Are You Ready for the ‘Inevitable’ Clampdown on Tech and the Media?

Figure Nick Gillespie skeptical:

Factor in the housing bust from a decade ago, the Great Recession, mall closings, the opioid epidemic, and whatever else you want to, and any semi-serious analysis is going to conclude that over the last few decades, “The living standards of Americans have vastly improved during the past 50 years, with the quality of available consumer products steadily rising even as their prices have steeply fallen.”

Me: there’ll be more corruption, greater market concentration, fewer choices, higher costs, lower living standards with more regulatory control. Check this:

When actually talking to Congress, Zuck (Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg) even volunteered to help write the regulations, while noting that the more Facebook and social media are regulated, the less likely it is that a rival will emerge.

How altruistic, he’ll help write the regulations — for the benefit of Facebook and every other company whose representatives can influence him. That’s the way government regulation works. They’re not going to do it the way they say or what you think.

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Your Tax Dollars at Work

Chart to accompany Moore article of Dec. 3, 2018.

These examples are from a column by Stephen Moore. He writes from a partisan perspective to get Republicans on the right side of the public’s trust. But this is your government at work and it has been for longer than Donald Trump has been president. This is how your government works no matter who is president or in the majority. Its a bi-partisan effort.

Explore the source of the data: openthebooks.com. For example, click on a state and find the salaries of government employees at the state and federal level in that state. Find the spending in that state by the state and localities and the federal government. Find the contributors of campaign money. Find reports on local governments.

 

SCOTUS on Indiana Case on Civil Asset Forfeiture

Eric Boehm: 

Civil asset forfeiture is such a farce that it took Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer only about 100 words to twist Indiana’s solicitor general into admitting that his state could have the power to seize cars over something as insubstantial as driving 5 miles-per-hour over the speed limit.

FYI definition:

. . . asset forfeiture is the process by which law enforcement can seize cars, cash, homes, and pretty much anything else that is suspected of being used to commit a crime or believed to be the proceeds of a crime.

Note the word “suspected”, not even accused. There is a perverse incentive involved because the proceeds can be added to local law enforcement budgets.

The Democrats “A Better Deal”

Reading through their agenda, I conclude its the same old crap. More government control, rules, and bureaucracy. And, the results will be the very results they say they are trying to fix. For example, their first issue complains about special interests and so-called the rich getting the benefits of government largess. But, any legislation or regulatory change involves the input of special interests. In fact, Democrats welcome special interests to provide expertise in writing legislation. They are the experts and that’s why they’re involved. The Democrats invite the special interests that fit their agenda to help who then tilt the legislation to their benefit. The result is more bureaucracy and more complexity in the lives of the middle class they say they are trying to help. How much record-keeping do we already have for taxes, medical care, and on and on? Well, that is the result of the very government Democrats are pushing.

How about this:

Our plan for A Better Deal starts by creating millions of good-paying, full-time jobs by directly investing in our crumbling infrastructure and prioritizing small business and entrepreneurs, instead of giving tax breaks to special interests.

How are they going to “creating millions of good-paying, full-time jobs” Well, that crumbling infrastructure is located in states that have been run by Democrats, with an occasional Republican elected such as NY, NJ, CA, IL. The fiscal problem at the state level is that government employee pensions, public education, and Medicaid have consumed their budgets, leaving little budget dollars left for infrastructure. Having the federal government spend on infrastructure relieves the state governors, legislators, and judges of being responsible for the infrastructure in their states. No real reform here.

Next, “prioritizing small business and entrepreneurs, instead of giving tax breaks to special interests.” is funny because “small business” and “entrepreneurs”, from a political perspective, are special interests. “prioritizing” means giving special treatment to special interests. Democrats just hide it from the public by burdening firms with the rules then we get ticked off at the firms for acting the way they do.

Here’s another: “We will crack down on monopolies and the concentration of economic power that has led to higher prices for consumers, workers, and small business”. The monopolies in the economy are the federal, state, and local governments. Further, firms cannot raise their prices. The prices of products and services that are rising faster then general inflation are those with heavy government involvement such as college tuition and public education.

Another problem with their approach is that all this activity interferes with the peaceful, voluntary actions of the American people interacting with each other and others across borders. That interference tilts the playing field because that is how the Democrats view everything. In Progressivism, someone must lose for someone else to win.

Next, their plan “provides new tax incentives to employers that invest in workforce training and education and make sure the rules of the economy support companies that focus on long-term growth, rather than short-term profits.” That means more paperwork, meetings, and time taken away from concentrating resources on doing the work for the customers of the firm. As well, firms have strategies for the short, medium, and long terms. They may not be completely filled out, but that is not possible because the future is unknown. The details get filled in as more information is available and more knowledge acquired. That’s why 10 or 20 years plans are nonsense.

The funny thing is, if a firm invests for the long-term, the results might pay off in government antitrust action against it, see Amazon.com. They invested for the long-term by keeping the retail prices low to build market share. But, Democrats want congressional hearings on its proposed acquisition of Whole Foods Market Inc. So the people at Amazon.com invested for the long-term and they get rewarded with congressional hearings. That makes no sense unless of course the hearings are for show and graft. Ahhh, graft. Squeeze a firm so its employees make financial contributions to the party.

And let’s not forget the mess the Democrats created in the health insurance market with Obamacare — monthly premiums higher, deductibles, higher, insurers leaving markets. So all in all, the Democrats are pulling the same stunts they always do.

Venezuela descends into predictable dictatorship

A. Barton Hinkle:

Last weekend, president Nicolas Maduro used a sham election to consolidate power, and by Tuesday armed thugs were rounding up opposition leaders. This is the all but inevitable outcome of the Venezuelan government’s economic policies, which have driven the richest nation in Latin America — a country with more oil than Saudi Arabia — into shocking destitution.

And Darío Paya, former Chilean ambassador to the Organization of American States:

“Populists and socialists destroy their societies in predictable ways. It’s not like one day a populist gets up and says, ‘I’m going to ruin this country.’ Rather, he starts out wanting to spread the wealth and finds that the easiest way to hand out cash is by simply printing lots of it. Which creates a new problem: As the currency weakens, prices rise. But the populist finds there’s an answer for that too. If bread is getting expensive, he can fix its price, and he gets to vilify the baker as a greedy capitalist.

 

“But then the baker stops producing bread because he can’t afford to make it, what with the rising price of flour. And so what does the populist do next? He fixes the prices of flour. When that doesn’t work, the politically expedient thing to do will be to take over the bakery and the farms and hand them to the folks in the party’s local committees, who prove to be rather less apt at farming and baking. …

 

“And if violence does erupt, it can be denounced as the doing of enemies of the state and used as a pretext for renewed crackdowns: ‘We’re going to tell the imperialism and the international right that the people are present, with their farm instruments in one hand and a gun in the other,’ Maduro told a Caracas crowd. And soon, Mr. Populist finds himself with a good reason to suspend the country’s constitution. Thus does a tyrannical attitude toward the shop-owner selling bread lead to a tyranny over a whole nation.”

 

 

 

Venezuela Update

CNN:

One of the opposition leaders says he likes the way the streets of the capital looked Thursday morning — empty.

Freddy Guevara, vice president of the opposition-led National Assembly, posted pictures of near-empty Caracas streets to his Twitter account, saying they showed that Venezuelans there were answering the call to stay home from their jobs.

“This is Bolivar Avenue this morning. A point of pride that we emptied it like all of Caracas. We continue!” Guevara tweeted.

Venezuela, the model for central planning of the economy — which is a better description than simply calling it socialism — is producing so much pain for its citizens that they are rebelling. And in response to the failures and protests the Maduro government is trying to re-write the country’s constitution to give itself more power.

And that’s how it goes: too much government control of the economy produces too much misery — such as lines for bread, bread for god’s sake — which leads the political leaders of such stupid policy to go to extremes to continue to hold power.