April 24, 2015
Randal O’Toole of the Cato Institute has a great blog post outlining the various ills besetting America’s government-subsidized passenger rail carrier Amtrak. The gist of O’Toole’s argument is that although both federal and state governments contribute large sums of money to keep Amtrak afloat, potential riders have not been nearly as enthusiastic. A recent National Journal article does cite Amtrak’s ridership as increasing 50 percent in the last fifteen years, but O’Toole points out that the increase was largely driven by a simultaneous increase in gas prices. Amtrak’s new riders aren’t somehow more attuned to taking passenger trains than they were before, they’re simply responding to...
April 20, 2015
The Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank is making quite the ruckus in Washington these days. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has dubbed the state-run bank “controversial.” House Republicans seem divided on the issue. Indeed, this lesser-known bank will likely surface in the coming months as a topic of debate for presidential hopefuls. Some have called it “crony capitalism,” while others maintain the bank is useful to small businesses nationwide.
A new study by Mercatus...
April 17, 2015
A recent New York Times article highlights the plight of one plucky New York taxi mogul caught between flawed governmental policy and the process of creative destruction. Evgeny Friedman is asking the city government to bail out his troubled cabbie business after he was unable to make good on loans he took out in order to pay for the sky-high price of dozens of New York City taxi medallions.
In New York, the issuance of a taxi medallion is analogous to owning a “deed” to a taxi. In order to operate a taxi, you must possess or work for someone who possesses one of these medallions, the supply of which is capped at about 6,000. Unsurprisingly, as both the population and demand for taxi services have increased over the...
February 20, 2015
Policies aimed at reducing auto emissions in California and 10 other states are having a troubling set of unintended consequences, according to a recent editorial at Bloomberg View. Editors point out that the “zero-emissions” credits program ends up amounting to a subsidy for electric carmaker Tesla Motors of up to $30,000 per car sold, penalizing the buyers of nonelectric vehicles who end up underwriting the purchase of someone else’s $100,000 Model S. In addition, electric cars may not even be much “greener” than their nonelectric counterparts, when one considers the time of day these cars are charged as well as the source of the electricity—in many parts of the country, exchanging a conventional vehicle for an electric one means trading a gasoline-powered car for one...