citizens Climate Lobby conference, a room of more than 300 highly motivated and genuinely passionate people packed a large conference room on a Friday night to listen to a panel discuss what the moderator, Greg Dalton of the Commonwealth Club, referred to as “the end of the world.” Over the course of a two-hour conversation, the panelists considered how a carbon tax would work; what to do with the money that it would collect; and questions of political strategy. All of these issues were approached through the prism of the evening’s prompt: “Pricing Carbon: Can Conservatives and Progressives Agree?”

As one of the panelists, I was struck by the seriousness with which the audience took the panel’s suggestions. Members of CCL believe, rightly, that reconciling the disparate aims of the left and the right is a prerequisite to “creating the political will for a livable world.” Toward that end, members strive to pocket their normative political preferences in the hope that their organization, and its proposal, will attract bipartisan support.

The group’s executive director, a bespectacled and affable gentleman named Mark Reynolds, strives mightily to maintain his group’s rigid message discipline. He deserves credit for doing so; CCL has been astonishingly successful since he took over. The lobby has doubled in size for each of the last five years and now counts more than 16,000 members within its ranks. More importantly, CCL is meeting with elected officials and providing a constructive outlet for a hitherto misdirected potent political force.

Yet like many other groups in the carbon tax and larger climate-change movement, CCL faces an obstacle intrinsic to its effort. Virtually all of its members believe climate change is the single greatest threat that faces the nation, and that the threat is imminent. Why else would anybody sacrifice an unseasonably warm Friday night in San Francisco?

This unspoken assumption was given a voice as the evening wound down and the audience had an opportunity to present the panel with questions. An earnest woman in the front row asked gravely, “how much time do we have left?”

Responses from the panel varied wildly, but two broad themes emerged. The first, articulated by Bruce Hamilton of the Sierra Club, was that action cannot come soon enough and that time is short to avert catastrophe. The loud round of applause that followed his observation suggested that his belief largely jibed with the audience’s.

The second theme, championed in a memorable fashion by Future 500 President Bill Shireman, was that, since he became an environmentalist decades ago, the refrain that “we only have 10 years left to act” has become all too familiar. In other words, that action is necessary but there is some time left to act. The response to Bill’s comment was subdued, suggesting that the very active core of CCL’s membership does not believe delay is tolerable.

If they hope to succeed, those audience members would do well to change their approach, if not their belief. Persuadable elements of the right, though willing to listen and even to deal, do not share their “world is ending” anxiety. Without that urgency, and keen to achieve their public policy gains, an empowered right will be emboldened to seek concessions commensurate to the perceived level of desperation they encounter. A scenario in which conservative support for a carbon tax is predicated upon the end of, for instance, the Affordable Care Act is not unthinkable.

At a certain point, the right’s asks will become so large that allies of convenience on the left (labor or poverty advocates) will be forced to abandon their support of climate-change legislation in favor of their own core priorities. For this reason, the time horizon question will prove dispositive unless carbon tax advocates’ urgency can be tempered.

Ultimately, averting the “end of the world” may well require appearing to care less about the world’s end.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

The worst sort of crony capitalism

Out of the Storm News - February 24, 2015, 11:49 AM

“There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch,” the science fiction writer Robert Heinlein wrote in his 1966 libertarian classic The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. But when it comes to some segments of the financial services industry, local regulators actually take that notion to the next logical step. Under a variety of antiquated anti-competitive statutes, offering your customer a free lunch – that is, a rebate – is actually illegal, if the offer comes from an insurance or real estate agent.

State laws barring firms from kicking back some of the proceeds from an insurance premium or agent commission to their customers date back to the 19th century. Initially, they were justified on grounds that life insurance companies, in particular, had taken so forcefully to the practice of rebates that they were effectively engaged in an arm’s race that threatened the industry’s solvency. Given the paucity of tools the regulators of the 1800s had to measure risk-based capital, some basic admonitions against overzealous competition might even have been justified, under the circumstances.

But such laws have managed to persist for more than a century largely thanks to a combination of political inertia and the lobbying prowess of incumbent industry players. Though initially focused on literal cash rebates, the regulations have evolved over the decades to cover just about any extra perk that could be said to “induce” a potential customer to buy, other than the most insignificant of pen and keychain swag. Regulators in Utah recently barred an online broker from giving away software that helps small businesses track payroll and other human resources functions, even though the program was free to clients and non-clients alike.

There are, of course, rare cases outside of local real estate and insurance markets where giving something away for free might be considered a crime. Microsoft famously faced the scrutiny of the Clinton administration’s antitrust regulators for its bundling of the Internet Explorer browser with copies of Windows 95. More recently, chip-maker Intel in 2010 settled a Federal Trade Commission complaint that it was offering illegal rebates to maintain its dominant market position. But even leaving aside the merits of either of those cases, both of which likely fail Judge Robert Bork’s landmark directive that antitrust law must only be used as a “consumer welfare prescription,” it’s clear that the markets where anti-rebating statutes are enforced are far from oligopolies. The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America boasts more than 250,000 members. The National Association of Realtors claims more than 1 million.

Proponents of anti-rebating laws argue that they serve as essential protections, ensuring that all consumers are treated fairly and equitably. But one can’t help but notice that such arguments inevitably stem from industry incumbents, who perhaps not coincidentally enjoy the perks of regulatory checks on competition. Actual professional consumer advocates have tended to see such arguments as the balderdash that they are. When a Florida court struck down that state’s anti-rebating law in 1984, none other than Ralph Nader wrote:

By preventing competition, the companies could avoid unpredictable agent behavior in return for legally price-fixing the commission at higher than market levels. It has been a cushy arrangement for both companies and agencies as they otherwise pledge their allegiance to free enterprise and against government regulation.

Such laws used to be common in real estate markets, as well, but most states have abandoned them, particularly as the Internet made direct sales by owners a more feasible option than they previously had been. Nonetheless, ten states – Alabama, Alaska, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oregon and Tennessee – still maintain bans on offering any sort of rebate to a real estate customer, despite long-standing pressure from the federal Department of Justice to abolish such bans. The DOJ’s Antitrust Division notes that consumers in states that permit rebating can save as much as $6,200 in commission fees on the sale of a median-priced home.

Unsurprisingly, the repeal of anti-rebating statutes in most state real estate markets has not led to any marked uptick in unfair consumer practices, discriminatory treatment of clients or any of the other catastrophic harms predicted by proponents, other than potentially contributing to the 34 percent drop in average real estate commissions nationwide since 2004. Nor has the repeal of anti-rebating laws in insurance markets led to any notable harm to consumers in Florida or California, which scrapped its statute as part of the otherwise lamentable Proposition 103 initiative in 1988.

It isn’t just that anti-rebating laws are archaic and anti-competitive. They ultimately could serve as serious impediments to the ability of mom and pop agencies to find new ways to justify their existence. Younger consumers are more than comfortable conducting almost all business online. Throwing in additional free services, like risk management and help with claims and benefits administration, just might be the human touch needed to keep those face-to-face relationships going.

Anti-rebating laws are the worst sort of crony capitalism; on this, even Ralph Nader and the tea party should be able to agree.

DHS spent a lot of money on office furniture

Out of the Storm News - February 24, 2015, 10:20 AM

This week, Congress is readying for it’s biggest battle yet, over funding for the Department of Homeland Security, in return for Barack Obama forgetting all about that little executive amnesty order that has since been stayed by a Texas federal court. While the Republicans and Democrats fight over whether DHS is using their money wisely, and whether important programs will suffer as a result of a temporary funding halt, the Department of Homeland Security, it seems, is less than concerned. After all, it’s not immigration enforcement or the Transportation Safety Administration they’re worried about losing the cash for.

Nope, it’s their interior design budget:

Funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—which is due to expire at the end of this week unless an agreement in Washington is reached—has continued to rise under President Barack Obama. His administration claims the agency’s increased funding is necessary to protect the homeland, but records show that the DHS has continued to increase its spending on furniture and office makeovers as its budget has been increased.

A review of records on the official government spending website by the Washington Free Beacon shows the agency has spent nearly $150 million on office furniture and makeovers since Obama took office. Those fiscal years for which he has been responsible and whose budgets have been enacted are FY2010 through 2014…

Records show that the DHS spent $147.7 million on furniture for FY 2010 through 2014.

Examples of some of the contracts reviewed show that $4.1 million was spent for “nationwide field furniture management services contract”; $1.3 million for “systems furniture” for its Laguan Niguel, Calif., location; and $1.1 million for furniture for an office in Vermont.

In fiscal year 2014, the DHS had over 1,300 contracts labeled “office furniture” on the spending website. DHS spent nearly $28 million for furniture in that fiscal year alone.

Those contracts include $2.4 million for office furniture for a Washington, D.C., office. That contract was signed on Sept. 26, 2014 and Miller’s of Columbia in North Carolina was the recipient.

Another contract shows $163,856 was spent for “waiting room seating” for one office. That contract was signed on May 5, 2014.

The DHS also spent $148,809 on “aluminum folding tables in support of Sandy Recovery Office” according to the contract for a New York office signed in 2014. Hurricane Sandy occurred in 2012.

Other high contract amounts include $1.3 million spent on “office furniture and related items” for an office in New York.

I think the “furniture management services” that clock in at $1.3 million is the best expenditure on this list. After all, when you’re spending millions on furniture, you should probably have an entire agency with a more-than $1 million dollar budget just to administer the program, right?

According to the federal budget, DHS’ allocation is about $10 billion higher now than it was at the end of George W. Bush’s term. If you consider how much harder it appears to have been working in those days, the fact that DHS is looking at a cool $60.2 billion in funding might make you a little miffed. But you have to think about it from their perspective. Even if everyone in DHS is legally required to show up for work, whether Congress has approved continuing funding or not, the offices they’ll show up to are probably downright shabby. That $10 million could go a long way towards updating and remodeling their facilities to ensure a necessary comfort level.

Granted, the budget fight is about more than DHS’ wasteful spending. It’s about the cornerstone purpose of a three-branch government. But it’s always nice to know that government agencies live up to your worst expectations.

R Street paper touts importance of federal research and development in nuclear power

Out of the Storm News - February 24, 2015, 9:17 AM

WASHINGTON (Feb. 24, 2015) – Federal research policy should be reoriented to recognize the U.S. nuclear sector as a national asset that contributes to domestic economic, energy security and environmental goals, according to a paper released by the R Street Institute today.

In “The Role of U.S. Research and Development Policy in Nuclear Power,” R Street Senior Fellow George David Banks writes that nuclear power is critical to U.S. national interests because of its inherent link to the nonproliferation agenda and importance to the U.S. Navy, including its supply chain and recruitment efforts.Banks lays out several steps federal and state governments should take to protect the existing nuclear fleet, including taking a technology-neutral approach to emissions reductions.“Nuclear power should be treated the same as other non-emitting sources,” wrote Banks. “Regulators and grid operators should pursue initiatives that provide adequate compensation for the positive attributes of nuclear power.”

“Moreover,” Banks wrote, “as long as government favors renewables over nuclear, the private sector will be less willing to invest in the future of nuclear power.”

Banks also highlights the importance of making nuclear power vastly more efficient, to improve its competitiveness with shale gas and subsidized generation. To achieve this, the United States must shift more research dollars away from areas where the private sector is capable of investment and toward advanced nuclear concepts and new materials, which will produce greater revenue streams and significantly reduced waste.

As part of the research effort, Washington should explore reforms to current cost-share requirements for private sector R&D, which in some cases subsidizes what industry would do anyway.

“The federal government should focus on what industry cannot do and will not do it on its own – generally high-risk, high-reward research,” he wrote.

To further research efforts, Banks notes the importance of U.S. investment in a new fast test reactor that would be versatile and capable of testing a number of different concepts, a capability that would help win broader support across the nuclear energy community.

The full report can be found here:
http://www.rstreet.org/policy-study/the-role-of-u-s-research-and-development-policy-in-nuclear-power/

The role of U.S. research and development policy in nuclear power

Out of the Storm News - February 24, 2015, 9:00 AM

The U.S. civil nuclear sector faces a number of challenges that threaten grid reliability and climate mitigation goals. Though current U.S. reactor designs improve confidence in the predictability of construction schedules and costs, the United States is unlikely to see a substantial expansion of its nuclear fleet in the near future. The biggest current obstacles are cheap shale gas and continued mandates and subsidies for other forms of generation, particularly renewables. State and federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, should treat nuclear power like any other non-emitting source. Furthermore, the federal government should refocus its nuclear research and development programs. Of particular value to improving the competitiveness of nuclear power would be advances that reduce operation and maintenance costs for the existing fleet and that improve the thermal efficiency and fuel burn-up of future reactors, thus reducing waste streams and significantly increasing revenue streams for owners and operators. A new fast test reactor that allows testing of advanced concepts should be built as soon as possible, to achieve these strategically important objectives.

Is it unfair to compare ISIS to the Nazis?

Out of the Storm News - February 24, 2015, 8:54 AM

From Newsweek:

Is it time to repeal Godwin’s Law? The rise of ISIS–a fast-growing, fascistic, expansionist force that’s willing to murder any person who dares defying its strict tenets–gets many people thinking of World War II.

In 1990, Mike Godwin, a lawyer and author, observed that in online conversations someone will eventually invoke the war against fascism. As Godwin framed his law, in long strings of online debates “the probability of a reference or comparison to Hitler or to Nazis approaches 1.”

Godwin’s insight is profound. The N word (as in Nazi) in casual debate is inadequate. Hitler’s crimes were so painful that no Seinfeld-esque “soup Nazi” should introduce his name into serious discourse…

…In ISIS’s case, it seems, Godwin violations just roll off the tongue.

Godwin himself tells me that neither he nor anyone else is in charge of his eponymous “law,” so anyone can break it. “The Third Reich taught us once and for all how fragile civilization really is, and how, surprisingly, a whole society could allow and even encourage new, ‘modernized’ forms of massive death and destruction,” he said. ISIS, for now, is a “footnote to what we learned in the 20th century about how fragile civilization is.”

Government Food Guidelines Reject Autonomy, Independence

Somewhat Reasonable - February 23, 2015, 6:31 PM

 

Leave it to Enviro-wackos to crawl into bed with public health scolds in order to restrict individual Americans freedom to eat as they choose.

You knew it was coming. First you’re forced to buy government mandated health insurance then, because the insurers that collaborated with the President Obama to create the monster known as “Obamacare,” want to reduce payouts, the government now wants to tell American’s what they can eat and how much TV and computer time they can have.

Think I’m exaggerating? Think again.

According to an article in The Washington Free Beacon, the federal committee responsible for nutrition guidelines, Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), is calling for the adoption of “plant-based” diets, taxes on dessert, trained obesity “interventionists” at worksites, and electronic monitoring of how long Americans sit in front of the television.

The government will use the DGAC’s far-reaching 571-pages of recommendations to  to develop the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans that are the basis for government food assistance programs, nutrition education efforts, and for making “decisions about national health objectives.”

The DGAC wants “trained interventionists,” inserted into schools, hospitals, work sites, restaraunts and public building to ensure people are eating what the committee believes are the right things. To discourage backsliding in private, the DGAC is calling for limiting peoples access to high calorie foods in public buildings, “limit the exposure” of advertisements for junk food, a soda tax, and taxing high sugar and salt items and dessert.

In addition the DGAC is recommending “coaching or counseling sessions,” “peer-based social support,” and “electronic tracking and monitoring of the use of screen-based technologies” as a way to limit screen time. Yes, you read right, they want to tell everyone how much time they can spend in front of the TV.

Now comes the recommendations that trod on my special area of expertise. The DGAC (climate experts all, I’m sure), had the temerity to recommend Americans move towards plant based diets, not for health reasons, but to improve sustainability and reduce the threat of global warming.

There is no evidence, though there is much speculation and hype, that current diets in the developed countries are unsustainable (whatever that means). Only those wedded to the idea that the Earth’s food system is a fixed pie, with limited slices, can one argue how we eat today is unsustainable. However, if you’ve followed agricultural, technological and population trends over the centuries since Malthus first foisted upon us the idea that population would outstrip food supply, you’ll recognize that the pie’s size is not fixed, but ever growing. Why should people eat like their much poorer, less healthy ancestors once did? I know populations in developing countries want diets more like our own, and less like the ones they are currently restricted to by faulty economic and corrupt political systems.

The committee also said that “altering individual and population dietary choices and patterns” would be necessary to meet its sustainability goals, as well as policy changes.

Sadly, I am all to often reminded that the hubris of government planners know no bounds.

As the Beacon reports, outside of the communities of radical environmentalists and would be public health wardens, response to the DGAC guidelines have been negative.

Per the Beacon:
“The Committee’s foray into the murky waters of sustainability is well beyond its scope  and expertise. It’s akin to having a dermatologist provide recommendations about cardiac  care,” Barry Carpenter, president and CEO of the North American Meat Institute, said in a  statement.

 Jeff Stier, a fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research, said the report  “was heavily influenced by activists’ plans to change the nation’s dietary guidelines to  promote foods that they believe have ‘a smaller carbon footprint.'”

This country was founded on the ideal of individual freedom, not big-state nannyism, which is what has made it the envy of the world.

I’d like to leave my size 9 1/2 carbon footprint on the DGAC’s members behinds.

 

Categories: On the Blog

From Internet to Obamanet

Stuff We Wish We Wrote - Homepage - February 23, 2015, 5:59 PM
Critics of President Obama’s “net neutrality” plan call it ObamaCare for the Internet. That’s unfair to ObamaCare. Both ObamaCare and “Obamanet” submit huge…

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Out of the Storm News - February 23, 2015, 4:44 PM

Testimony to Utah House Business and Labor Committee

Out of the Storm News - February 23, 2015, 4:27 PM

Chair Peterson, ladies and gentlemen of the committee, my name is Ian Adams and I am the Western region director of the R Street Institute. Thank you for hearing my testimony today.

R Street is a non-profit, free-market think tank based in Washington, D.C., though I hail from Sacramento. We maintain the largest insurance-focused project of any non-industry think tank and also engage in research concerning disruptive technologies.

Though we are free marketers, we also believe there is a productive role for regulation to play in preventing consumer harm.

The controversy presented by the current interpretation of Utah’s anti-rebating statute is at the intersection of insurance and innovation. For this reason, I have examined the Utah situation in a recently released white paper entitled “Anti-rebating laws and the Utah experience.”

My research indicates that, from a free-market perspective, the current interpretation of Utah’s anti-rebating law requires legislative correction.

As you are aware, insurance is largely regulated by the states. Anti-rebating laws are widespread. 48 of 50 states have anti-rebating laws. Among the states, there is a high level of interpretive uniformity about what constitutes an “inducement.”

These laws were first introduced in the 19th century to achieve two overarching objectives:

  1. To maintain insurer solvency; and
  2. To prevent impermissible discrimination between customers.

To the extent that Utah’s anti-rebating law still seeks to further the policy objectives of the original anti-rebating laws, the interpretive judgment of the Department of Insurance concerning “inducements” accomplishes neither of those goals. Solvency concerns have been resolved by the introduction of risk-based capital standards and there is scant evidence in the states that do not maintain anti-rebating statutes that discriminatory treatment is an issue.

Even if there were evidence of impermissible discriminatory conduct, other legal proscriptions against discriminatory market conduct are already on the books and are much more effective.

By removing the nexus between the sale of an insurance product and an inducement, Utah’s interpretation of what constitutes an inducement has become an aberration unmoored from original intent. What’s worse, it does not remedy a clear consumer harm, which is the principal test of the need for regulatory intervention.

At a higher level of abstraction, for innovation to flourish, predictability and consistency are necessary. Thus, while no anti-rebating laws anticipated the innovation in question here, a permissive interpretation of the law is a preferable public policy outcome in the absence of a clear harm to consumers. For markets to flourish, innovation must be as permissionless as possible.

A near-term solution that affirms Utah’s status as a mainstream jurisdiction on this issue will allow consumers in Utah to benefit from a genuine and normatively desirable innovation.

Thank you for your time, I am happy to field any questions that the committee has.

 

Heartland Daily Podcast – John Davidson: “Medicaid Expansion by Another Name”

Somewhat Reasonable - February 23, 2015, 3:57 PM

In this edition of the Heartland Daily Podcast, Research Fellow Sean Parnell sits down with Texas Public Policy Foundation’s John Davidson. Davidson discusses his latest paper, “Medicaid Expansion by Another Name,” which describes the largely unsuccessful efforts of several Republican governors to get even modest reforms of Medicaid in exchange for expanding the program under Obamacare.

Instead of getting real work requirements, minor premium payments, and increased cost sharing for inappropriate use of the emergency room, these governors have settled for cosmetic changes with little real chance of reforming the broken Medicaid system.

Davidson also shares his thoughts on what the starting point needs to be for real medicaid reform, block granting funds to the states and allowing them to innovate and design programs that meet their needs, not those of politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, DC.

[Subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast for free at this link.]

Categories: On the Blog

The Climate Con Goes On

Somewhat Reasonable - February 23, 2015, 3:56 PM

Some 200 nations may sign a “modest” Kyoto II climate treaty, say December 2014 media reports from Lima, Peru. But will developing nations agree to stop using coal to generate electricity? No. Curtail economic growth? No. Cease emitting carbon dioxide? Maybe, but only a little, sometime in the future, when it is more convenient to do so, without binding commitments. Then why would they sign a treaty?

Primarily because they expect to get free energy technology transfers, and billions of dollars a year in climate “mitigation, adaptation and reparation” money from Western nations that they blame (and which blame themselves) for the “dangerous climate change,” rising seas and “extreme weather” that they claim are “unprecedented” and due to carbon dioxide emissions during the 150 years since the Industrial Revolution began. These FRCs (Formerly Rich Countries) have implemented low-carbon energy policies and penalties that have strangled their economies, dramatically increased energy prices and killed millions of jobs. But now poor developing countries demand that they also transfer $100 billion per year, for decades (with most of that probably going to their governing elites’ Swiss banks accounts).

Where is this likely taking us? President Obama has long promised to “fundamentally transform” the U.S. economy and ensure that electricity prices “necessarily skyrocket.” His edicts are doing precisely that. And now Christiana Figueres, the UN’s chief climate change official, has declared that her unelected bureaucrats are undertaking “probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the [global] economic development model.” [emphasis added] Her incredible admission underscores what another high-ranking IPCC official said several years ago: “Climate policy has almost nothing to do anymore with environmental protection. The next world climate summit is actually an economy summit, during which the distribution of the world’s resources will be negotiated.”

Why would any sane families or nations consign their fates to such insane, perverse arrangements? The arrangements are being imposed on them, through force, fabrication and fraud.

Poor, middle and working class families will get little but more layoffs, further reductions in living standards and longer postponement of dreams. But meanwhile Climate Chaos, Inc. (Big Green, Big Government, alarmist scientists, crony corporatist “green” energy companies, and allied universities and scientific groups) will become richer, gain more control over our lives and livelihoods, and rarely be held accountable for the damage they cause. Retracting their “dangerous manmade climate change” tautologies would endanger their money, power and reputations.

That’s why their hypotheses, assertions, intentions and computer models always trump reality. It’s why they are increasingly vicious and relentless in vilifying realist scientists like Willie Soon who challenge their “97% consensus” and “manmade climate catastrophe” mantras – and in demanding that the news media ignore experts and analyses that do not toe the Climate Chaos line. They denigrate realists as “climate deniers” (deliberately suggesting Holocaust denial) and “oil industry shills” (while hiding their own suspect ethics, data “adjustments,” and Big Green billion-dollar Russian and other funding sources).

Realists get precious little (or no) oil money and constantly underscore the role of climate change throughout Earth and human history. What we contest is the notion that climate and weather fluctuations today are manmade, unprecedented and dangerous. Alarmists deny that Earth’s climate is often in flux, solar and other natural forces drive weather and climate, and atmospheric carbon dioxide plays only a minimal role. Real-world evidence demolishes virtually every alarmist claim.

The climate reality record is presented in a readable, thought-provoking new book, About Face: Why the world needs more CO2; The failed science of global warming, by late U.S. economist Arthur Hughes, Australian geologist Cliff Ollier and Canadian meteorologist Madhav Khandekar. Sea level is rising at only1.5 mm per year now (six inches per century), they note, and there is zero evidence that the rate is escalating or that coastal communities are at risk. Nor is “ocean acidification” a legitimate problem.

Alarmists use it to replace other disproven scares with a new panic. Earth’s oceans have never been acidic. They are mildly alkaline. Their enormous volumes of water cannot become acidic – that is, plummet from an 8.2 pH level 150 years ago and their current 8.1 pH into the acidic realm of 7.0 or lower, due to the tiny amount of atmospheric CO2 attributable to fossil fuel use, in less than five centuries, experts explain.

The tiny effect of rising CO2 levels on climate contrasts sharply with their enormous benefits to plant growth and agriculture. Not only is more CO2 “greening” deserts, forests and grasslands; it is increasing grain and food yields worldwide, and helping people in developing nations live longer, healthier lives.

Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are not in danger of collapsing, the About Face authors demonstrate; in fact, they are growing. Similarly, contrary to another scare, extreme weather events are not increasing.

No Category 3-5 hurricane has struck the United States for a record nine years, and Earth’s temperature has not budged for 18 years. Claims that 2014 was “the hottest year on record” are based on airport and urban measurements that are higher than rural locations and are always “adjusted” upward, with year-to-year differences expressed in hundredths of a degree. Outside those areas, for most of the world – the 70% of Earth’s surface that is oceans and 85% of land area that is mountains, deserts, grasslands, tundra, and boreal or tropical rain forests – practically no data exist. So NASA and other alarmists falsely extrapolate from their manipulated urban data to fill in massive gaps for the other 95% of the Earth.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Northeast is suffering through record snows and its lowest winter temperatures in decades, and America’s East Coast air has been 25-30 degrees F below normal. England’s winter death rate is almost one-third higher than normal: nearly 29,000 deaths in a two-week period in January 2015, largely because people can no longer afford to heat their homes properly, due to UK climate policies.

What’s really going on? Our sun “has gone quiet again, during what is likely to be the weakest sunspot cycle in more than a century,” dating back to 1906, says Vencore weather analyst Paul Dorian.

Alarmists don’t want to talk about that – or about what is happening in Asia. BP’s Energy Outlook 2035 report forecasts that China’s oil, natural gas and coal use will increase by some 50% and its carbon dioxide emissions by 37% over the next 20 years. India’s energy production will soar 117% – with fossil fuels accounting for 87% of all demand in 2035. Its CO2 emissions will also skyrocket. So even if the USA and EU eliminated fossil fuels, atmospheric carbon dioxide would continue to climb.

Climate alarmists want the newspaper and television media to ignore this information and the “skeptics” who might present it. Bill Nye “the science guy” recently asked MSNBC to link all weather events to climate change. “Just say the words climate change” when you talk about this winter’s cold and snow,” he begged. A new study shows how widespread these repulsive practices have become.

Quoting one journalist, a George Mason University analysis found that U.S. media outlets “pretty much” agree that climate change “is real, it’s happening, and we’re responsible. That debate is over.” As a result, “critics are no longer being interviewed,” the study said. In the view of “mainstream” media outlets, seeking or presenting both sides on the climate issue is a “false balance.” At least one news organization now has an explicit editorial policy “discouraging reporters from quoting climate change deniers in environment or science coverage,” the Washington Examiner noted.

Media reputations are at stake. They’ve been in bed so long with the Climate Chaos complex that acknowledging the critical role of natural forces, the expertise of climate realists, the debate that still rages, or the Grand Canyon between climate crisis claims and real-world evidence would destroy what little credibility the media still has. It would also start the collapse of the Climate Chaos house of cards.

But the real stakes are much higher. They are the businesses, jobs, families, living standards and liberties that will be increasingly threatened if President Obama, EPA, Big Green and the United Nations remain free to impose their climate and energy agenda. Responsible governors, state legislators and members of Congress must get involved, block these actions, and roll back the destructive policies.

Categories: On the Blog

America’s Title II Protectionism Will Hurt Google & Silicon Valley in EU

Somewhat Reasonable - February 23, 2015, 3:31 PM

Last November, President Obama effectively abandoned America’s longstanding free trade Internet policy established by President Clinton, in favor of a protectionist Internet industrial policy to benefit America’s national champions, Silicon Valley, under the guise of “net neutrality” policy.

Flipping U.S. Internet policy from global digital free trade to maximal national Internet regulation could end up hurting Silicon Valley the most, because they most benefit from, and depend on, the current free flow of information globally on the Internet.

Ironically, America also is forfeiting the digital free trade policy high ground by leading the world toward a “Splinternet” vision of more nationalistic maximal utility regulation of the Internet and its content.

In particular, it will be much harder for the U.S. to credibly object that the EU’s: creation of a European Digital Single Market (DSM), tightening of the EU-U.S. Data Protection Safe Harbor, and its aggressive enforcement of EU antitrust, privacy, and tax laws against Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple, is protectionist, when America’s new FCC utility regulation of the Internet is a transparently protectionist American industrial policy to advantage America’s national champions in Silicon Valley.

The hypocrisy of urging other nations to “do as we say not as we do” has never been a winning trade negotiating strategy.

President Clinton’s 1997 “Framework for Global Electronic Commerce,” was inherently a global internet free trade vision, with the primary goals that “the private sector should lead” and “governments should avoid undue restrictions on electronic commerce.” The phenomenal Internet we know today is a result of that global-oriented vision.

In stark contrast, President Obama has called for an inherently nation-centric protectionist Internet vision in urging America’s FCC to impose the “strongest possible” utility regulation of America’s Internet, via a quasi-nationalization of America’s Internet infrastructure by reclassifying the Internet from a non-price regulated “information service” to a price-regulated “telecommunications” service under the “Title II Common Carriers” section of the 1934 Communications Act.

February 26th, the FCC is widely expected to make operative the President’s November statement of new American Internet policy in a partisan 3-2 vote.

How is Title II a protectionist Internet policy?

This is not only a domestic decision, but also a seminal trade and foreign policy decision.

By asserting the legal authority to change the legal status of the Internet in America to a “telecommunications” service, the FCC decision will effectively legally activate “telecommunications” trade treaty obligations for the Internet under the United Nations International Telecommunications Union’s (ITU) constitution.

Specifically, ITU agreement ITU-T D.50 “recognizes the sovereign right of each State to regulate its telecommunications” as it determines.

Historically, ITU “telecommunications” regulation has long been a “sender party pays” economic model, where every country can set its own per-minute tariff for telephone calls coming into the country much like a nation can set a protectionist tariff on certain types of imports.

However, the phenomenal growth of Silicon Valley’s now dominant Internet companies has flowed directly from the Internet’s opposite “receiving party pays” economic model.

Receiving party pays” has been brilliantly re-branded in America as “net neutrality” and “innovation without permission” because ISPs and users inherently must implicitly subsidize dominant Internet companies’ substantial costs of distributing their highly-asymmetric streams of downstream Internet traffic. To illustrate, in the U.S. two companies, Netflix and Google-YouTube, comprise roughly half of all American Internet downstream traffic per Sandvine.

Thus the current free flow of global information that we know of as the Internet today is a direct result of the free trade arrangement of the “receiving party pays” model.

This lucrative model generates an enormous implicit digital trade surplus for America vis-à-vis the world because America’s Silicon Valley companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple dominate Internet products and services, and hence downstream Internet traffic, internationally.

Only in the U.S. does it make economic sense to define the Internet as “telecommunications” to mandate a “receiving party pays” model.

However for the roughly two hundred other countries in the world, the new powerful economic incentive is to legally define their national Internet traffic like America now has as “telecommunications.”

That way, under existing ITU agreement ITU-T D.50, they can legally replace their current Internet implicit “receiving party pays” model that generates large implicit digital trade deficits with the U.S., with a per-megabyte import tariff under the ITU’s “telecommunications” “sending party pays” model to create explicit, large, and highly-lucrative digital trade  surpluses at America’s and Silicon Valley’s expense – all while being able to say they are only doing what the U.S. is doing – looking out for their own nation’s economic interests.

This issue moved front and center this week after President Obama publicly accused the European Union of technology protectionism for pursuing a European Digital Single Market.

President Obama told Re/Code: “We have owned the internet. Our companies have created it, expanded it, perfected it in ways that they can’t compete. And oftentimes what is portrayed as high-minded positions on issues sometimes is just designed to carve out some of their commercial interests.

In sum, as the old adage says, those in glass houses should not throw stones.

America’s Title II Internet utility regulation to protect America’s domestic economic interests, will beget other countries imposing their own nationalistic Internet utility regulation to protect their own national interests.

Tellingly, the UK House of Lords is now recommending just that, i.e. that the UK regulate the UK Internet as a national utility.

Apparently the FCC doesn’t appreciate another relevant old adage here: look before you leap.

Categories: On the Blog

Innovation and a Carbon Tax: Unexpected Views from the Right and Left

Out of the Storm News - February 23, 2015, 3:11 PM
This event has passed 09/16/2014 @ 6:30 am - 8:00 pm

Australia has just repealed one, South Africa is just getting one going, and British Columbia has a popular one that nobody seems to know about.  In the United States, it is generating ever more divisiveness — or is it?

Discover the unexpected areas where the right and the left agree and disagree on a carbon tax.  Learn their thoughts on innovation and energy policy through a thought-provoking panel co-organized by the R Street Institute and Future 500.

Moderated by David Baker, Energy & Clean Tech reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, the panel will feature:

  • Andrew Moylan, R Street Institute
  • Jeremy Carl, Hoover Institution
  • Ted Nordhaus, Breakthrough Institute
  • Bill Shireman, Future 500

The event is free to public, although we kindly ask that you RSVP through this page.Catered fare and alcoholic refreshments will be provided.

For more information, please contact Brendon Steele at bsteele@future500.org.

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  • The California Model: What We Can Learn from the Golden State’s Approach to Ridesharing

    Out of the Storm News - February 23, 2015, 3:09 PM
    This event has passed 11/10/2014 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm

    Join the R Street Institute and Engine for a candid discussion about ridesharing legislation featuring key stakeholders and policy analysts. The panel will coincide with the release of a new joint paper scoring the top 50 cities in America for transportation friendliness, looking at what worked, what didn’t, and what jurisdictions still considering how to deal with ridesharing can learn from California’s approach.

    Featuring:
    Ian Adams, California Director – R Street Institute
    Andrew Moylan, Executive Director and Senior Fellow – R Street Institute
    Evan Engstrom, Policy Director – Engine
    Michael Gunning, Vice President – Personal Insurance Federation of California
    David Mack, Director of Public Affairs – Lyft
    Luis Quinonez, Chief of Staff – California Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla

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