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OpenMarket: Property Rights

  • 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,...
  • Villaraigosa: Brown's Elimination of Redevelopment Agencies "a Non-Starter"

    January 12, 2011
    Pro-smart-growth, "green" Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is upset with Governor Jerry Brown's remarkably sensible decision to shut down the state's 425 redevelopment agencies, including L.A.'s Community Redevelopment Agency. "Los Angeles is prepared to shoulder its fair share of the responsibility, but any scenario that would completely eliminate the Redevelopment Zones and State Enterprise Zones is a non-starter," said Villaraigosa. Here's to hoping that he's wrong, and that Brown's attack on these destructive money pits is sustained! In terms of promoting harmful and authoritarian land-use regimes, Villaraigosa is one of the worst among American mayors. He hired Gail Goldberg in 2006, a notorious San Diego smart-growther, to head up...
  • Dodd-Frank Financial "Reform" Violates Property Rights and Equal-Protection Guarantees

    January 9, 2011
    Last week, I described how the Dodd-Frank financial "reform" law passed last summer violates constitutional separation-of-powers safeguards by giving unaccountable bureaucrats the power to seize companies and legislate through administrative fiat.  But that is not the only way Dodd-Frank violates the Constitution.  It also violates property rights and equal-protection guarantees. For example, it ...
  • Dodd-Frank Violates Separation of Powers and Constitutional Checks and Balances

    January 7, 2011
    In a recent edition of the Washington Post, former White House counsel C. Boyden Gray noted that the sweeping Dodd-Frank financial “reform” law passed last summer is unconstitutional, since it gives the government virtually unchecked power to seize financial firms that supposedly might fail, and to legislate through regulation.  For example, under Dodd-Frank:
    “The Treasury can petition federal district courts to seize not only banks that enjoy government support but any non-bank financial institution that the government thinks is in danger of default and could, in turn, pose a risk to U.S. financial stability. If the entity resists seizure, the petition proceedings go secret, with a federal district judge given 24 hours to decide...
  • Live Blogging: "Fixing The World Economy: Stresses And Solutions"

    December 16, 2010
    This is a Live Blog of a Thomson Reuters Event on "Fixing the World Economy." The speakers are Dominique Strauss-Kahn, International Monetary Fund and Chrystia Freeland, from Thomson Reuters. 11:50am: We are about 10 minutes before this event begins. I'm going to be very surprised if I hear any arguments for the Federal government and world organizations doing less, not more. 11:56am: Chrystia Freeland is preparing her questions next to me. 12:03pm: Because of the snow, they said they'll start the show at 12:10pm. 12:13pm: The event is starting. 12:19pm: Freeland claims that we are talking with one of the most influential men on the economy. 12:21pm: Strauss-Kahn claims that the package that Ireland approved is going to work. 12:24pm: Statements will be made about Greece tomorrow. 12:26pm: It doesn't appear that Strauss is too sympathetic to taxpayers who don't want to...
  • Interchange Price Controls: Gift to Big Merchants, Lump of Coal for Consumers and Community Financial Institutions

    December 15, 2010
    On Thursday, the Federal Reserve -- at the direction of Congress in the Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank financial "reform" bill -- will give a giant gift to some of the nation's biggest retailers. This present is in the form of of direct and indirect price controls on the interchange fees they pay to financial institutions to process debit cards payments Yet unless Congress acts to delay or repeal the Durbin Amendment, consumers, community banks, and credit unions will be getting a large lump of coal in their stockings by next December as the expenses of running an efficient payment card system are shifted almost entirely onto their shoulders. Consumers have already seen the costs of this rule through the loss of free checking as a result of banks' anticipation of an estimated 60 to 80 percent...
  • Supreme Court will not Hear Columbia University Eminent Domain Case

    December 13, 2010
    It was announced today that the U.S. Supreme Court will not take up a challenge to the Empire State Development Corporation's property takings in Manhattan's West Harlem neighborhood. The notorious ESDC, also responsible for the Atlantic Yards land grab in Brooklyn, wishes to seize property near Columbia University in order to allow the university's planned expansion to move forward. Standing in the way are several small businesses, who object to their properties being included in ESDC's area blight condemnation. New York State, which has one of the worst eminent domain statutes in the nation, has...
  • New Fast Food Restaurants Banned in South Los Angeles

    December 10, 2010
    New fast-food restaurants are now banned in South Los Angeles.  Say goodbye to many entry-level jobs in that poor urban area. The cockamamie idea behind this ban is that since minorities are disproportionately obese, and since they disproportionately patronize fast-food restaurants, such restaurants are thus guilty of  "food apartheid."  (Never mind that many fast-food entrees are not particularly fatty, that baked goods are a bigger source of calories for kids than fast-food items like pizza, and that it is possible to lose weight while regularly eating at McDonald's, as various people have, including...
  • Seattle Land-Use Regulation Liberalization Redux

    December 6, 2010
    Stephen Smith of Market Urbanism responds to my response to his question, asking if I thought Seattle's proposed land-use liberalization bill was a positive development. I admitted that it was, but offered some major caveats with respect to Seattle's land-use regime: namely, that the bill doesn't address Seattle's major land-use problems. Smith is opposed to urban growth boundaries, such as the one in King County, Washington, yet doesn't seem to believe they're all that harmful -- at least when compared to density restrictions. I respectfully disagree, but Smith claims I offer no evidence to support my claim that sprawl restrictions are harmful. I did, however,...


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