Eduardo Porter Gets One Right

May 18, 2016 at 10:22 am

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A left-leaning New York Times columnist, Eduardo Porter, writes this sentence in an article about how to increase economic growth:

Eliminating onerous regulations — things like occupational licenses that restrict eligibility for a variety of jobs and overly tight zoning laws that prevent the building of new homes — would improve economic efficiency and equity.

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NPR on Cross-State Health Insurance

May 12, 2016 at 12:20 pm

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If some news organization wants to run a ridiculously one-sided piece criticizing Donald Trump's idea of allowing sales of health insurance across state lines, that's annoying. But what's really outright galling is that the news organization is NPR, which is taking taxpayer funding to run this sort of nonsense.

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The Action in the States

May 12, 2016 at 11:36 am

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Usually the only poll that matters is the one taken on election day, but anyone feeling pessimistic about the state of the Republican Party these days, or about partisan division in America more generally, might take some heart from this Morning Consult ranking of state governors based on a "survey of more than 66,000 voters in all 50 states" conducted between January and May. (How the "survey" was conducted — phone? online poll? — is undisclosed, at least as far as I can tell.) From the report:

Republicans take eight of the spots on the list of 10 most popular governors. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is America's most popular governor, and he is followed very closely by fellow Republican Larry Hogan of Maryland.

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Behind a Maine Paper Mill Closing, a Tale of Times-Backed Tariffs

May 10, 2016 at 8:57 pm

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My column this week begins:

It's a story that hits so many hot-button issues of the presidential campaign—free trade agreements, energy costs, monetary policy, taxes, income inequality, the loss of middle-class manufacturing jobs to foreign competition and technological change, corporate political influence, and government officials-turned-high-priced-Washington-lobbyists—that you might expect to see it on the front page of The New York Times.

Yet in this particular case, the story is about the Times, which earlier this month announced it would take a $41.4 million loss "related to the announced closure of a paper mill operated by Madison Paper Industries."

Please check the whole column out at the New Boston Post (here), Reason (here), and Newsmax (here). It is a classic.

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What is Preet Bharara Afraid Of?

May 9, 2016 at 9:45 pm

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The Wall Street Journal has an excellent editorial on David Ganek's case against the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara. The editorial calls Mr. Bharara's insider-trading campaign "one of the decade's great white-collar injustices."

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Sibling Sorrow May Be Secret Strength of Presidential Field

May 3, 2016 at 2:18 pm

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The troubles faced by brothers and sisters of the leading presidential candidates are the subject of my column this week. Please check it out at the New York Sun (here) and Newsmax (here).

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New Yorker Toobin on Preet Bharara

May 2, 2016 at 9:04 am

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In the New Yorker, Jeff Toobin has an article about the U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, that goes further than most other coverage does in detailing how judges and defense attorneys think he has overstepped, or at least pressed the outer limits of, the bounds of appropriate conduct.

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Hillary Breaks Her Own Tax Pledge

April 26, 2016 at 11:28 pm

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Usually politicians wait until after they get elected to break their campaign promises against raising taxes, but Hillary Clinton is exceptional.

Mrs. Clinton has been going around promising not to raise middle class taxes. On Friday, April 22, in Scranton, Pa., she said, according to a transcript provided by her campaign, "I am the only candidate running in either party who has pledged I will not raise middle class taxes because the middle class needs a raise, not a tax increase." On April 18, in Staten Island, she said, "I'm the only candidate who has said this: I will not raise taxes on the middle class at all, period." (I wrote a column last year about Mrs. Clinton's tax pledge, if you are interested in learning more.)

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Hillary Recycles Jeb and Marco Themes

April 26, 2016 at 10:59 pm

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Hillary Clinton's rediscovery of the Jeb Bush "right to rise" language and of Marco Rubio's love for "welders" is the topic of my column this week. Please check it out at the New York Sun (here), Reason (here), and Newsmax (here).

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Elizabeth Warren Versus Steven Cohen

April 25, 2016 at 12:39 am

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Matt Levine has some interesting thoughts on Senator Elizabeth Warren's letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission about money manager Steven Cohen:

The markets are still safe from the possibility that Steve Cohen might "profit from -- and potentially exploit" outside investors. Until Jan. 1, 2018, when he can exploit them to his heart's content.

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Irony of the Day

April 25, 2016 at 12:31 am

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From a New York Post report on plans by the New York Times to lay off hundreds of staffers:

The Gray Lady is also looking at either a radical downsizing or closure of its Paris office, and has been moving people to London, where it can have better control of letting staff go, since French law makes it very difficult and expensive for companies to lay off workers, one source said.

The nice thing about being a multinational corporation such as the New York Times is that one can consolidate one's operations where the regulatory regime is friendliest to the ownership's interests. When companies move around to gain tax advantages, the Times editorially describes it as "looting" and calls for laws to prevent companies from exiting freely. But when the advantages involve labor law and the Times' own profits are at stake, somehow it's a different issue.

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Job-Killing Regulations

April 24, 2016 at 10:38 pm

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Solano County, Calif. officials shut down a brewery, forcing the layoff of 9 employees, the CBS local news there reports. Says the brewer: "We're in the grind of the bureaucracy, which is a lawyer-driven enterprise." The county faults the business' power cords and shipping containers.

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Hooray for Hillary's Ties to Wal-Mart

April 19, 2016 at 9:14 am

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Bernie Sanders is attacking Hillary Clinton for the fact that Alice Walton is supporting Mrs. Clinton's campaign. But if you aren't a socialist, that news may be encouraging rather than terrifying. The situation is the topic of my column this week; please check it out at the New York Sun (here), Reason (here), and Newsmax (here).

In response to the column, a community member sent this note:

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The Regulation Causes the Corruption

April 18, 2016 at 9:30 pm

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The news that a New York man has been arrested and charged with bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery in connection with obtaining handgun permits from the New York Police Department is yet another reminder that unreasonably strict regulation is an invitation to corruption. If it didn't take months of waiting, hundreds of dollars in fees, and an extensive application to exercise one's Second Amendment right to bear arms in New York City, there'd be no need to bribe anyone. The more complex the regulation, the more likely it is that the market will find a way to circumvent it through illegality. That doesn't excuse lawbreaking, but it is an argument — not the only argument, but one argument — for keeping regulations simple and minimal.

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Uber for MBAs

April 18, 2016 at 9:21 am

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"Uber for MBAs is a worrying sign for knowledge workers," is the headline the Boston Globe hangs over an article about Hourly Nerd, a young and growing Boston-based company that is a platform on which businesses and consultants can connect. It's a classic newspaper frame to make the headline about anxiety — "worrying" — rather than about the opportunity. It's only "worrying" for those who value the status quo more than the flexibility and independence offered by this new entrant, which may even expand the market by making high-quality consulting available to small and medium-sized business rather than just large corporations.

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