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OpenMarket: March 2017

  • FTC Launches Economic Liberty Task Force to Fight Overregulation

    March 31, 2017

    Federal agencies have a well-deserved reputation for issuing regulations, publishing guidance documents, and bringing enforcement actions against American businesses. But when the stars align, agencies sometimes eliminate old regulations and modernize their guidance documents.

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is pursuing another deregulatory approach: advocating for economic liberty at the state and local levels. The agency’s new Economic Liberty Task Force, recently announced by FTC Acting Chair Maureen Ohlhausen, is intended to tackle “regulatory hurdles to job growth.”

    The FTC has its work cut out.

    For starters, this task force will focus on occupational licensing rules, which have made it increasingly difficult for people to find jobs...

  • The Great Greenhouse Rollback Begins

    March 31, 2017

    On Tuesday, March 28, President Trump signed his Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth. The E.O. directs agencies to suspend, revise, or rescind numerous Obama administration energy and climate initiatives. Below is a quick tour of the E.O. (with some hyperlinks to primary documents and commentary for readers who want to explore some of the issues covered).

    Section 1 of the E.O. lays out a policy vision very different from Obama’s. Government overreach must stop because energy development and affordable electricity are in the national interest. The first three paragraphs are suitable for framing:

    Section 1. Policy. (a)  It is in the national interest to promote clean and...

  • Seattle Forced Union Dues Scheme Faces Legal Challenge

    March 30, 2017

    In 2015, the City of Seattle enacted a misguided ordinance that allows Uber and Lyft drivers, who operate as independent contractors, the privilege to collectively bargain. This March, the city selected the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 117 as ride-share drivers’ exclusive representative.

    Two legal challenges have been levied against the first of its kind legislation that permits independent contractors to unionize. Today, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington will hear arguments in the case filed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce against the City of Seattle, in which the trade association is asking for a preliminary injunction to halt implementation of the ordinance.

    The Chamber’s court filing cites several deficiencies with the...

  • Lessons from a Humble Pencil about Economics and the World

    March 30, 2017

    “I, Pencil, simple though I appear to be, merit your wonder and awe... not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me.”

    On National Pencil Day, we salute this marvel of capitalism and Leonard Read’s classic story about an everyday object. Beloved, yet often taken for granted, I, Pencil poignantly details the layers of knowledge, resources, and collaboration required to make anything—however simple or complex. Even more so, the pencil illustrates how seamlessly individuals, operating in their own self-interest, cooperate to create the modern world.

    In November 2012, CEI brought Read’s brilliant essay to life with the animated short I, Pencil: The Movie. FEE President...

  • Top Three Silliest Reactions to Trump’s Climate Executive Order

    March 29, 2017

    #3 Silliest Reaction: Red Scare!

    According to Nathan Richardson at Resources for the Future, the big problem with Trump’s Executive Order is what it signals to the world. He writes:

    Moreover, symbols matter. Whether or not the United States formally withdraws from the Paris Agreement, President Trump has today signaled that he does not intend to fulfill US commitments under it. If global efforts on climate do not collapse, it will be because other nations—most likely China—have taken leadership. The effects of such a shift will not be limited to the annual UN climate meetings. On any issue where international cooperation is needed, from trade to arms control, Chinese soft power and credibility will increase, and the United...

  • Raiders' Vegas Move Signals NFL Warming to Legal Sports Gambling

    March 29, 2017

    Next to the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), there has been no greater opponent to legalizing sports gambling in the U.S. than the National Football League (NFL). But this week’s league vote approving the Oakland Raiders’ move to Las Vegas—the only place in the nation where single-game sports gambling is legal—may signal a softening of the league’s views.

    For the last 25 years, the existence of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) has blocked states from legalizing, regulating, and taxing sports gambling. This law, however, grandfathered in state laws that already legalized the activity, leaving only Nevada with the ability to offer bets on individual games. Many other states have expressed an interest in regulating and taxing the money being spent in the existing illegal market, which experts estimate at somewhere between $140...

  • Columnist Misrepresents Civil Service Reforms

    March 29, 2017

    In a recent column, The Washington Post’s Joe Davidson presents a gravely distorted view of Republican civil service reform efforts, which seek to save taxpayer money and attempt to clean up the mismanagement at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Davidson describes these legislative fixes as undercutting “worker due process rights” and “weaken labor organizations.”

    Provoking Davidson’s ire is the Official Time Accountability Act of 2017 (H.R. 1364), introduced by Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), to prohibit federal employees from conducting political activity on union official time, the practice of paying federal employees to perform union business instead of federal work. In...

  • Transportation Safety Best Ensured by Performance Goals, Not Micromanaging

    March 29, 2017

    Transportation safety is a top priority in America, whether it’s passenger travel by air, rail, or vehicle or moving commercial freight where it needs to go. The best way regulators in Washington can help ensure safety is to set safety goals and make sure businesses and industries achieve those goals. Unfortunately, regulators too often try to micromanage the process. This perversely prevents innovation and technology gains that can improve safety and provide it at a lower cost.

    Today, the Competitive Enterprise Institute released my policy brief, “Toward Performance-Based Transportation Safety Regulation: Focus on Results Instead of Rigid Rules to Improve Safety and Promote Innovation.” The paper discusses the safety regulatory environment of five transportation modes regulated by...

  • United Kingdom Invokes Article 50 to Leave the European Union

    March 28, 2017

    In a historic moment, British Prime Minister Theresa May today invoked Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, which formally starts the process of Britain leaving the bloc. Her Majesty’s Government has announced plans to fold all of...
  • Regulations - How Much Do They Cost You?

    March 28, 2017

    From the labels on our food to the shoes on our feet, regulations are a part of our everyday lives. And there are a lot of them.

    Did you know, for every law Congress passed last year, federal agencies issued 18 rules and regulations? That’s nearly 3,900 new federal regulations in 2016 alone!

    We hear a lot about how regulations are supposed to benefit us, but what about how much they cost?

    CEI President Kent Lassman said,  “while regulations are intended to benefit...


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