Tag Archives: american spectator

My Job Creation Proposal

Over at The American Spectator, I break down the debate over regulation’s impact on the job market and propose one regulation that could create countless jobs:

As everyone knows, winter is coming. And many of the nation’s least-employed states will see a lot of snow this year. Already, giant snowplows are beginning to traverse the highways and byways of Michigan, Ohio, and other states going through hard times. With these plows, one man can do the work of a hundred.

I say we ban snowplows and hand out some shovels.

Think about it for a minute. In Michigan alone, nearly 520,000 people are looking for a job and can’t find one. Tens of thousands of miles of roads zig and zag across the state. If this winter lives up to lofty Midwestern standards, it’s possible that every last one of those 520,000 could work at least part time clearing the way for their fellow citizens. And all because of regulation!

I do enjoy economic humor. Read the whole thing here.

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The Big Repeal

Congress and the White House have typically been reluctant to repeal any laws or regulations, regardless of which party is in power. The solution? Change the institutional rules of the game to give them an incentive to repeal laws. CEI Research Associate Jacque Otto and I expound on that idea in The American Spectator.

One reform would be a Repeal Amendment to the Constitution. That would give states a veto power over federal laws if two thirds of them vote for repeal. Georgetown law professor Randy Barnett has already drafted some language:

Any provision of law or regulation of the United States may be repealed by the several states, and such repeal shall be effective when the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states approve resolutions for this purpose that particularly describe the same provision or provisions of law or regulation to be repealed.

We have other ideas:

Short of that, the House and Senate could establish repeal committees. These committees would be unable to pass laws and regulations, only to repeal them. Its members would be ineligible to sit on other committees. The only accomplishments they would be able to tout to voters would be how much they lighten Washington’s heavy hand.

Another option is to add an automatic sunset provision to all new regulations — meaning that they would expire after, say, five years unless specifically reauthorized by Congress. This kind of regulatory expiration date would ensure that only the truly necessary ones stay in the books.

Read the whole thing here.

Congressional Economics

Some people think that the only reason poverty still exists is because Congress hasn’t passed laws guaranteeing the right to decent housing, health, and education.

Some of these people are in Congress. Over at The American Spectator, my colleague Jacqueline Otto and I explain why their hearts are in the right place, but their heads aren’t:

Suppose that poverty really can be abolished by passing a few laws. Jackson isn’t going nearly far enough, then. The Constitution should guarantee everyone not just a decent home, but a mansion filled with servants to take care of every need.

Everyone should have the right to not just a doctor’s visit every 6 months, but a cadre of specialists with access to the latest technologies and tests. This would be a boon for life expectancy.

And why only an iPod and a laptop for children? They deserve supercomputers! And the right to a Harvard Ph.D. Such a law would give America the most educated population in the world; though it would probably know the least.

Congress might as well pass a law guaranteeing an above-average lifestyle for all Americans.

Are Text Messages an Antitrust Issue?

Text messages cost 20 cents to send, even though they use a fraction of a penny of bandwidth. What gives? Antitrust authorities want to know.

Over at The American Spectator, I explain that it is likely a case of unbundling:

Maybe phone companies are unbundling texting from their other services. That way the only people who pay for text messages are the people who use them. If phone companies don’t have to provide texting service for people who don’t want it, they can keep costs down and charge lower prices.

This is much more fair to customers:

Why not just give all customers unlimited texting and charge a higher monthly bill? That would punish people who don’t text, such as this writer. By eschewing the flat rate and tolerating a few texts per month from family and friends who haven’t been properly trained, non-texters can save $50 or more per year.

Monopolists (and oligopolists) don’t behave that way. Companies competing against each other on price do. Trustbusters are forgetting something else, too. If a monopoly exists at all, it is very temporary.

It turns out that a young company called Beluga makes a free texting application for smartphones. Few things are as temporary as monopoly (or oligopoly) power. Since Beluga bypasses the texting cartel, you can have unlimited texting without the $5 monthly fee. Think of it as Skype for the text messaging set.

Read the whole article here.

Federal Register Hits 75,000 Pages

The Federal Register is not a perfect barometer of how active government is. Sometimes rules that ramble on for dozens of pages are almost innocuous. An economically disastrous regulation can take up less than a page. But in general, high page counts mean a more active government.

Over at the AmSpec blog, I break down some of the numbers behind the Federal Register’s latest milestone — 75,000 pages.

President Bush still holds the adjusted page count record. But President Obama is putting up quite a challenge; at its current 327-page per day pace, the 2010 Federal Register would be 81,560 unadjusted pages long.

The Power of Incumbency: Charlie Rangel Edition

Over at the AmSpec blog, I look at the just-wrapped House ethics trial against Charlie Rangel. Worth noting: while that Damoclean sword was hanging over Rangel’s head, 80 percent of his district’s voters though him worthy of another term.

Nothing against Rangel; he has his problems, but he’s good on some issues, such as wanting to end the Cuban embargo. But the ease with which even ethically-challenged incumbents get re-elected is a sign that our democracy is not healthy.

The Nobel Case for Immigration

Over at The American Spectator, my colleague Alex Nowrasteh and I make the case for expanding skilled immigration. Our main points:

-1 in 8 Americans are foreign-born, but 1 in 4 American Nobel laureates since 1901 are foreign-born. Immigrants, it seems, are chronic overachievers. America would benefit by letting more in.

-The H-1B visa for skilled immigrants is capped at 85,000. In non-recession years, those 85,000 spots are typically filled in a single day.

-Genius-level intellects are missing out on the chance to flower at the world’s best universities. They’re also missing out on one of the world’s best entrepreneurial environments. And Americans are missing out on cutting-edge jobs in high-tech fields. Consumers lose out on products that are never invented.

-The number of Nobel-caliber intellects who have lost their opportunity to do research in this country is unknown. What is known is that the U.S. government has kept out millions of the most inventive, brilliant, and entrepreneurial people in the world for no good reason.

Read the whole piece here.