Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri announced he will introduce a bill to ban “manipulative” online game features. The Republican calls his bill the “Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act”. The bill will prohibit games marketed towards children from adding features that require money for advancing or receiving random rewards. These features being “Loot Boxes” and “Pay to win” in the video games industry. Additionally, the bill gives the Federal Trade Commission the power of enforcement of the ban. Furthermore, it gives state attorney generals to files lawsuits against companies who violate the ban.
For decades, the war on drugs has raged its way across the world, taking a particularly strong hold in America. With politicians from Reagan to Biden fathering policies that have incarcerated millions and killed many more, the world is beginning to see the disastrous effects of drug prohibition. For one thing, it actually can increase deaths from drug overdoses; when Portugal decriminalized all drugs, their addiction and overdose rates plummeted. But another drug, ketamine, offers solutions to the opioid crisis and many other medical problems.
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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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.
Bailey, Ronald. “Will Politicians Block Our Driverless Future?” Reason July 2016: 18–25. Print.
Markoff, John. “Planes Without Pilots.” New York Times 6 Apr. 2015. Web. 1 August 2016.
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.
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.
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)