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OpenMarket: March 2020

  • This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

    March 23, 2020
    Governments are responding to the coronavirus with a getting rid of harmful regulations on restaurants, schools, and stores. Most of these rules were never needed in the first place, and a growing list of such rules is available on Twitter’s #NeverNeeded hashtag. Meanwhile, agencies issued new final regulations ranging from vegetable oil emissions to how to treat astronauts.
  • Don’t Save Restaurants by Shafting Consumers

    March 20, 2020
    Restaurants are among the hardest—if not the hardest—hit of industries impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Like other industries, restaurants are lobbying Congress and state legislatures for assistance. The proposals of the National Restaurant Association have some healthy policy morsels that will benefit all, but some other items that will give restaurant consumers severe indigestion.
  • Will Coronavirus Fuel or Derail Climate Agenda?

    March 20, 2020
    Fear and angst are contagious. With the coronavirus still spreading and the U.S. and global economies in danger of freefall, people may become more receptive to gloom and doom messages in general.
  • Federal Court Decision Underscores Need for NEPA Reform

    March 20, 2020
    The comment period has closed for the Council on Environmental Quality’s proposed updates to the implementing rules for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Many projects, especially those related to fossil fuel production and transport, continue to be delayed or blocked by NEPA and serve as reminders why reforms are needed.
  • Energy Special Interests Demand Handouts in Massive Coronavirus Stimulus Bill

    March 20, 2020
    Energy special interests began swarming the Capitol, as Congress passed a second emergency spending bill addressing the coronavirus pandemic and began to put together a $1 trillion or larger stimulus bill to try to counteract the resulting economic downturn. They all want the same thing—handouts for their particular industry.
  • Transportation Infrastructure Stimulus Is No Cure for Coronavirus Economic Slump

    March 20, 2020
    As we enter a new era of slapdash bailouts driven by a dangerous mix of panic, ignorance, and opportunism, we face a growing list of bad policy ideas. One particularly bad idea is attempting to address immediate cash flow and near-term solvency issues through costly and slow transportation infrastructure spending.
  • A Billion Here, a Billion There …

    March 19, 2020
    Amidst all these temporary war powers, rules, regulations, commands, restrictions, bailouts, and stimulus packages, it is wise to remember the words of Milton Friedman: “Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.” I remember when a $1 billion was a lot of money. Now people are tossing billions around like it was chump change.
  • Post-Corona Politics: Opportunities and Threats

    March 19, 2020

    There is a lot of attention being paid to the latest emergency legislation being proposed to address the coronavirus pandemic, from $1,000 checks for every American to paid leave for U.S. workers to a bailout for the airline industry. While those proposals are debated and implemented, however, we have the opportunity to think about what lessons the current crisis can teach us about longer term changes. Political observers often facetiously use the phrase “never let a crisis go to waste” to refer to a cynical attempt to hijack an emergency with unrelated priorities, but if the dislocations caused by our current...

  • Getting Rid of #NeverNeeded Regulations Hindering Coronavirus Response

    March 18, 2020
    What can Washington do to minimize harm from the coronavirus? Some of the best policy responses are coming not from imposing new regulations, but from loosening old ones. In fact, many such rules were never needed in the first place. To that end, a Twitter hashtag, #NeverNeeded, is collecting a small but growing list of ideas for rules to get rid of, as well as rules that already have been eased.
  • Toilet Paper Economics: Emergency Capitalism Still Better Than Normal Socialism

    March 17, 2020

    There are quite a few hot takes circulating at the moment about how grocery stores temporarily running out of toilet paper amid the current coronavirus pandemic is a stinging indictment of a capitalist economy. Most of those takes are not serious enough to be worth refuting, but apparently it bears repeating that consumer choice in a free society during difficult times is still better than the options that are available under normal conditions in a socialist society.

    I blogged a while back about how most Americans who tell pollsters that they approve of “socialism” aren’t talking about the life they would experience under an actual socialist regime. When they say they like socialism they mean...

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