April 24, 2017 by Logan Albright
It’s that time again, boys and girls! Funding for the federal government is going to run out at the end of the week, and Congress has to scramble to avoid a government shutdown. This sort of high-pressure situation is necessary to get the two sides of the aisle to cooperate, both knowing that they have to work together to govern, or else face certain catastrophe. At least, that’s what they tell us.
In reality, the ominous phrase “government shutdown” is a charade. It’s a rhetorical and propagandistic trick to make the American people think they have to surrender what they care about for the greater good. …
April 22, 2017 by Logan Albright
What’s going on with the Ex-Im Bank? The business community is just as confused as the rest of us, as the White House is sending some very mixed signals.
First of all, let’s remind ourselves what the bank is and what it does. The United States Export-Import Bank was created by Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the Great Depression as part of his New Deal, an effort to stimulate the economy and grow American jobs. Like most New Deal programs, it was staggeringly wrongheaded and more about cronyism between business and government than about actually helping the economy.
The bank offers loans and loan guarantees to businesses, ostensibly to stimulate exports. …
April 14, 2017 by Logan Albright
As FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai prepares to roll back the regulations that treat the internet like a public utility, including net neutrality provisions, many tech companies are protesting and claiming that Pai is compromising a free and open internet.
Let’s get one thing clear right off the bat: we all want a free and open internet. There is no serious argument on either side of the aisle for the internet to be closed off, censored, or otherwise made less free. Anyone who says otherwise is being disingenuous in an effort to score political points. Where the disagreement lies is in how to achieve this common goal. …
April 13, 2017 by Logan Albright
We’re trained to think about medicine in a certain way. Pharmaceutical companies exist to help patients and ease suffering, and the health care workers who administer these drugs are benevolent healers who always make the best interest of the patient their primary concern. And there are undoubtedly plenty of cases where this is true, but sometimes, especially when it comes to society’s most vulnerable members, so-called medical treatment becomes nothing more than an excuse to rob individuals of their rights and their freedoms.
The AARP has been highlighting a multi-year investigation into the practices of America’s nursing homes. In an alarming number of cases, elderly residents have been given powerful and dangerous drugs without their consent. …
April 10, 2017 by Logan Albright
A new program the Idaho Department of Education is calling “Advanced Opportunities” is being hailed as a “revolutionary” and “free-market” approach to improve student outcomes. The program works by giving public school students a $1,500 scholarship for every year skipped and graduated early, which can then be used for post-secondary education in the state.
The term “free market” appears to have slowly morphed into code for the insidious meddling of behavioral economics, invariably carried out with the power of government. In fact, there’s nothing market-based about subsidies, wealth redistribution, and a centrally directed incentive structure that treats students as pawns in a master plan rather than as capable, self-actualizing individuals. …
April 4, 2017 by Matt Kibbe
Jeff Sessions thinks medical cannabis is just as dangerous as heroin. I don’t know what he’s smoking, but that’s just nuts.
April 2, 2017 by Logan Albright
There are basically two schools of thought on the purpose of the tax code. One is to raise revenue to fund the essential functions of government, whatever those may be. The other is to use taxes as a carrot and a stick, rewarding behaviors the government finds desirable and punishing those that it doesn’t. America’s founders, the architects of the original tax code, would have found this second function, in which taxes are used for social engineering, unthinkable and against the very nature of the limited-government power structure they proposed. And yet controlling people’s behavior has become an increasingly important function of tax policy, despite its implications for individual freedom and independence. …
March 29, 2017 by Logan Albright
Uber, the popular ridesharing company that has improved the lives of commuters everywhere, has announced that it will cease operations in the country of Denmark due to overregulation of its drivers.
The northern European nation had initially ruled Uber illegal back in 2014, but failing to outright ban the service, lawmakers had to resort to regulation to drive it away. The main rule that proved a sticking point for Uber was the requirement that drivers install visible meters in their cars, in effect, transforming them into taxis.
It’s difficult to see the rationale for such a regulation; ostensibly, it’s to provide transparency to passengers so they know what they are being charged as they ride. …
March 27, 2017 by Logan Albright
As someone who works around a lot of economists in Washington, DC, I am privy to a lot of big talk about the problem of retirement policy. The overwhelming consensus among the learned is that Americans, as a group, aren’t saving enough money for retirement, and that if we can gather sufficiently clever people in a room, we can figure out a way to coerce, trick, or otherwise induce workers to be more responsible with their incomes.
I tend to be the odd man out in these meetings: my contribution is generally the radical proposition that we leave people alone and let them make their own choices. …
March 27, 2017 by Logan Albright
WhatsApp has gained notoriety as one of the most securely encrypted messaging services, allowing conversations to remain private and away from the watchful eyes of hackers, including those employed by the government.
Of course, encryption is a tool that, like any other, can be used for evil as well as good, and following an attack by an ISIS-inspired terrorist in London, government authorities are crying foul, demanding that the developer of WhatsApp modify its system to allow access to law enforcement.
This is essentially the same argument that the U.S. government had with Apple in the wake of the 2015 San Bernardino shootings — when the FBI demanded that the company write software to grant access to its smartphones, and Apple refused. …