Free Enterprise

We Should Defund Planned Parenthood, But Not Over Abortion

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In case the headline wasn’t clear enough, this post is not about abortion. That sentence may be the only time I use the word at all. But this is definitely about Planned Parenthood and why it should not be federally funded, regardless of what goods or evils it may provide.

Planned Parenthood Federation for America, Inc. is a 501c3 tax-exempt non-profit corporation, so it doesn’t pay any income tax on its revenue or profits like most other private health care providers do. It received a total of 1.3 billion in revenue in the most recently reported year, 2013. Just under half of that was from government funding, $528 million.

So not only is Planned Parenthood not paying any taxes, they’re also receiving almost half their total income from your tax dollars. There’s a term for this (and no, it still has nothing to do with the “A” word). It’s corporate welfare.

Legalize Marijuana, Don’t Socialize It

The campaign to end the War on Drugs has gained momentum in recent years with state ballot initiatives legalizing recreational marijuana use in Colorado and Washington, and a similar referendum coming to Washington, DC on this year’s general election ballot. Along with the push to reform sentencing laws, even retroactively, for nonviolent drug offenses, it appears that huge strides are being made in allowing free citizens the right to enjoy relatively harmless substances as they choose. But as with any government effort, the reality is far from the idealized campaign promise.

In Washington state, which decriminalized small amounts of marijuana possession and consumption on the 2012 ballot, state-sanctioned retail sales just began in July. However, as this is still deep blue Washington we’re talking about, there is far from a free market for the stuff. The state has a strict licensing program that only allows certain retailers to sell marijuana legally, from only certain licensed producers, resulting in only one place to buy in all of Seattle on opening day. This isn’t exactly Starbucks for weed.

Nonprofits are stepping up to do what the VA system isn’t: Helping our brave veterans

VA Logo

The Texas Medical Association is stepping up where the Veterans Affairs system is failing.

The TMA announced this week they were starting a registry where private physicians could say whether or not they would accept veterans in their offices. The list would be given to community groups and VA health system officials. This is after The Daily Beast reported the Central Texas VA was being run like a “crime syndicate” so executives could get bonuses.

It isn’t the first time the non-profit group has suggested private doctors take care of veterans. They pressed the American Medical Association to tell President Barack Obama and Congress that military members deserved to have health care outside of the VA system.

Texas doctors aren’t the only ones doing this. Cooper University Health Care also announced this week they’d be starting a program to help veterans get access to care. Their “Cooper Veterans VIP Priority Program” is promising to deliver same-day service to veterans needing treatment. That’s down from the 25-day wait period veterans were having in the New Jersey VA system. Vets needing to see a specialist had to wait 45 days.

Uber under attack from bureaucrats… and anarchists?

Uber, Lyft under attack

Popular ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft have been under assault from local and state-level bureaucrats since their inception. In city after city, the status quo (generally, taxicab commissions) collude with government officials to set outrageous barriers to entry that keep competitors from entering the market.

These barriers range from coveted million-dollar medallions that limit the number of cars on the road to complex regulations crafted by taxicab special interests and enacted by their friends in government. In some cities, bureaucrats are even using these services, then fining the driver and impounding the vehicle.

There are even websites like “Who’s Driving You?” that seek to cast a shadow over these innovative services.

ReasonTV produced a short documentary late last year titled “Uber Wars“ about Uber’s face-off against the Washington, D.C. Council and the DC Taxicab Commission. While the battle over livery services in the nation’s capital seems to have quieted for now, it hasn’t stopped bureaucrats, police officers, and even anarchists from attacking the service in other cities.

Will the FCC Force Television Online Even If Aereo Loses in Court?

Aereo

The Supreme Court hears oral arguments yesterday in a case that will decide whether Aereo, an over-the-top video distributor, can retransmit broadcast television signals online without obtaining a copyright license.

If the court rules in Aereo’s favor, national programming networks might stop distributing their programming for free over the air, and without prime time programming, local TV stations might go out of business across the country. It’s a make or break case for Aereo, but for broadcasters, it represents only one piece of a broader regulatory puzzle regarding the future of over-the-air television.

If the court rules in favor of the broadcasters, they could still lose at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). At a National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) event earlier this month, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler focused on “the opportunity for broadcast licensees in the 21st century … to provide over-the-top services.”

According to Chairman Wheeler, TV stations shouldn’t limit themselves to being in the “television” business, because their “business horizons are greater than [their] current product.” Wheeler wants TV stations to become over-the-top “information providers”, and he sees the FCC’s role as helping them redefine themselves as a “growing source of competition” in that market segment.

Ex-Im Is The “Face of Cronyism,” Says Jeb Hensarling

Crony capitalism is America’s disease and the real problem with the modern perception of capitalism that most of the left likes to use against capitalism itself, without discerning between what voluntary trade and free markets can accomplish and what crony capitalism actually is all about.

It’s very easy to find perfect examples of crony capitalism in the age of President Barack Obama.

One of these perfect examples has been relying on taxpayer money to subsidize financial incentives destined to foreign companies that purchase U.S. exports: the Export-Import Bank.

The agency’s charter expires in 2014, making now the perfect time for opponents of crony capitalism to raise their objections to the agency’s upcoming congressional renewal. Heritage’s The Foundry talked to Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) about the Export-Import Bank and why he thinks that the federal export-subsidy agency should not be allowed to stay in business.

Liberty – Not Chinese Industrial Policy – Drives Innovation in America

Last week on The Diane Rehm Show, Susan Crawford, former special assistant to President Obama for science, technology, and innovation policy, claimed that China “makes us look like a backwater when it comes to [broadband] connectivity.” When she was asked how this could be, Ms. Crawford responded:

It happened because of [Chinese industrial] policy. You can call that overregulation. It’s the way we make innovation happen in America.

Ms. Crawford is wrong on the facts and the philosophy.

The Actual Facts

Two months ago, Ms. Crawford’s former employer, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, released a report with these conclusions:

NLRB Illegally Wades into Labor Dispute; Private Sector Fights Back

Just a couple of short years after using litigation to intimidate Boeing into either allowing new South Carolina employees to organize, or to move those new jobs to a state with stronger labor protections, two regional directors of Obama’s National Labor Relations Board asserted themselves in a labor dispute in New York earlier this year between Cablevision and the Communications Workers of America union. The NLRB, however, doesn’t have the authority to wade into the dispute because a D.C. Circuit Court ruled in January that Obama’s recess appointments to the NLRB were illegal.

Cablevision, according to the Wall Street Journal, sought emergency injunctive relief from that same D.C. Circuit Court earlier this year to stop the NLRB from trying to adjudicate the dispute in the agency’s administrative court:

Cablevision is petitioning the D.C. Circuit to issue a writ of mandamus—a direct court order—prohibiting the NLRB from proceeding with unfair-labor-practice complaints against it and its parent company, CSC Holdings. Cablevision’s rationale is straightforward: The same D.C. Circuit ruled in January that President Obama’s non-recess recess appointments to the NLRB were illegal. Thus, the board has been operating without a quorum since January 2012….

Happy Birthday, Adam Smith

The author of The Wealth of Nations would have been 290 years old today, had we discovered warp capability in the 18th century.

Adam Smith

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our necessities but of their advantages.

Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Book I, Chapter II

It was in this work and in this passage that Smith first began to describe the “invisible hand” of the market — the way that the rational self-interests of individual actors in a market, acting in concert with each other, yield efficient allocations of resources.

By the design of some grand cosmic joke, noted George Mason University economist Don Boudreaux in 2011, today is also John Maynard Keynes’s birthday.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Frack Nation: A Systematic Takedown of Gasland

Frack Nation

I was one of the millions of people who had seen the footage of the “flaming water” supposedly caused by fracking in Pennsylvania, but had never seen Gasland or really studied the issue in depth. When the opportunity to attend the Los Angeles premiere of Frack Nation arose, I decided to see what the fuss was about. Cinematically and content-wise, Frack Nation did not disappoint.

Frack Nation starts with the same flaming water shot from Gasland that has alarmed environmentalists and the masses and describes the anti-fracking movement’s complaints. What was helpful for a newbie like me was to have the fracking process described in detail.

McAleer interviewed many of the farmers of Dimock, Pennsylvania, the “ground zero”  of this issue. The farmers almost unanimously want the ability to lease their mineral rights to the gas companies for fracking. Many of them are dairy farmers whose land has been in the family for generations. They passionately tell McAleer that they need this money to be able to survive, as farming is a money-losing proposition these days. It is what they love to do, and leasing mineral rights will allow them to do that instead of joining the ranks of the unemployed.

Just as passionately, they state they would never allow anything on their land that harms the environment. Their homes are on this land. Their dairy cows graze on this land. They’ve tilled this land for a lifetime. They are believable – they would not allow any process that harms their asset, the land, just for money.


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