It Doesn’t Seem Possible, but France Is Going from Bad to Worse

Remember when Paul Krugman warned that there was a plot against France? He asserted that critics wanted to undermine the great success of France’s social model.

I agreed with Krugman, at least in the limited sense that there is a plot against France. But I explained that the conspiracy to hurt the nation was being led by French politicians.

Simply stated, my view has been that the French political elite have been taxing the nation into stagnation and decline and there is every reason to think that the nation is heading toward a severe self-inflicted fiscal crisis.

But it turns out I may have been too optimistic. Let’s look at some updates from Krugmantopia.

We’ll start with a report from the Financial Times, which captures the nation’s sense of despair.

…if the country’s embattled socialist president was hoping for some respite from what has been a testing year, he can probably think again. … the French economy barely expanded during the second quarter of this year after stagnating in the first. …the result will make it all but impossible to achieve the government’s growth forecast for 2014 of 1 per cent… Bruno Cavalier, chief economist at Oddo & Cie, the Paris-based bank, says one reason is the huge constraint on disposable income posed by France’s tax burden, which has risen from 41 per cent of GDP in 2009 to 45.7 per cent last year – one of the highest in the eurozone.

Barack Obama is the middle class’ biggest enemy

Some of the best intentioned among us may think regulations indeed serve a greater purpose, after all, certain companies are only in it to make as much as they can with as little effort as they can! Somebody should certainly make sure they are working under strict rules so this type of predatory behavior can be avoided and consumers can be protected.

Well, that’s everything regulations promise to do and the exact opposite of what they actually achieve.

A recent study carried out by American Action Forum demonstrated that the increase in consumer prices under the Obama administration is directly linked to the surge in the number of regulations it has adopted.

The study shows that since 2009, this administration has imposed at least 36 new regulations that range from new fuel-efficiency standards, which resulted in an increase in the price of automobiles by $91, to the cost of mortgages, which has risen to an abysmal $362 annually.

ObamaCare, this administration failure disguised as health care law, has also increased the prices of health care insurance.

Report: Americans face $1.8 trillion in annual regulatory costs

 Ten Thousand Commandments

One of the most dangerous, least often talked about threats of the governmental regulatory machine is how much of our money is engulfed in the regulatory process, putting the country deeper into debt.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has just released its annual report on the general state of U.S. federal regulations and what is known as the “hidden tax” of the U.S. regulatory state known as the Ten Thousand Commandments.

Because regulations are proposed and enacted without allowing for a substantial review of their cost-benefit and its open discussion, Americans are hit with the consequences of the growth of the regulatory state where it hurts the most: their wallet.

“Federal agencies crank out thousands of new regulations every year,” says CEI Vice President for Policy Wayne Crews, “but we have little information on the cost or effectiveness of most of them.” According to Crews, one of the main issues with this process is the lack of transparency since few of us have access to reliable sources of information on what the regulations hope to accomplish.

The cost of the regulatory mess we find ourselves in adds hundreds of billions to our debt, which is why this report is so important. CEI Vice President for Policy warned the public that action is needed.

Will the FCC Force Television Online Even If Aereo Loses in Court?


The Supreme Court hears oral arguments yesterday in a case that will decide whether Aereo, an over-the-top video distributor, can retransmit broadcast television signals online without obtaining a copyright license.

If the court rules in Aereo’s favor, national programming networks might stop distributing their programming for free over the air, and without prime time programming, local TV stations might go out of business across the country. It’s a make or break case for Aereo, but for broadcasters, it represents only one piece of a broader regulatory puzzle regarding the future of over-the-air television.

If the court rules in favor of the broadcasters, they could still lose at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). At a National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) event earlier this month, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler focused on “the opportunity for broadcast licensees in the 21st century … to provide over-the-top services.”

According to Chairman Wheeler, TV stations shouldn’t limit themselves to being in the “television” business, because their “business horizons are greater than [their] current product.” Wheeler wants TV stations to become over-the-top “information providers”, and he sees the FCC’s role as helping them redefine themselves as a “growing source of competition” in that market segment.

Ninth Circuit affirms the right to carry for self-defense

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a California law yesterday that allowed local governments to effectively ban citizens from exercising carrying a gun outside the home for the purpose of self-defense:

The Ninth Circuit’s decision in Peruta v. San Diego…affirms the right of law-abiding citizens to carry handguns for lawful protection in public.

California law has a process for applying for a permit to carry a handgun for protection in public, with requirements for safety training, a background check, and so on. These requirements were not challenged. The statute also requires that the applicant have “good cause,” which was interpreted by San Diego County to mean that the applicant is faced with current specific threats. (Not all California counties have this narrow interpretation.) The Ninth Circuit, in a 2-1 opinion written by Judge O’Scannlain, ruled that Peruta was entitled to Summary Judgement, because the “good cause” provision violates the Second Amendment.

The Court ruled that a government may specify what mode of carrying to allow (open or concealed), but a government may not make it impossible for the vast majority of Californians to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms.

E-Verify is not comparable to voter ID

There are many thorny and complex issues in the immigration debate. In a lively Twitter discussion on Thursday, I was discussing work authorization, specifically E-Verify, the national electronic database whereby employers check prospective hires for work eligibility. Midway through this discussion, someone compared it to voter ID requirements, implying a consistent position would be to support both.

On its face this seems like a reasonable consideration. If you want to make sure people are legally authorized to vote, you should also want to make sure they are legally authorized to work, right? Upon futher reflection it becomes clear that these two measures aren’t really very similar, and arguments based on their comparison are dubious at best.

Voter ID is a requirement to access a public civic institution, but E-Verify is a mandate on private businesses. Employers have to screen every applicant for citizenship or work permit status before hiring them. One of the talking points of E-Verify opponents is that it makes every employer a de facto immigration officer and passes the buck of law enforcement to private entities. While actual border enforcement and maintenance of the E-Verify database would remain a federal responsibility, employers would face penalties, perhaps even worse than the unauthorized applicants themselves, for not using the system or violating it.

Business groups tell EPA to leave fracking regulation to the states


Radical environmentalists are urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to heavily regulate or ban hydraulic fracturing (also known as “fracking”), the process employed to extract shale oil and natural gas from underground sources, which could undermine a thriving part of the post-recession economy.

The fracking boom has been one of the success stories in an otherwise tepid American economy, which is still trying to recover five years after a deep recession. Just last month Bloomberg Businessweek covered a recent study by IHS CERA that showed the significant economic benefits of fracking.

“In 2012, the energy boom supported 2.1 million jobs, added almost $75 billion in federal and state revenues, contributed $283 billion to the gross domestic product and lifted household income by more than $1,200,” noted Bloomberg Businessweek. “The competitive advantage for U.S. manufacturers from lower fuel prices will raise industrial production by 3.5 percent by the end of the decade, said the report from CERA, which provides business advice for energy companies.”

The Wall Street Journal noted last week that the United States is “overtaking Russia as the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas,” producing the “equivalent of about 22 million barrels a day of oil, natural gas and related fuels in July” compared to the 21.8 million barrels produced by our former Cold War foe.

Liberty – Not Chinese Industrial Policy – Drives Innovation in America

Last week on The Diane Rehm Show, Susan Crawford, former special assistant to President Obama for science, technology, and innovation policy, claimed that China “makes us look like a backwater when it comes to [broadband] connectivity.” When she was asked how this could be, Ms. Crawford responded:

It happened because of [Chinese industrial] policy. You can call that overregulation. It’s the way we make innovation happen in America.

Ms. Crawford is wrong on the facts and the philosophy.

The Actual Facts

Two months ago, Ms. Crawford’s former employer, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, released a report with these conclusions:

Justice Anthony Kennedy is not a libertarian

Anthony Kennedy

Over the last few years, there has been much discussion about the philosophical leanings of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Long considered a moderate on the High Court, Kennedy has been the deciding vote in many 5 to 4 decisions, leading John Tabin of The American Spectator to note that “[i]t’s Anthony Kennedy’s world; we’re just living in it.”

Some legal scholars have surmised that the Supreme Court may be in some sort of “libertarian moment,” thanks in part to Kennedy. This is not necessarily a new theory. Shortly after the Court issued its decision in Lawrence v. Texas (2003), a ruling that struck down sodomy laws in 13 states based concerns over privacy, Randy Barnett praised Kennedy’s “presumption of liberty” approach.

Kennedy’s ideology was again the topic of discussion in 2012 after he sided with the minorty in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, in which the majority upheld the individual mandate in ObamaCare.

After the Court’s decision last month in United States v. Windsor, which struck down the federal provisions in the Defense of Marriage Act, Kennedy’s ideological views are, once again, being discussed by legal scholars.

Defending Cato from Paul Krugman’s Inaccurate Assertions

Written by Daniel J. Mitchell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

Writing for the New York Times, Paul Krugman has a new column promoting more government spending and additional government regulation. That’s a dog-bites-man revelation and hardly noteworthy, of course, but in this case he takes a swipe at the Cato Institute.

The financial crisis of 2008 and its painful aftermath…were a huge slap in the face for free-market fundamentalists. …analysts at right-wing think tanks like…the Cato Institute…insisted that deregulated financial markets were doing just fine, and dismissed warnings about a housing bubble as liberal whining. Then the nonexistent bubble burst, and the financial system proved dangerously fragile; only huge government bailouts prevented a total collapse.

Upon reading this, my first reaction was a perverse form of admiration. After all, Krugman explicitly advocated for a housing bubble back in 2002, so it takes a lot of chutzpah to attack other people for the consequences of that bubble.

But let’s set that aside and examine the accusation that folks at Cato had a Pollyanna view of monetary and regulatory policy. In other words, did Cato think that “deregulated markets were doing just fine”?

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