August 22, 2011In an editorial last week Mary Anastasia O'Grady wrote about a supposed "economic revolution" happening in Cuba. It seems the Cuban government has just liberated the economy to allow individuals to buy and sell houses. This marks a huge step forward from the existing (since 1986) policy of allowing individuals to own homes, while limiting their property interest to exchanging those homes, not buying and selling them.
The "right to buy and sell homes"?! You'd think a truly liberal government would be granting the right to wear hats in this advanced age. As long as the government is in the business of holding tight to the reigns and meting out nominal positive rights, a liberal economy is a long way off.
Here is a letter to the editor I sent to the WSJ arguing just that:
Dear Editor: To paraphrase Mary Anastasia O'Grady's question in her Monday editorial: "What it...
April 29, 2011After two years on the real estate market, Martha Stewart's beautiful Tribeca penthouse finally sold this week for $8.6 million, a cool two-and-a-half times what Martha paid for the condo in 1999.
Alexis Stewart, the media mogul's daughter, initially listed Martha's "Ice House" for $12.95 million in 2009.
This weekend Tribeca begins its film festival, an annual event started in 2002 to bring attention and financial support to areas in lower Manhattan I wrote over at The Washington Examiner:
A lot has happened in Tribeca since 1999 -- lower...
April 27, 2011After Atlas Shrugged debuted to devastating debuts, producer John Aglialoro told the Los Angeles Times that he is considering ending the project without producing the second and third parts of the trilogy that were part of the original Atlas plan.
"Why should I put up all of that money if the critics are coming in like lemmings?" Aglialoro asked.
"Critics, you won," said John Aglialoro, the businessman who spent 18 years and more than $20 million of his own money to make, distribute and market "Atlas Shrugged: Part 1," which covers the first third of Rand's dystopian novel. "I'm having deep second thoughts on why I should do Part 2."
"Atlas Shrugged" was the top-grossing limited release in its opening weekend,...
April 27, 2011Monday morning the Supreme Court rejected Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's request to speed up the process for a ruling on Virginia's health care appeal.
By rejecting Virginia's unusual request, the Court denied Cuccinelli's request that its appeal bypass usual legal procedures to go directly before the nation's highest court. Instead, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear Virginia's appeal, scheduled for May 10.
So far five federal judges have heard challenges to Obama's sweeping healthcare overhaul. Judges in Florida and Virginia have declared the law unconstitutional, while Democratic appointees in Michigan, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. have upheld Obamacare.
Virginia's chief complaint with Obamacare is the individual mandate. Twenty-six states joined Florida's appeal that Congress grossly overstepped its authority with this unprecedented requirement that...
April 13, 2011Tax Freedom Day is the first day in the calendar year when the nation has paid enough to fund its annual debt burden. Everything you've earned up to this point goes directly to the government. A free sandwich is as good a way as any to celebrate finally arriving at the point in the year when you can spend what you earn on things you actually care about.
Mother Jones created a great visual of the national tax burden, represented in beers and burritos:
And here's the explanation, also from Mother Jones:
The 2010 tax bill...
April 13, 2011In further proof that communists never won the culture war in China, they merely shut down culture altogether, the Chinese government decided this week to enforce an outright ban on the popular "time travel" genre of Chinese films.
The reason? Chinese officials claim that using history as a basis for fiction "disrespects history."
I wrote in today's Daily Caller:
Forget for a moment the implications of a government whose reins on free speech are so tight that a top-down committee can ban an entire popular film genre.
What makes this story interesting is the fact that Chinese filmmakers — and the film-consuming Chinese public — are so interested in finding a connection to another time and place.
China has banned Google and Facebook and Twitter. Traveling to another time is the only chance many Chinese have of exploring at all.
April 5, 2011Yesterday's NYT cautions that "jobs are scarce" in small business as American entrepreneurship declines:
Here's the explanation the NYT includes from the pessimistic chart's author, Scott Shane:
68,490 more businesses closed in 2009 than in 2007, an 11.6 percent increase in the business closure rate. But in 2009, 115,795 fewer employer businesses were founded than in 2007, a 17.3 percent decline in firm formation.
How ironic; government started growing like crazy...
March 30, 2011Next time someone tells you that only the left side of the aisle cares about feeding hungry Americans, remind them that it's green special interests and Michelle Obama's size-awareness campaign that's making it harder for Americans to feed their families.
Food inflation is here, folks. Food costs the same; there's just less of it.
The New York Times ran an article this week complaining that consumers are up in arms because shrinking grocery packaging means they can't feed their families. It's a terrible thing that goods cost money; no question about it.
Yet if food manufacturers tried to fix the problem from the consumers' side of the problem, we'd have a bail-out situation. Manufacturers would be losing money on under-priced, over-sized food packages. It would only be a matter of time before grocery suppliers go out of business.
March 29, 2011Faced with budget shortfalls and a steep $20 million annual operating cost, this week Virginia decided to sell naming rights to its 42 highway rest stops.
While I've argued against WMATA's proposal to sell naming rights to Metrorail stations, sponsorship of highway rest stops presents more opportunities for semi-private proprietorship. This could benefit both the commonwealth and travelers.
I defend Virginia's decision in The Examiner:
March 10, 2011It's a new era in fast food. Last decade everyone was asking which food was the healthiest. Now growth is global, and it all comes down to dominance. The bigger they are, the bigger they'll get.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Subway has trumped McDonald's in the US and abroad, though McDo continues to rule in sales dollars:
At the end of last year, Subway had 33,749 restaurants worldwide, compared to McDonald's 32,737. The burger giant disclosed its year-end store count in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing late last month.
Subway has achieved its rapid growth, in part, by opening outlets in non-traditional locations such as an automobile showroom in...