Tag: regulation

Rock City No More: How Big Government Ruined Detroit

By Adam Burdzy | United States

Kiss, otherwise known as one of the worst bands of all time, released a semi-mediocre song in 1979 titled “Detroit Rock City”. This song tried to capture the spectacular wonder of the once great city of Detroit. Let’s take a look at life in Detroit before the 60’s. This city was where Henry Ford drove his first prototype car on the street. This event sparked the rich history that Detroit has had in producing automobiles, becoming the car capital of the world. Not only did it employ some 296,000 people in this industry, but it was also the city where Berry Gordy founded Motown Records, which produced some of the most famous artists of the time such as The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, and The Jackson 5.

But alas, this wonderful capitalist city began to change for the worse in the 60’s. The 12th Street riots were the first sign of change to come. Rioters attacked the police, who then called the army. All in all, 43 people died and 342 were hurt. The small flame eventually spread into a forest fire, and nobody could stop it. How could this have possibly happened? Let me tell you how: big government policy.

The last Republican Mayor of Detroit served until 1957, and after the Democrats took after, things took a drastic turn down the wrong path. Of course, the city was already in a tumultuous time with the riot. Ultimately, it pinned inner-city blacks against the police, not dissimilarly to how the same thing occurs now.

Along with the riots came the crippling regulations to the economy. Businesses started to move away from the city due to the regulations that the Democratic Party imposed. People lost their jobs, and poverty increased. Detroit’s population used to be close to 1.9 million, but today, only around 672,000 reside in the city. Most people left, but some stayed, and of those people, many are unemployed As of 2017, the official statistic was 8.4%, which is double the national level. And going back just seven more years yields a whopping 27%, higher than the national average during the Great Depression.

The politicians that ran the city into the ground focused greatly on government spending hikes. They continue to spend taxpayer money to support unhealthy, unproductive lifestyles, instead of encouraging them to return to the workforce. By receiving handouts, many don’t learn how to work and make a life for themselves.

Luckily, some of Detroit’s population has realized they don’t need government to help them out. They realized that what the government of Detroit really makes it worse for them because the social programs rarely work. That is why a group of citizens is volunteering to clean up the city by donating their time to perform labor tasks, such as mowing grass and picking up garbage. Basically, they are creating their own Crisis Engagement Taskforce to do some essential community services. When looking at these few individuals, it is clear that government involvement is simply unnecessary. Judging by the economic record of late, it often makes problems a whole lot worse.


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Autonomous Vehicles VS Government

By Joshua D. Glawson | United States

“Autonomous” vehicles, also known as “self-driving,” “driverless,” and “robotic” vehicles, are the future of every means of vehicular transportation. Self-driving cars for your daily commute, robotic trucks carrying shipments cross-country, driverless taxi services, autopilot commercial jets, and beyond, will be the normative in the not-so-distant future. The biggest hurdle between the current human driven vehicles and the autonomous vehicles of tomorrow is an overbearing government and general people of society scared of progress. Ronald Bailey, the author of Reason Magazine’s article “Will Politicians Block Our Driverless Future,” demonstrates that within the United States of America (US) fear, politicians, and bureaucratic agencies slow down progress of technology while the free market would push us into a world of great technological advancements. I happen to agree with Ronald Bailey’s assessment, and I share his passion for a self-driving vehicle future of less accidents, economic salvation, trafficless roads, and a leap into an automated world of tomorrow.

In March 2016, Senator Ben Nelson of Florida addressed the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation with his then recent experience of testing a self-driving Tesla. He was not trusting enough to allow the car to take a turn on its own, so he took over the steering wheel. Nelson pontificated, “In the federal government we have a critical role to make sure that the regulatory environment and legal environment in which American business does business is able to develop and manufacture these vehicles. And also it means that we’re going to have to- in our case- exercise responsible oversight,” ensuring that the government would also be metaphorically grabbing the wheel of the future of autonomous vehicles (Bailey. Page 20). Many politicians like Nelson ignore that Article 1 — Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution does not entitle congress to regulate the market in such a way (Constitution).

Similarly, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles in Sacramento is already planning to regulate and limit driverless vehicles in that they have drafted various regulations stipulating that even autonomous vehicles must have steering wheels, pedals, and a specially trained driver in the driver’s seat (Bailey. Page 20). This is normal practice for a big brother government made up of politicians that want to appear as though they are doing something important, when, in fact, they are slowing down human progress. The cellular phone, for instance, was restricted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by declining cellular licenses from 1970 all the way until 1983 (Bailey. Page 25). This means that cellphones could have been sold in the free market nearly a decade prior if it were not for a meddling government and, in turn, this demonstrates that progress is fearfully decelerated by constant legislatorial interfering.

Leading minds amongst the growing field of autonomous vehicle pioneers such as Brad Templeton, of Electronic Frontier Foundation, UCLA’s (University of California, Los Angeles) urban planner Donald Shoup, Columbia University’s mobility specialist Lawrence Burns, and Chris Urmson, Google’s self-driving car chief, all agree that government regulations need to cease in regards to robotic vehicles. Chris Urmson is quoted on a public blog in response to California’s mandate proposals as saying, “Instead of putting a ceiling on the potential of self-driving cars, let’s have the courage to imagine what California would be like if wasted hours, and restricted mobility for those who want the independence that the automobile has always represented,” (Bailey. Page 20).

According to the global financial services firm Morgan Stanley in an analysis given in 2013, driverless vehicles would save the US as much as $488 billion in accident avoidance, $507 billion in productivity gains, $158 billion in fuel savings, $138 billion in productivity gains from congestion avoidance, $11 billion in fuel savings from congestion avoidance, and $168 billion in long haul freight trucking annually (Bailey. Pages 23–24). Additionally, driverless cars would allow the elderly, disabled, and the intoxicated to safely move about. California state officials would be seriously hurting not only their state technological advancements, but also the economic stability that the autonomous car would bring them.

The author of “Will Politicians Block our Driverless Future,” Ronald Bailey goes through every objection Senator Ben Nelson and many people in public share (Nelson). He addresses the fear, politicians, government controls, economy, and even hacking. Understandably, there are still a lot of what-ifs, but that is no different than the what-ifs that currently plague and stagnate our society with the technology that we already have. Such burlesquing inquiries only expose the insecurities in people rather than the possibilities of progress. According to Berkley’s transportation security researcher, Steven Shladover, in response to hacking on the highways, “Vulnerabilities in autonomous vehicles are not a whole lot different from the sort of cyber-attacks that can be unleashed on modern vehicles that are not automated today,” (Bailey. Page 24). Ergo, hacking and other technological problems could be an issue today, but as they are not it, too, should not be a limiting factor for autonomous vehicles of tomorrow.

I am in accord with Ronald Bailey’s assessment of government getting in the way of technological advancement, especially with this scenario of the autonomous vehicle. Fear of the unknown cannot be a reason to allow control and limitations of human progress. If fear were a reason to demand control over ourselves by others, we would still be in caves and hiding in forests among only our closest of kin. We would have never had a car, never had an airplane, never had a cellphone, or just about anything else around you now.

As shown when the FCC did not allow companies to sell cellular phones from the 1970s until 1983, bureaucracy is currently on the same track of mindless repetition in prevention and unnecessary red tape in regards to the driverless vehicle. While also comparing the autonomous vehicle to commercial airliners it is momentous to point out that airplanes are vastly automated already. Thus, fear should not be a part of the minds of people or bureaucrats demanding regulations. In the New York Times article “Planes Without Pilots” by John Markoff, pilots of Boeing 777s are noted to spend around seven minutes, or less, actually controlling the plane each flight, and pilots flying Airbus planes spend nearly half that time (Markoff. ¶7). In a Vanity Fair piece entitled “The Human Factor,” author William Langewiesche details the tragic 2009 Boeing 727 plane crash of Air France Flight 447. Throughout his article, captioning the actual cockpit conversations and situations as gathered from the plane’s recovered black-box, it was human error that eventually led to the fateful end for the 228 lives aboard and not the automation (Langewiesche).

As of 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) declared 32,675 people died in vehicle accidents within the US (NHTSA 1. Page 2) and around 94% of those were due to human error rather than mechanical or electronic errors (NHTSA 2. Page 1). With automated vehicles operating at full capacity without limitations, the number of accidents and resulting deaths would tremendously plummet towards zero. Brad Templeton of Electronic Frontier Foundation stated, “Developers don’t need to prove the safety of the vehicles to the government, but first to their board of directors and customers,” (Bailey. Page 24). Viz., with less regulations, preferably little-to-none, customers could be more easily acquired and that capital would help finance further research for autonomous vehicles and their respective safety, simultaneously launching the nation and world into a future of driverless vehicles.

Restipulating the facts, the technology for self-driving vehicles is already here. We just need less government regulations limiting the market of free and voluntary exchange in order to produce the necessary capital to fund the release and testing of autonomous vehicles and their technology. There is not a need for a coercive monopoly, i.e. government, to be the tester and bureaucratic red tape between companies manufacturing autonomous technology that helps everyone and the people that benefit from it or those that just simply want it. Fear cannot be a factor that limits us as a progressive specie. Autonomous vehicles are safer, more efficient, and more cost-effective than human drivers. This autopia is possible only if legislators and the fearful would get out of the road to successful technological progress with autonomous vehicles.


Works Cited:

Bailey, Ronald. “Will Politicians Block Our Driverless Future?” Reason July 2016: 18–25. Print.

http://reason.com/archives/2016/06/18/will-politicians-block-our-dri

Markoff, John. “Planes Without Pilots.” New York Times 6 Apr. 2015. Web. 1 August 2016.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/07/science/planes-without-pilots.html?_r=0

Nelson, Senator Bill. Sen. Bill Nelson on ride in self-driving car: “I’m glad I grabbed the wheel.” MRCTV,

15 Mar. 2016. Web. 1 August 2016. http://www.mrctv.org/videos/sen-bill-nelson-ride-self-driving-car-im-glad-i-grabbed-wheel

NHTSA 1. 2014 Motor Vehicle Crashes: Overview. Mar. 2016. Web. 1 August 2016.

http://www.nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812246.pdf

NHTSA 2. Critical Reasons for Crashes Investigated in the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey.

Feb. 2015. Web. 1 August 2016. http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812115.pdf

U.S. Constitution. Article 1, Section 8.

http://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/articles/article-i

Theresa May Isn’t A Fan Of Cryptocurrency

By Nick Hamilton | USA

Cryptocurrency is increasingly looking like the next big investment trend, with skyrocketing numbers. However, British Prime Minister Theresa May and the British Government aren’t huge fans of it.

The Prime Minister spoke at Davos, an economic forum in Switzerland that United States President Donald Trump also attended. She voiced concerns about criminals using cryptocurrency because of the way that it works. Attacking Bitcoin, May said the following during her speech.

“Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, we should be looking at these very seriously, precisely because of the way that they can be used, particularly by criminals.”

May also took shots at tech companies, saying it’s up to them to step up their game in dealing with harmful online activity. She added that these companies are very smart, having “some of the best brains in the world,” so they need to clamp down on the spreading of terroristic content, child abuse, or modern slavery. She feels that these companies should give the British Government backdoor information. By doing so, they could see coded messages from criminals, but at the cost of user privacy.

Despite May’s concerns, there is little to no risk of this occurring. In fact, app developers physically cannot decode this end to end encryption. That’s how these attacks get planned without setting off alarms.

At this point, nobody is certain if the British Government wants to ban cryptocurrency altogether. They may instead take steps similar to South Korea, creating hard regulations on anonymous cryptocurrency accounts. However, CoinMetro CEO Kevin Murcko asserted that regulations from the British Government could actually benefit cryptocurrency. He insists that people would feel safer investing in cryptocurrency, therefore more people would invest.

Either way, after May’s speech on Thursday, Bitcoin’s price plummeted. It fell from a peak of $11.6K to $10.5K per coin.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond also had some comments on Thursday about Bitcoin. He said that the Bank of England has interest in bitcoin, but they need to regulate it to prevent danger.

(Image from metro.co.uk)

Deputized Police are Destroying Trust in Law Enforcement

By Jadan Buzzard | USA

Police officers are sworn to serve and protect their respective communities. These men and women fulfill an essential function, protecting citizens from dangerous criminals who strive to violate natural rights. However, many police departments harbor a dark secret. These departments partake in a program intended to deputize local law enforcement officials to enforce federal immigration laws, granting many officers broad discretion in their policing practices. This program, known as “287(g),” was enacted as a part of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which amended the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. In essence, it grants the Department of Homeland Security the jurisdiction to enter into agreements with local police departments, giving those local police the ability to act as federal immigration agents. Once entered into an agreement with DHS, local police can interrogate individuals to determine immigration status, work with DHS databases, issue immigration detainers, and transfer immigrants over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation. As one might expect, the 287(g) agreement program severely impacts local communities, destroying trust in the police and spiking serious crime. Citizens ought to recognize this program as flying in the face of good policing practices. Eliminating the program will create an environment that encourages community trust, boosts the economy, and respects the civil rights of all Americans.

Investigations conducted by the Department of Justice uncovered sweeping discriminatory practices in several departments with 287(g) agreements. Does the name “Joe Arpaio” ring a bell? He was the Maricopa County sheriff in Arizona, recently pardoned by President Trump for unlawful enforcement of immigration laws and severe police misconduct allegations. The 287(g) agreement his department had with the DHS granted him the power to sweep Latino communities for illegal immigrants, interrogating any minorities he deemed suspicious. This practice ought to be opposed by all liberty-minded individuals. When officers begin to make judgments based on physical criteria, like skin color, the result is counterproductive and dehumanizing to people of color. Local enforcement officers should focus on protecting the public from dangerous criminals, not immigrants (who are actually less likely to commit crimes than people born in the United States). The 287(g) program displaces police priorities, moving them from productive work to pursuing small crimes and traffic violations.

This raises another issue with the program: it destroys community trust in the police. Community trust is essential to the safety of a given community. Minorities need to feel comfortable revealing important information to police officers about serious crime. These individuals are significantly less likely to assist law enforcement with a serious crime if police are constantly questioning their immigration status. In fact, according to The Center for American Progress in March 2017, “70 percent of unauthorized immigrants and 44 percent of Latinos are less likely to communicate with law enforcement if they believe officers will question their immigration status or that of people they know.” Thus, not only is the 287(g)agreement program racially discriminatory, but it also limits the effectiveness of law enforcement in general. Police often rely on insider information when pursuing a serious crime, and a lack of information can leave a police investigation severely handicapped. This leads to crime spikes in local communities, driving police to suspect minorities yet again, encouraging more discrimination. The ensuing crime spiral is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.

A final issue with the 287(g) agreement program is the impact it has on federalism, the system created by the American founders to protect against tyranny. Local police have a specific function – to protect local communities from serious crime – and federal immigration agents have their own function – to enforce federal immigration law. While my view on federal immigration policy is another story, separating jurisdictions provides each actor more efficiency in its operations. But federalism also guards against the usurpation of power by the larger branch, which in this case is the federal government. The founders implemented this system throughout the American government, and it tends to work. The 287(g) program, however, creates an unnecessary (and even dangerous) overlap between federal and state jurisdiction. It turns local police officers into federal agents, consequently offering their jurisdictions over to the federal government. The precedent set by 287(g) can have far-reaching negative effects on future policy. We cannot wait idly by as the federal government continues to usurp powers deliberately left to state and local governments. This provides yet another warrant for the abolishing the program once and for all. Through this act, communities can stand for their Constitutional rights and guard against the onslaught of federal usurpation.

Unfortunately, Trump is pursuing efforts to expand 287(g). The acting director of ICE even announced plans to triple the number of agreements by the end of 2017. This, to put it lightly, is not helpful. Trump should not be focusing on undocumented immigrants that pose little threat to overall safety or the economy. In fact, immigration generally boosts economic growth due to lower labor costs. Many politicians talk of immigrants “stealing” American jobs – a flawed understanding of macroeconomics. Businesses gain revenue from cheaper labor, which allows them to expand production, providing cheaper goods and even more jobs to the public. Undocumented immigration should not top of the list of “crack-down” priorities for the Trump administration, yet somehow it continues to pervade his policy and rhetoric.

While some may consider 287(g) rather irrelevant due to its small size and lack of media coverage, I consider it to be critical. Allowing “unimportant” policies to escape public attention is dangerous. It encourages policymakers to slide back-door regulations into large bills in hopes that they remain hidden. This practice is simply an extension of the nanny-state bureaucracy our government is currently devolving into. We, as individuals, have an obligation to preserve the principles of liberty that our country was founded upon. Without them, no nation can truly flourish. Take a stand against 287(g) and other federal policies that violate natural rights and grant officials broad, unnecessary power. United, we will remain a formidable force, against which tyranny cannot prevail.

We’re Gonna Die: How Oregon’s ‘Gas Crisis’ Shows the Psychological Trap of Government Intervention

By Mason Mohon | OREGON

The world is ending, or at least it is in Oregon. Since 1951, Oregon law has mandated that all gas stations have attendants working there to fill up gas on behalf of drivers. 

The intent of this law was to boost employment. Ever since it was made known that rural towns within Oregon would no longer have to abide by this law, all hell broke loose. Oregonians are afraid, and this “fear” shows an all too real issue in American society today: People have become attached to the state, so much so that they cannot bear to see life without it.

First, the situation within Oregon must be analyzed. As NPR reports, “As of Jan. 1, gas stations in counties with a population of less than 40,000 are permitted to offer self-service. While the change in the law is expected to affect a small number of people, Oregonians took to social media to express their discontent.” This discontent was great indeed and echoed what I would see in a post from The Onion. NPR went on to say “The responses to a now-viral Facebook post by a local TV station ranged from concerns about smelling like gasoline to being attacked by drifters lurking around stations. Some said they didn’t even know how to pump gas.”

Yes, these Oregonians are this scared and are this fearful of gas. As somebody who lives in Texas and pumps his own gas, I can confirm that pumping gas does not make you smell like anything.

This hysteria has raised a dangerous issue – once the government intervenes, people cannot even imagine life without it. A classic thought experiment free-market economics professors like to do is telling the student to imagine if the state were to nationalize t-shirt or sneaker productions. Most likely we wouldn’t be able to imagine life without it. The ones who do, though, are what Bastiat called the “good economists,” who were those that saw what was unseeable to the layman.

Oregonians were dependent on this regulation, and they are so scared of life without it that it has turned them into a national joke. This government dependent attitude is not new, though. Recently, taxes were cut, Obamacare was nearly destroyed, and net neutrality was repealed. People got so afraid of every single one of these actions in every end of the political spectrum. People couldn’t imagine the internet functioning without government regulation, nor could they imagine the rich paying fewer dollars in taxes or even being responsible for your own health.

This is a dangerous psychological threat to people everywhere. We cannot sit by and expect the state to do everything for us, because what if something goes wrong one day? What if the state collapses, shuts down, or misallocates resources? You’ve been so dependent on it that you will be helpless without it. People become dependent on the state, so they give it more power. The people in charge live off the dependent backs of the masses, and nobody will ever question. This is the danger of a lack of personal responsibility – when you become dependent on a person or organization, they can now control you.

Thankfully, Oregonians may discover a nice law of the free market. Chances are, they are going to discover that the market serves demand. Although there may not be much competition in rural areas, the stations that have servicemen filling up your car for you will probably have a competitive edge on other stations. Either way, though, this will probably cause Oregonians who do not see a continuation in served gas will both learn how to do a very easy task that they will have to do anytime out of the state and save a few dollars.

We must be incredibly wary when advocating for government involvement in any market, ever, for its damages can be detrimental to masses of individuals and society as a whole. The term “sheep” tends to be a bit of a cliche, but when it comes to being dependent, it definitely applies. Men are responsible. Sheep are dependent.