July 17, 2015
The Freeman has an excellent article by FEE advisory board member Robert Anthony Peters on economic lessons in popular culture—in this case focusing on the wealthiest of Disney’s characters, Scrooge McDuck. It may seem odd to look for pro-capitalist storylines from a character named after literature’s most famous miser, but Peters explains how the character’s originator, Carl Banks, made Scrooge McDuck an exemplar of the virtues of hard work, honesty, and strategic thinking.
In a series of stories that highlighted economic concepts like subjective value, mutual gains from trade, and entrepreneurship, Banks sent Scrooge and his grand-nephews on a series of adventures in which they manage to...
July 16, 2015
Yesterday, July 15, 2015, CEI filed a petition for writ of mandamus with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Our suit requests the court enforce its July 15, 2011, decision that found the TSA’s deployment of body scanners in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. The 2011 court ordered the TSA to “promptly” open a rulemaking proceeding and produce a final rule. Yesterday was the four-year anniversary of the court order and we still do not have a final rule to evaluate and potentially challenge. In fact, given that TSA has been rolling out body scanners since 2007, they have been violating the APA for eight years.
Other than CEI, petitioners are the National Center for Transgender Equality, The...
July 16, 2015
A few months ago, statistician and risk analyst Nassim Nicholas Taleb, known mostly for his intriguing 2007 book The Black Swan, teamed up with a handful of colleagues to write a “scholarly” diatribe claiming to demonstrate that “what appear to be small and reasonable risks” with GMOs may “accumulate inevitably to certain irreversible harm.” Therefore, the precautionary principle “should be used to prescribe severe limits on GMOs.” The paper received a lot of attention in scientific circles, but was roundly dismissed for being long on overblown rhetoric but conspicuously short on any meaningful reference to the scientific literature describing the risks and safety of genetic engineering, and for containing no understanding of how modern genetic engineering fits within the context of centuries of far more crude genetic...
July 15, 2015
An average of around 70 rules and regulations are issued every week. There were 3,554 in 2015, and have been 1,693 in 2015 as of today.
Rules appear, but rarely are rolled back even though the administration’s “Retrospective Review of Regulations.” E.O. 13563 calls for agencies to:
[P]periodically review its existing significant regulations to determine whether any such regulations should be modified, streamlined, expanded, or repealed so as to make the agency’s regulatory program more effective or less burdensome.
(Gotta love the word “expanded” tossed in there.) Enforcement is unclear and rollbacks amount to a drop in the bucket and. Although prospects are dim, some in Congress is looking again at review and sunsetting of regulations.
Sens. Mark Kirk (R-...
July 15, 2015
American Enterprise Institute president Arthur Brooks has a new book out this week, The Conservative Heart: How to Build a Fairer, Happier, and More Prosperous America. In the past, Brooks has expressed concern that a large portion of the American public doesn’t believe that conservatives (and libertarians) have much of a heart—that they don’t care much about the problems of the poor and disadvantaged. He has made countering this impression a major part of AEI’s mission, sponsoring events like AEI’s “Vision Talks,” in particular this one from last June, titled “A Conservative Vision for Social Justice,” which featured Brooks himself as well as former New York City social services guru ...
July 15, 2015
Two weeks ago, the Export-Import Bank’s authorization lapsed. The agency remains open, but is not allowed to consider new loans or other projects. It may only maintain its existing portfolio, which will wind down over a period of several years.
In an op-ed over at Inside Sources, I take a look at what’s next for Ex-Im:
Rarely does a federal agency shut its doors — the Civil Aeronautics Board closed in 1985, and the Interstate Commerce Commission followed suit in 1995, but that’s about it. Twenty years later, will Ex-Im add its name to this short list? What will happen then? Should the agency be revived?
The short answers are that nobody knows if it will actually close, not much will happen in the short run either way, and the...
July 14, 2015
Once upon a time critics of corporate America complained that executive salaries were too high, and too often disconnected from the performance of the firm. Senior managers are making millions while the company loses money—where’s the logic in that? So today many firms, including large banks and other financial services companies, have performance-based compensation packages—at least some of the money executives make is tied to the firm’s annual profits. Now incentives are aligned smartly, right?
A potential complication creeps in, however, when a firm needs to restate its earnings. If a major deal goes south and restated earnings are lower than they were initially reported, perhaps we should restate an executive’s compensation as well, the thinking goes. This is the idea behind a provision of the...
July 13, 2015
The Competitive Enterprise Institute's newest film project, I, Whiskey: The Spirit of the Market, is currently in production, and you can help make it a success. We’re supporting the project with a crowd-funding campaign at Indiegogo, the largest global fundraising site, just launched today.
I, Whiskey is our next installment in the I, Pencil Film Series. It will be a story about the power of human ingenuity, the market, and how these forces work together to give us the many wonderful innovations and products that enrich our lives every day.
July 13, 2015
The happy warriors of CEI have returned from our sojourn to Las Vegas and the excitement of FreedomFest 2015: Discover the New American Dream. The conference featured everyone from Steve Forbes and John Stossel to CEOs John Mackey and Peter Thiel to Dinesh D’Souza and Glenn Beck. The sessions were a mix of libertarian activism, conservative analysis, and new opportunities to invest in precious metals.
The best sessions, of course, featured CEI president Lawson Bader. On Friday morning the room was packed for “Gavel Out! Legal Opportunities to Push Back Regulatory Overreach,” in which Lawson gave an overview of the threat of the growing regulatory state and its costs and then described the many...
July 13, 2015
The newest batch of federal regulations cover everything from municipal fireworks shows to Venezuelan sanctions. On Monday, the Federal Register will likely pass the 40,000-page mark.
On to the data:
- Last week, 56 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 91 the previous week.
- That’s the equivalent of a new regulation precisely every three hours.
- So far in 2015, 1,658 final regulations have been published in the Federal Register. At that pace, there will be a total of 3,140 new regulations this year, which would be several hundred fewer rules than the usual total of 3,500-plus.
- Last week, 1,647 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,478 pages the previous week.
- Currently at 39,905 pages, the 2015 Federal Register is on pace for 75,578...