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OpenMarket: Property Rights

  • U.S. Property Rights Protections Continue to Decline

    March 22, 2011
    This morning, I attended the Property Rights Alliance's launch presentation of the 2011 International Property Rights Index. Overall, the United States declined to 18th place in the world (from 16th in 2010 and 14th in 2007, when the Index was originally created), losing out to top-ranked Finland. The biggest contributor to the U.S.'s reduced standing was in the Physical Property Rights category (real property), which accounted for nearly half of the year-over-year decline in points. The variables for this category are protection of physical property rights, property registration, and access to loans. It is here where one might be surprised by some of the countries who rank ahead of the U.S. (ranked...
  • Federal Government and State Attorneys General Push Arbitrary Mortgage Bailout

    March 16, 2011
    Back before the election, intellectuals with ties to the Obama administration proposed a trillion-dollar bailout for some (but not all) underwater mortgage borrowers, as a way to increase consumer spending. Last week, The Washington Post reported that bureaucrats at the newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) want to do something similar on a smaller scale. Their proposal would require banks to write off part of the mortgages of certain (but not all) mortgage...
  • Bidding Bon Voyage to Nationalized Wind Insurance

    March 14, 2011
    According to several Gulf Coast legislators, the idea of adding wind insurance to the National Flood Insurance Program is not going to happen anytime soon. The “Taylor bill,” named for the Rep. Gene Taylor of Mississippi, failed to pick up support despite several attempts by Taylor -- a result that made all free-market supporters and anyone not wishing to pay for beach homes in Florida breathe a sigh of relief. Recently, in an interview with the Mobile Press-Register, Mississippi Republican Rep. Steven Palazzo, who defeated Taylor in the 2011 midterm elections, confirmed...
  • Texas Needs Real Eminent Domain Reform, Not More Empty Rhetoric

    March 3, 2011
    Last month, I briefly discussed the bogus eminent domain "reform" legislation that unanimously passed the Texas Senate. Over at RedState, Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) Vice President for Research Bill Peacock -- who also directs TPPF's Center for Economic Freedom -- has a post on the problems with the bill, SB 18, and what can be done to improve it and actually enhance property rights protections for all Texans:
    While it offers improvement over the status quo, the problem with SB 18 is that it has been highly negotiated  by special interests over the last three legislative sessions, resulting in an “agreed upon” bill that people are reluctant to change less someone...
  • Egyptian Military Seeks to Reverse Economic Reforms

    February 21, 2011
    The military government that replaced Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak is now moving to reverse recent reforms that gave Egypt solid economic growth in the last several years. It wants to curb free-market competition with military-run enterprises that dominate parts of Egypt's economy. As The New York Times reported on Friday, economists say the military "has already begun taking steps to protect the privileges of its gated economy, discouraging changes that some argue are crucial if Egypt is to emerge as a more stable, prosperous country."
    Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the minister of defense and military production who now leads the council of...
  • Michigan May Fire Salvo Against Regressive Debit Card Price Controls

    February 14, 2011
    In the battle against Obamacare, the shots heard 'round the world were resolutions against the law by state legislatures. These resolutions led to court cases that have been victorious in two instances, and a new majority in the U.S. House Representatives that voted to repeal the law. Now, the state of Michigan is poised to pass the first resolution against another command-and-control scheme, and there is bipartisan support for such a resolution. The target is the Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul that Congress passed last year. That measure sets price controls for the interchange fees that retailers pay issuing banks and credit unions to process debit card transactions. The Federal Reserve's proposed rule implementing the provision explicitly sets prices at well below cost, excluding...
  • CEI Podcast for February 10, 2011: How Not to Stop Eminent Domain Abuse

    February 10, 2011
    Land Use and Transportation Policy Analyst Marc Scribner takes a close look at an eminent domain reform bill just passed by the Texas State Senate.
  • Texas Senate Passes Bogus Eminent Domain Reform Bill

    February 9, 2011
    Here's some more bad news for those of us seeking real eminent domain reform, rather than style-over-substance feel-good legislation. Here's the Dallas Morning News uncritically reporting on the eminent domain "reform" bill's passage by the Texas Senate:
    Legislation aimed at strengthening the rights of property owners in eminent domain cases in Texas won unanimous approval in the Senate on Wednesday. The measure, which goes to the House, passed the Senate in similar form two years ago, but fell victim to an impasse in the House that killed scores of bills in the final days of the last legislative session. Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, author of the proposal, said his aim is to "restore balance" in the eminent domain process where a government...
  • Congress Considering "Kill Switch" for Capitalism

    January 25, 2011
    Introduced last summer, a bill affording President Obama executive power over private Internet companies in the event of a "national cyberemergency" is returning this year, albeit with a few tweaks. The CBS News article, "Renewed Push to Give Obama an Internet 'Kill Switch,'" insists that the bill should not cause Internet companies any alarm, citing government promises to limit the bill's use to "crucial components of national infrastructure." We must question, then, why it is the case that these promises aren't built into the bill.
    The revised version includes new language saying that the federal government's designation of vital Internet or other computer systems "shall not be subject to judicial review." Another addition expanded the definition of critical infrastructure to include "provider of...
  • US Loses Ground in 2011 Index of Economic Freedom

    January 12, 2011
    The U.S. dropped from 8 to 9 on the just-released "Index of Economic Freedom" put out by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal. That's a bit of a downer, considering we used to be #4, back in 1995. The Index ranks nations on 10 measures of openness, rule of law, and competitiveness. Tellingly, all regions except Europe and North America achieved increased levels of economic freedom. In fact, the U.S. didn't even earn a grade of "free" - which would've been a score of 80 or higher. If this were running or swimming, I think this is kind of like coming in maybe third place in the second-fastest heat. Woo. Why is this important? As the Index authors explain, "economic freedom is key to overall well-being." That means tangible benefits of living in a freer society, such as higher per capita incomes, better health, education,...


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