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OpenMarket: February 2020

  • "Scientocracy" Highlights Problematic Incentives in Government Research

    February 25, 2020
    Yesterday CEI put on an excellent event on science policy on Capitol Hill on the new book Scientocracy: The Tangled Web of Public Science and Public Policy. The quick take is that government-funded and government-endorsed science is subject to at least as many problematic and confounding issues as any research funded by a profit-seeking corporation. The argument is not that science isn’t important enough for the government to become involved, it’s that it is too important to let the perverse incentives of political control hold it back.
  • Chairman Crapo Offers Hope for Safe Banking in Controversial Industries

    February 25, 2020
    Last October, the House passed the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act to provide safe harbor for banks and credit unions doing business with legal cannabis businesses. Following its passage, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo issued a recommendation to merge language from the Financial Institution Consumer Protection Act—a proposed measure that would prevent regulators from ordering depository institutions to terminate the accounts of legal businesses they disapprove of—into the SAFE Banking Act. This would resolve a threat posed to businesses seen as “high risk” by agency bureaucrats.
  • This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

    February 24, 2020
    During the four-day week, Lawrence Tesler passed away. The underappreciated inventor created the cut, copy, and paste functions on computers. The Hair Club for Men also lost a client. Meanwhile, agencies issued new final regulations ranging from “biological products” to land erosion taxes.
  • New Analysis on Tax and Regulatory Issues for Carsharing Companies

    February 21, 2020
    Our friend and Tech Policy Podcast host Ash Kazaryan recently recorded a fascinating interview with Reason Foundation Policy Analyst Spence Purnell on how Florida (and some other states) are regulating platform economy firms, in particular carsharing services like Turo.
  • Sustainability Disclosures, Meant to Protect, Could Create Additional Risk for Investors

    February 21, 2020
    The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) claims that it focuses on issues that are “financially material” to the companies they are assessing. But materiality is in the eye of the beholder. Critics of the SASB would say that very few, if any, investors actually care about many of the detailed sustainability topics that companies are supposed to provide disclosures on. Instead, many of the topics line up better with the agendas of left-wing advocacy groups who are hostile to market economies in general.
  • U.S. Department of Transportation Proposes Modernizing its Aviation Consumer Protection Authority

    February 21, 2020
    Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao announced a new proposed rule that would “align its definitions of unfairness and deception with the principles set forth by the Federal Trade Commission,” which “is intended to provide regulated entities and other interested parties greater clarity and certainty about the Department’s interpretation of unfair or deceptive practices in the context of aviation consumer protection rulemaking and enforcement actions.” This is great news for consumers and their aviation service providers.
  • Report Misconstrues SAFE Rule 'Rollbacks'

    February 20, 2020
    A recent Rhodium Group report purports to show by the numbers that the fuel economy “rollbacks” effected by the Trump administration’s forthcoming Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient (SAFE) Vehicle rule are “significant” both in terms of “greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions abatement and costs to drivers.” In fact, the numbers reveal the insignificance of the SAFE rule’s GHG impacts. Furthermore, the report’s analysis of consumer costs is one-sided and, thus, potentially misleading.
  • Exploring History of Black Entrepreneurs

    February 20, 2020
    Madam C.J. Walker founded and built a company specializing in hair care products that eventually made her a millionaire and international celebrity. Her army of mostly female sales representatives covered the United States and Caribbean and Latin American territories decades before Mary Kay distributors started driving their pink Cadillacs on American highways.
  • Amazon Documentary Shows How Consumers Benefit

    February 19, 2020
    PBS’s Frontline aired its documentary, “Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos,” last night. While the tone of the piece was markedly suspicious, it didn’t offer up any new information to indicate antitrust concerns against the online retailer have any merit.
  • So-Called Conservative Tech Proposal Is an Affront to the First Amendment

    February 18, 2020
    Several conservative groups have signaled their support for what some are calling a “small-government solution” to perceived anti-conservative bias by tech platforms. The solution that seems to be gaining traction is to tie Section 230 intermediary liability protection to a “First Amendment standard.” Essentially, so long as companies do not remove any content that is otherwise protected by the First Amendment they will continue to be protected from liability over third-party content. There are a number of glaring problems with this idea, not the least of which is the fact that it is antithetical to the First Amendment.

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