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OpenMarket: Property Rights

  • Maya Angelou, Herb Jeffries, and the Freedom to Prosper

    June 4, 2014
    Competitive Enterprise Institute President Lawson Bader has said, "What CEI does, on a daily basis and at its core, is to celebrate and defend free enterprise," and "free enterprise is just another phrase for what I call the ‘freedom to prosper.'" Lawson makes it clear that "prosperity" does not necessarily mean accumulation of possessions, but enrichment of one’s own life and those of others through individual choice. Free enterprise means freedom to pursue various options, and "we who defend economic liberty view these endeavors with a non-judgmental eye, recognizing them as the choices free individuals make to realize their dreams,'" he writes. These thoughts on the freedom to prosper have been on my mind since last week after the passing of two individuals -- one of whom I was privileged to know -- who used what limited freedom...
  • The Premises of Net Neutrality

    May 19, 2014

    In the electric power industry, if you run an extension cord across the street to serve another, you go to jail. The local utility has a protected monopoly. We’ve put most of that "public utility" vision behind us in communications. Wired and wireless and satellite options abound for Internet service; we'll likely see blimps and communications drones, and who knows what else.

    Yet special interests still want the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate the content flows and grid infrastructure, the prices and services of the Internet via something called net neutrality. They actually are quite open about wanting government regulated monopoly power.

    The Internet as a utility, like the power company....

  • FCC's Internet Fast Lanes Should Outrun Net Neutrality Bias

    April 25, 2014
    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will issue proposed rules May 15, rules expected expected to allow premium pricing for Internet fast lanes alongside the lane we have now, for those willing to pay. The open-access tech utopians aren't amused; They see the Internet as some kind of magical public resource, as something that popped fully formed out of nowhere, and need never change. In the modern style, they have demands that others must fulfill, and want to set the terms for others' property deployment. The New York Times wrote,
    Dividing traffic on the Internet into fast and slow lanes is exactly what the Federal Communications Commission would do with its proposed regulations, unveiled this week. And no amount of reassurances about...
  • CEI Sues National Park Service and Interior Department under FOIA over Government Shutdown Documents

    April 23, 2014
    Last night, CEI filed suit against the United States Department of the Interior and the National Park Service for failing to produce documents in response to two pairs of Freedom of Information Act requests. Those requests, sent to them way back on October 9, dealt with these agencies' closures of private businesses and privately-run tourist attractions in the 2013 federal government shutdown, and also with their closures of public monuments and spaces, which are often open to the public even when no federal employee is on duty. The agencies have neither produced documents, nor set an estimated date for when they will be produced, nor indicated how many documents they might...
  • CEI, Former State Department Officials Defend Freedom of Contract in Supreme Court Case against Argentina

    April 17, 2014
    [caption id="attachment_74355" align="alignright" width="300"]Argentina President Cristina Kirchner Argentina President Cristina Kirchner[/caption] Can a country seeking to welsh on its debts invoke sovereign immunity to evade not just court orders to pay those debts, but also post-judgment discovery aimed at collecting on those judgments? Can it do so to prevent not just discovery directed at it, but also at third-party banks? Most importantly, perhaps, can it do so even though it contractually waived sovereign immunity? The answer is yes, according to...
  • CEI Appeals Agency's Withholding of Documents about Its 2013 Government Shutdown Shenanigans

    March 25, 2014
    Earlier, I wrote about how Obama administration officials have been very “tight-lipped in response to FOIA requests" about their “government shutdown shenanigans," such as closing private businesses and non-profit tourist attractions out of spite, and blocking access to...
  • Agencies Withhold Documents about Closures of Private Businesses in Government Shutdown

    March 21, 2014
    In last October's government shutdown, the Obama administration closed down, or blocked access to, many private businesses that had been allowed to operate in earlier shutdowns, such as during the Clinton administration.  After lawyers and legal commentators suggested that these closures of private businesses were illegal, and pointed out that they were an unexplained...
  • Supreme Court Overwhelmingly Votes to Uphold Rights of Private Property Owners

    March 12, 2014
    The Supreme Court has decided an important property rights case in favor of the private property owners and against the claim of the federal government by an eight-to-one majority. Surprisingly, the Court’s liberal Justices, with the exception of Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissenting, signed Chief Justice John Roberts’s March 10 decision. In reversing the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Court ruled, in Brandt Revocable Trust et al. v. United States, that a right of way granted to a railroad in 1908 did not revert to the federal government when the railroad abandoned the tracks in 2004. The original right of way was over federal land, but 83 acres of that land were patented in 1976 in a land swap with the U. S. Forest Service. The Department of Justice argued that even though those 83 acres had...
  • Is FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler for or against Net Neutrality? Yes

    January 11, 2014
    In what the Washington Post referred to as Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler's strongest endorsement yet of net neutrality, he said:
    Public policy should protect the great driving force of the open Internet: how it allows innovation without permission.... This is why it is essential that the FCC continue to maintain an open Internet and maintain the legal ability to intervene promptly and effectively in the event of aggravated circumstances.
    Other outlets regard Wheeler's recent pronouncements as being more ambiguous. Does he favor the right to offer variations in prices and services, or not? I see matters opposite from the proponents of net neutrality; I think variations in pricing and service...
  • Hypocritical New Yorkers Whine about High Housing Prices while Supporting High-Price Policies

    December 2, 2013
    The New York Post today has a story on what it describes as "new hipsters fight[ing] old hipsters in Brooklyn." The gist of it is that a wave of relatively wealthy gentrifiers moved into the neighborhood of Bushwick a decade ago and now a second wave of even wealthier residents is flocking to the hip neighborhood, driving up housing prices. The first wave is not happy with the rising rents associated with the second wave, and is demanding "affordable housing" concessions from developers who dare build middle-upper income rental units. This response is sadly typical. Rising real estate prices are a natural consequence of urban redevelopment. But the real estate market in New York City is anything but natural and a large share of the sky-high housing prices can be attributed to...

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