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OpenMarket: Property Rights

  • Border Security Doesn't Require "Invading" the Border

    June 26, 2013
    When President Bush left office in January 2009, there were about 30,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. If the Senate immigration bill (S. 744) passes, this military-style mobilization will come to the U.S.-Mexico border -- and then some. Under the Hoeven-Corker border security amendment, approved Monday, the bill would now pour in at least 38,405 Border Patrol personnel along America’s Southern border -- more than double the original amount. At the same time, it would increase total border security funding more than five-fold -- from $8.3 billion to $46.3 billion. These funds will go to finish a 700-mile border fence and add hundreds of new surveillance...
  • How to Have Enough Water for Everybody

    May 28, 2013
    Last week I testified in the Water and Power Subcommittee in the House of Representatives (hearing linked here). The concern was water availability and federal funding for for research and development in desalinating (de-salting) seawater and brackish water for human consumption or use in irrigation or industry. I argued against the funding and pointed out that water shortages are almost always rooted in poor pricing for water. Without market pricing, scarcities and havoc will rule. I call for the separation of water and state. My long-form...
  • Obama: A Sweet Pension for Himself, But Not For America's Savers or Investors

    May 6, 2013
    In The Washington Post, Allan Sloan points out that while President Obama wants to cap American citizens' IRAs at $3 million or substantially less—discouraging saving and investment in the process—Obama's own-taxpayer-subsidized retirement benefits are worth more than twice as much, a generous $6.6 million. A sweet pension for me, but not for thee, seems to be Obama's thinking.  Discussing the president's "proposal to limit the value of 401(k)s,...
  • Virginia's Uranium Mining Moratorium Should Be Buried, But What About Property Rights?

    January 16, 2013
    The earth below the United States contains 5 percent of the world's known recoverable uranium deposits. More than a quarter of U.S. uranium is found in southern Virginia at Coles Hill near Chatham in Pittsylvania County. The two uranium deposits at Coles Hill are valued at $7 billion and together constitute the seventh largest deposit in the world. Yet all of it is still in the ground. Over 30 years ago, Virginia placed a moratorium on uranium mining in the state. This prohibition was to be lifted once the state went through the arduous process of drafting uranium mining regulations. Unfortunately, Virginia never got around to writing the rules and the "temporary" ban is still in place. The property owners at Coles Hill and some outside investors formed a company in order to...
  • The Constitution And Broad First Amendment Freedoms Are Obsolete, Say Left-Leaning Judges And Constitutional Law Professors

    January 4, 2013
    The progressive Georgetown University constitutional law professor Louis Michael Seidman argued Monday in The New York Times that we should just ignore the Constitution and its limits, since it led to the "fiscal cliff" (a combination of painful tax increases and long-overdue spending cuts that would have cut the federal budget deficit in half). “As the nation teeters at the edge of fiscal chaos, observers are reaching the conclusion that the American system of government is broken. But almost no one blames the culprit: our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its...
  • Settlement: FTC Ends Google Antitrust Investigation

    January 3, 2013
    Today, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) cleared Google of accusations of "Search Bias," and inappropriately harming rivals. The investigation lasted nearly two years. CEI released a statement today, "Web Users Dodge Bullet as FTC Closes Google Probe." Google rivals naturally object, but those protests are revolts against the objective reality that people like Google. The FTC did secure certain concessions from Google, which will alter how it presents bits of information, such as that from review sites such as Yelp (a criticized practice it was already modifying in some areas); and Google will make it easier for firms to advertise across other...
  • Myths About Thanksgiving

    November 26, 2012
    The first Thanksgiving didn't usher in a time of plenty for the Pilgrims. The Pilgrims continued to confront the specter of starvation until they ditched their collective farming practices in favor of individual property rights, which finally brought them prosperity by increasing incentives to produce and manage farms wisely. Property rights were also a feature of many Native American cultures, contrary to later claims that Native Americans had no concept of property rights (claims first invented by those who dispossessed them, and later repeated by radical environmentalists who sought to depict property rights as an institution peculiar to white settlers). I debunk some of these myths at this link.
  • Italy Shoots The Messenger... And Its Legal System In The Foot

    November 12, 2012
    Italy’s legal system, already deeply unfriendly to business, has sunk to a new low this week. In the town of Trani, prosecutors requested to charge five Standard & Poor’s officials with “aggravated and continuous market abuse” because they announced the reasons for S&P’s downgrade on Italian sovereign debt three days after the announcement of the downgrade itself in May 2011. Prosecutors claim this delay created unnecessary market volatility and investor flight. But it seems more like a case of shooting the messenger. It’s no secret European governments revile the credit raters for communicating to markets Europe has been living beyond its means for quite some time. Look no further than the bombastic rhetoric against the credit raters and the European...
  • Italy's Greatest Economic Threat: Italian Politicians

    October 29, 2012
    Italian ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told news sources last week that his party -- Popolo della Libertà -- would soon decide whether or not to revoke support for the current technocrat government headed by Prime Minister Mario Monti. Berlusconi’s threat against the Monti government represents why implementation of his polices won’t induce Italian recovery and why financial markets forced him out of office in the first place. His condemnation of Monti’s policies is also indicative of the broader reform-cowardice problem within the entire Italian political establishment. [caption id="" align="alignright" width="329"] Silvio's...
  • Don't Blame Capitalism for Washington State's Liquor Privatization "Failure"

    July 24, 2012
    There is no alternative way, so far discovered, of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free enterprise system ~Milton Friedman Proponents of privatizing Washington State’s liquor sales said that such a change would benefit consumers, businesses, and the state coffers. Ending the state monopoly on liquor, they said, would increase the number of places where alcohol could be purchased and reduce prices as retailers competed for patrons. However, upon looking at what has happened since liquor sales were privatized in the state, some voters are beginning to regret their support of the initiative and doubt the benefits of private enterprise.  Along with the increase in the places Washington State residents can buy liquor, residents saw significant increases in the prices of alcohol. As a...


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