Tag: Regulations

Democracy: Perpetually at Odds with Unmolested Capitalism

Tu Lee | United States

America was birthed not just as a reaction to expensive tea, but as part of a more bedrock fight to preserve unfettered capitalism. As such, it should be expected that any notion to undermine this with socialist ideals would deeply offend even the most flimsily rooted patriots. As to not offend these types, welfare was initially pitched as “the opportunity to live in decency and dignity” by LBJ or even adherent to a more adequate “second Bill of Rights” by FDR. As a stale Democratic Party struggles to maintain their hold on an American public which increasingly views Revolutionary era capitalism as a decorative fantasy we are merely obligated to include in high school history textbooks, these niceties have been quickly abandoned. Just recently Democratic Senator Kamala Harris introduced $6,000 lump-sum checks to the poor and Democratic Senator Cory Booker flashed plumper $50,000 cash prizes to those who elect to prop up him and his regime. Our political discourse has reached a tipping point; politicians have ditched the previous sensitivity to blatantly bribe the remaining non-voting poor on the taxpayer’s dime. The politicians offer these bribes out in the open with their backs turned to those still expecting better acting on the American Playhouse stage. Disappointed as we may be as spectators, this new jump from our politicians erodes away a crucial truth about the relationship between Democracy and Capitalism.

Seemingly out of a Bernie Sanders daydream, the Pareto principle describes a widely present phenomenon where a small section of a population controls a vast majority of a resource. More commonly this is called the 80/20 rule, and it can apply to anything from wealth to consumption of healthcare resources. Essentially, most people are more or less mediocre producers, and those who happen to be good producers are exponentially amazing producers (think the Bill Gates or Trumps of the world). Interestingly, this general distribution occurs in wealth-generating economies regardless of historical or geographical context. If Democracy is equally representative, the Pareto principle tells us it will advocate for the worst 80% of contributors to the economy in disregard to the exceptionally great top 20% of contributors. While the advocation for the lazy majority could be peaceful, it’s often too effective for politicians to resist energizing the lower class against the upper class to maximize voter turnout. Jealously is stirred up and the democratic mass easily swallows the narrative of a rigged playing field or even the scapegoating of unrelated everyday problems. So long as historically inevitable Pareto distributions continue to exist in society, then Democracy, if truly representative of the masses, will fundamentally serve to throttle the economy’s greatest producers and therefore the fuel of the economy itself.

Why should the genius working day and night for the bettering of the society, his only roadblocks the laws vomited out of his country’s legislative belly have no recourse against the bum and his mindless kin? What is usually pitched as a loophole in our Democracy is actually one of it’s greatest unintended features. It makes sense that someone intelligent enough to sit on the peak of a Pareto distribution would be smart enough to tweak the governmental game when unfairly pressed. Whether it be through Super PACs, lobbying, or revolving doors, the nudging is not boundless and must happen within a degree reasonable enough to stay under the public radar. The natural tendency of those at the top to weasel into power over politics is a healthy restraint of Democracy, even if this assertion occurs in largely unsavory ways. Regardless of this, in Democracy’s immutable quest to serve the unconstrained will of the masses there will always be inherent toxicity, economic asphyxiation, and demonization of those who serve the country most by the very same masses who are simultaneously surrendering their own wealth voluntarily to those demonized.


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EPA Head Scott Pruitt Resigns Amidst Ethics Scandals

By Indri Schaelicke | United States

In a tweet Thursday, President Trump revealed that the Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt had resigned.

Several ethics controversies plagued the EPA director’s time in office. Mr. Pruitt’s inspector generals were still investigating some of these scandals.

Scott Pruitt’s Travel Funds

The first of the Administrator’s controversies while in office came to the attention of the public this past fall. In August 2017, Congress became aware of Pruitt’s potential misuse of travel funds. Allegedly, he was spending these funds on first class flights to his home state of Oklahoma.

Travel records obtained from a Freedom of Information Act request made by the watchdog group Environmental Integrity Project show that Pruitt spent 48 of 92 days in March, April and May 2017 traveling. 43 of those days were on trips that made stops in his home state, Oklahoma.

Another controversy arose when it was revealed that Scott Pruitt would frequently have his staffers make hotel reservations on their personal credit cards. On occasion, he did not reimburse them for the expenses. When he did, it would often be after a period of several weeks.

Further Scandals

Pruitt would also often enlist his staff to run personal errands for him. On one occasion, his staff drove him around to find a lotion from a Ritz-Carlton hotel. He also had members of his staff search for jobs for his wife. Mr. Pruitt’s use of his staff to fulfill personal tasks for him concerned many.

The former head of the EPA also had a history of failing to keep sound records on his meetings and official business concerning his agency. Kevin Chmielewski, former Deputy Chief of Staff Operations for Pruitt revealed that Pruitt and his aides would regularly hold meetings, at which they decided what information they would and would not release to the public. Essentially, the meetings were meant to categorize information from other meetings.

Moreover, at the time of his resignation, Congress was looking into Pruitt’s alleged use of four separate email addresses at the EPA. It is unclear if the agency searches all four email accounts when asked to produce public records.

Scott Pruitt also rented a condo from the wife of a lobbyist who he had been meeting with at the time of his residence there. A family friend of the lobbyist was being considered for a position at the EPA during the same time.

The Future of the EPA

EPA Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler will fill the now vacant seat. Pruitt, a vocal skeptic of climate change, worked to repeal many regulations put in place to slow climate change. He had been integral to the President’s campaign to cut back regulations.

While Mr. Wheeler will also work to roll back many environmental regulations, he is more likely to avoid media attention. His reputation is not one of seeking the public eye. This may aid him in being a more successful EPA head.

The Inspector General’s office of the EPA has also announced that all investigations into Mr. Pruitt’s activities that are currently open will be continue as planned.

As the EPA progresses forward after this change in leadership at the top, expect it to continue to cut down on regulations, perhaps at an even greater pace.


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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)

Trump is One of the Most Free Market-Oriented Presidents in Decades

Charlie Gengler | USA

With his biggest success of the year, Trump’s presidency is turning out to be a dream come true for the small government types.  He gave to his country the biggest reform of our wretched tax system in decades, saving U.S. citizens thousands.  But the most important part of his tax plan is by far his cut for corporations.  He lowered their taxes down to 21%, still higher than that of the socialist Europeans.  Many a pundit of the left claimed that this was stealing.  Yet, with the bill passed, they are proven wrong, and libertarians across the country rejoice. After all, less taxation is less theft. This comes off the back of a slew of free market-oriented decisions.

He started off manning a blitzkrieg on Obama-era regulations, freezing all regulations until expressly approved by his administration.  He also provided aid to those negatively affected by Obamacare, both of these on his first day in office.  He enacted a small review of federal regulations, studying there impact on domestic manufacturing, but the big one came just six days later, on January 30.  He wrote in executive order 13771, which decreed, “Unless prohibited by law, whenever an executive department… publicly proposes… new regulation, it shall identify at least two existing regulations to be repealed,” and at the end of the next month, he began enforcing this order. This was, and still is, huge.  It has, over the course of eleven months, eliminated 800+ regulations.  He went on to eliminate regulations in matters of climate, education and other matters.

Reducing regulations is only a slice of the pie, Trump has gone for nearly the whole shebang.  He has taken more libertarian stances on climate change, backing away from global pressures, and taking a hard stance on climate laws.  His trepidation with global politics shows his hesitations towards global government, the nightmare of many a small-government individual.  His stances on climate change are also inviting.  Libertarians, by principle, are against laws concerning climate in almost all circumstances, therefore we should implore Trump to continue this path.

Moreover, his stances on firearms are consistent with libertarian values.  He is against regulation on guns in every instance so far.  Trump is not only consistent with liberty valuing people on the 2nd amendment though, for his views on LGBT issues tend to fall in line with us.  He supports gay marriage, one of the few Republicans to do so,  but also, by proxy of the DOJ, supports the baker in the controversial case yet to come to the supreme court, Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.  The president’s approval of the store, in this case, is vital to our republic.  Without it, the 1st amendment is under serious threat.

The only real complaint against Trump from libertarians came during his campaign, about the time when he was threatening libel laws.  The only problem?  He has yet to pose any threat to not only free speech but all major values consistent with our beliefs.  You might have qualms about his military policies or his stance on immigration, but, so far, he has been the smallest government president since Reagan.