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OpenMarket: Property Rights

  • 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...
  • Is the FTC Already Capable of Regulating Patent Demand Letters?

    November 15, 2013
    The answer is no, except under special circumstances. The question itself arises from comments by Julie P. Samuels of the Electronic Frontier Foundation at last week’s panel held by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation over demand letters from patent assertion entities (PAEs), commonly known as patent trolls. Samuels proposed new legislation to expand the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Section 5 authority, which allows the FTC to regulate “unfair or deceptive acts” by businesses...
  • Antitrust as Corporate Welfare: Imposed Concessions and Conditions on Mergers Are a Fundamental Error

    November 13, 2013
    antitrustAs is now commonplace, American Airlines needed to relent to conditions imposed on the merger with US Airways to secure Department of Justice approval, primarily relinquishing airport slots. Rivals like JetBlue are happy about that. I would be too; can I have slot space? Regulators should refrain from their habit of using the merger review process to extract a parade of concessions in virtually every business combination. That is not a free market, it is not capitalism. Antitrust policy should allow aggressive competitive responses to every combination. Investors, consumers, already-poised rivals, newly energized rivals, advertisers, entrants, and the possibility of less-than-cordial takeover prospects collectively...
  • Enflaming, Not Enlightening: George Monbiot on Investment Treaties

    November 7, 2013
    George Monbiot in The Guardian, in his usual hyperbolic and specious way, describes the proposed U.S.-EU trade agreement’s purpose as to attack national sovereignty through a secret plot by big businesses and corporate lawyers to sue governments and overturn nations’ laws. Monbiot starts his diatribe by asking a set of rhetorical questions. A bit irritating, but maybe that’s his way of getting readers involved. Then comes his first substantive sentence: “The purpose of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is to remove the regulatory differences between the U.S. and European nations.” That is a misstatement. TTIP’s purpose is to promote freer trade between two of the largest...
  • More Bipartisan Opposition to Obama Administration's Move to Block Airline Merger (Including Rahm Emanuel)

    October 23, 2013
    Another day, another round of public bipartisan opposition to the Obama Department of Justice's lawsuit to block the pending American Airlines and US Airways merger. In today's edition, a coalition of big city mayors wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder expressing their collective concern that blocking the merger will harm their cities' economic growth and airline industry employees. The letter concludes:
    By attempting to block the proposed combination, the Department has needlessly added to the uncertainty that these employees and their families must endure and has put jobs at risk. Our cities rely on the airline industry to support existing businesses, attract new businesses and to keep our local economies moving...
  • Judge Rules Federal Government Cannot Close County Park in Shutdown

    October 15, 2013
    Earlier, I wrote about the federal government's use of the federal government shutdown as an excuse to close many private businesses. Those were businesses that lease federal land, operate on it, or are surrounded by it. They were shut down by the government even though such businesses were not closed in previous government shutdowns (and even though many federal civilian employees are still...
  • More Myths About the Government Shutdown

    October 10, 2013
    Young people often don't realize that government shutdowns used to be common, until the middle of the Clinton administration. The George W. Bush presidency was an exception to the rule. The Miami Herald's Glenn Garvin debunks some of the myths promoted by "the chattering classes" (such as left-leaning Washington Post and New York Times columnists) to people too young to remember earlier shutdowns, and people with bad memories.
    • This kind of thing never used to happen. Actually, it used to happen all the time. What’s unusual is the quiet stretch since the last shutdown, when Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton were facing off in 1995. Before that, there were 18 shutdowns in 19 years as various Congresses and presidents squabbled over...
  • Some Genuine Vindictiveness in Park Closings

    October 4, 2013
    The Washington Times story on the attempted forced shut down of the Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina may provide some insight into the attitudes of the National Park Service in shutting down private concessionaires on federal lands that still have open access for the public. NPS chief spokesman said: "NPS [is]a single entity....We do not believe it is appropriate or feasible to have some parts of the system open while other parts are closed to the public." If other words, if we suffer, you suffer. Appears to be some genuine vindictiveness there. Perhaps NPS is worried that if the public sees how well the private concessionaires are running campgrounds, picnic areas, hotels, stores, bookshops and properties such as the Claude Moore Colonial Farm in McLean, Va., which was closed even though it takes no federal money and has no federal employees -- they...


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