free market

The War Over the Confederate Battle Flag Escalates

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It’s a shame it took the violent deaths of nine people to do it, but it looks like 150 years after the end of the Civil War the days of the Confederate battle flag are finally coming to an end. South Carolina, where the racist massacre occurred is swiftly moving to take down the flag outside their state capitol. Lawmakers in Virginia and Missisippi are proposing similar action to remove the symbol from their official state business.

This is fantastic news. State governments have no business using the symbol of a treasonous and racially-motivated war, no matter how much they try to spin it as part of their “heritage”. The Confederacy should be a period of shame, not pride, to any moral and especially Christian southerners. Its relics belong in museums to remind us of the darkest moments of our past, not as part of our current identity on state flags, license plates, capitol buildings, and the honorific names of schools, military bases, and other government buildings.

How Uber-friendly is your city?

Ridescore

The R Street Institute, a think tank that seeke to “engage in policy research and outreach to promote free markets and limited, effective government” launched Ridescore, an interactive scorecard that rates the car service industry in 50 top U.S. cities, including taxis, limosines, and ride-sharing services like Uber. Giving ratings ranging from A to F, R Street investigated the regulatory framework in cities as diverse as Washington, D.C. (A rating), Phoenix, Arizona (C+ rating), and Las Vegas, Nevada (F rating).

R Street reports:

To paint a comprehensive picture of transportation regulation across the country, we embarked on an ambitious research project to grade 50 of the largest U.S. cities on their friendliness to the full range of for-hire vehicle services. The challenges relate to more than just TNCs, thus we also surveyed restrictions on taxi and limo services. In each city, we gathered information on key regulatory variables for TNC, taxi and limousine services, awarding numerical scores for each category that reflect deviation from a base score. Combining the grades for TNC regulatory friendliness, taxi regulatory friendliness and limo regulatory friendliness together yields an overall “ride score” that describes the city’s openness to competition in the market for hired vehicle services. Forty percent of the overall ride score derives from TNC friendliness, 40 percent from taxi friendliness and 20 percent from limo friendliness.

Rules for Liberty

Don't Hurt People and Don't Take Their Stuff

Don’t hurt people, and don’t take their stuff. That’s the philosophy of liberty in a nutshell. Everyone should be free to live their lives as they think best, free from meddling by politicians and government bureaucrats.

To me, the values of liberty just seem like a commonsense way to think about political philosophy. The rules are easily understood, our aspirations for government are modest and practical, and our designs on the lives and behavior of other people are unpresumptuous, even humble. The rules are pretty straightforward because they treat everyone just like everyone else: simply; they are blindly applied like Lady Justice would; across the board. No assembly required.

I am not a moral philosopher and I don’t particularly aspire to be one. That said, I have stayed at more than one Holiday Inn Express. That makes me at least smart enough to know what I don’t know. So the rules that follow represent my not-so-humble attempt to boil down and mash up all the best thinking in all of human history on individualism and civil society, the entire canon of Judeo-Christian teachings, the spontaneous evolution of common law, hundreds of years of English Whig, Scottish Enlightenment, and classical liberal political philosophy, lots of Friedrich Hayek, Adam Smith and Ayn Rand, a smattering of karma, and, like any morally relevant updating of a time-tested ethos, at least a few hat tips to The Big Lebowski. All of this in six convenient “Rules for Liberty.”

Barack Obama is the middle class’ biggest enemy

Some of the best intentioned among us may think regulations indeed serve a greater purpose, after all, certain companies are only in it to make as much as they can with as little effort as they can! Somebody should certainly make sure they are working under strict rules so this type of predatory behavior can be avoided and consumers can be protected.

Well, that’s everything regulations promise to do and the exact opposite of what they actually achieve.

A recent study carried out by American Action Forum demonstrated that the increase in consumer prices under the Obama administration is directly linked to the surge in the number of regulations it has adopted.

The study shows that since 2009, this administration has imposed at least 36 new regulations that range from new fuel-efficiency standards, which resulted in an increase in the price of automobiles by $91, to the cost of mortgages, which has risen to an abysmal $362 annually.

ObamaCare, this administration failure disguised as health care law, has also increased the prices of health care insurance.

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.

Salon: Communism’s Just Misunderstood

The athletes are beginning to arrive in Sochi, and with them a different kind of protest than the ones seen in Russia leading up to the games. The local Communist Party, it seems, prefers a quieter tack than the protestors that took to the streets in the preceding months in the frozen land to the north:

About 12 kilometers (seven miles) from the nearest Olympic venue, a handful of curious onlookers, a few mothers pushing young children in carriages, two TV cameras and a sprinkling of uniformed and plain-clothed police were there to witness Igor Vasiliev, leader of Sochi Communist Party Branch, and six supporters stage a peaceful rally on Saturday.

Russian authorities are allowing public demonstrations during the Olympics, but there’s unlikely to be massed angry mobs of people protesting against the kind of issues in Russia that have gained international attention ahead of the games.

“Liberals Have No Idea How Capitalism Works” Says Rand Paul

Listening to lawmakers talk about the economy when they do not understand the mechanisms behind capitalism can be quite frustrating. Too often, they are unaware of how the system works and why it gives rise to affordable services and products, making trade and the distribution of several products, from basic to valuable items, accessible to nearly almost every American.

But every now and then, a legislator comes along to prove that they weren’t only elected to brag about passing complicated laws on national television.

Sean Hannity had Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) as a guest on his show to ask him a few questions regarding ObamaCare, the problematic Health Insurance Marketplace website and why Americans are appalled to have learned that their insurance premiums are actually much higher now than they were before the law kicked in.

According to Sen. Paul “if you mandate what is included in your insurance policy, if you say it has to cover all kinds of new things that haven’t been covered, it has to be more expensive,” which is why so many young and healthy people are quickly discovering that their coverage is much more expensive than before. While the Obama administration is attempting to give access to health coverage to every single American through ObamaCare, the final cost was apparently never taken into consideration.

The administration keeps repeating that people will now get better coverage without having to pay as much, but consumers are slowly learning that that is simply untrue, since all they have access to is insurance premiums offering excessive coverage that do not fit their budget.

Replacing ObamaCare: Republican Answer to Pre-Existing Conditions

This is the final post exploring the Republican Study Committee’s proposal for replacing ObamaCare.

The Republican Study Committee’s recently introduced comprehensive health care proposal titled the American Health Care Reform Act of 2013 (AHCRA), H.R. 3121, repeals ObamaCare and offers the best set of proposals to date toward establishing a Republican consumer-driven health care narrative.  Its core features include the Standard Deduction for Health Insurance, which would unchain the tax advantages for purchasing health insurance from employer-sponsored coverage, and its HSA enhancements to to unleash the power of the market in combating the skyrocketing costs of care and empower individuals to control their own medical savings and expenses.

AHCRA also includes a number of crucial market reforms that can answer some of the basic questions like “How do you address pre-existing condition exclusions without outright banning them like in ObamaCare?” or “If I can’t get coverage on an ObamaCare exchange, what would my options be?”  These proposals are important steps in showing that the federal government can act in unintrusive ways to improve the pre-ObamaCare health coverage landscape, and without the endless and heavy-handed stockpile of mandates that define ObamaCare’s failures.

Some of the highlights include:

Obama assures public he believes in the free market, outlines government-sponsored housing reform

It seems like the liberty movement has accomplished far more than what most of us ever expected: it got President Barack Obama to admit he believes in the free market.

The statement was made before a crowd in Phoenix, Arizona while President Obama outlined the first four principles of his new plan to govern the housing reform.

The new plan includes facilitating credit for what the president calls qualified buyers, who “want to get a mortgage but keep getting rejected by the banks,” and offering a solution to “address the uneven recovery” by restoring rundown homes and vacant property.

While summarizing his government-run plans to restore the economy by stimulating the housing market, which is nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to this administration’s policies, President Obama reassured Arizonans that steps must be taken to avoid yet another bubble.

The solution, President Obama says, is to do precisely what he wants to do with Obamacare, which is to set up ”clear rules for insurance companies to protect consumers,” thus making housing more affordable. He claims that his plan would offer a market-based solution still under the government’s watch that would ensure home value would go up for everybody.

Rand Paul Reintroduces the Congressional Health Care for Seniors Act

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has a simple idea to fix Medicare, and it involves offering all seniors the best health care system in America while saving taxpayer’s money.

According to Sen. Paul, his Congressional Health Care for Seniors Act would have Members of Congress and seniors sharing the same health plan, which would save $1 trillion over the first 10 years, amounting to a major cut of Medicare’s $43 trillion unfunded liability.

The bill, Sen. Paul says, “fixes the Medicare system, and gives seniors access to the best health care plans enjoyed currently by Members of Congress and does so without breaking the bank.”

Seniors would have access to a marketplace of various insurance plans that cannot deny coverage to anyone for any reason. While the government still pitches in with about three-quarters of the total costs, the open market makes it fairly less complicated for the senior to find a more inexpensive option, since companies will have to compete to meet the needs of growing numbers of customers. The Congressional Health Care for Seniors Act assures that there’s a gradual raise in the Medicare retirement age, which would go from 65 to 70 over a generation, leading to a major cut in overall costs.

Sen. Paul is confident that with his plan, the Medicare system will get the reform needed to become a more sustainable program without having to cut benefits or force a government rationing. Every citizen would be eligible to enjoy the same plan members of Congress enjoy without bankrupting the country since the new plan would be less expensive than the current Medicare system, which is now run by government bureaucrats.


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