Americans Oppose Big Government, Unless Their Party Is in Power

“”Republicans and Democrats are more inclined to say the government has too much power when the president is from the other party, and less inclined when a president from their own party is in the White House.” For more than a decade, Republicans have said that government has too much power, but the intensity of their feelings fluctuates depending on whether they hold the White House. Democrats also vary in their feelings, though they tend to believe the government is too powerful only when the presidency is held by Republicans. Majorities of independents have pretty consistently stuck to their guns in opposing an overpowerful state no matter which party has the edge.”

“”Negative partisanship is the idea that people choose a party not necessarily based on the party’s platform or even the candidate. They do so out of animosity or dislike or disdain toward the opposing party,” Chris Weber, an associate professor in Arizona State University’s School of Government and Public Policy, commented in 2020. Weber points out that Americans haven’t really changed their feelings towards their own parties over the years, but their dislike of political opponents has intensified.
“Viewing half of the country or a large section of the country as antithetical to American democracy is actually really harmful,” he added. “It’s an outgrowth of political polarization that has potentially very serious consequences.””

Markets Aren’t Perfect, but Government Is Worse

“The free market’s price system, along with competition by sellers for customers and by consumers for good deals, play an essential role in gathering and processing the information about our economy that is dispersed among millions of buyers and sellers. The resulting prices are a measurement of how much people value goods and services.

In a well-functioning competitive market, this argument continues, these critical price “reports” tell us the most advantageous ways to use finished goods and services, intermediate goods, raw materials, and—importantly—human time and talent, and lead entrepreneurs to produce what we want most intensely as efficiently as possible. In economics terms, prices convey information about scarcities and about wealth-creating incremental substitutions.

It’s a mind-blowing system where, as French political scientist Frederic Bastiat reminded us decades ago, although no one plans it, “Paris gets fed daily.”

Enter Samuel Gregg and his wonderful new book, The Next American Economy. Gregg’s case for the free market goes beyond the classic economic argument.

He writes that “the case for free markets involves rooting such an economy in what some of its most influential Founders thought should be America’s political destiny; that is, a modern commercial republic.” He adds that “politically, this ideal embodies the idea of a self-governing state in which the governed are regularly consulted; in which the use of the state power is limited by strong commitments to constitutionalism, the rule of law, and private property rights; and those citizens consciously embrace the specific habits and disciplines needed to sustain such a republic.”

Yes! I like to believe I’m a great advocate for markets, but whenever I omit these last points, I sabotage my own case. For one thing, terms like “competitive markets” give the impression of a heartless process. But the most important aspect of this competitive process is cooperation.”

“No serious free marketer believes that markets are perfect. We aren’t utopians. Unfortunately, perfect markets and perfect competition are often the starting point of economic textbooks. This rosy starting point leads many to conclude that when conditions are less than perfect, the best course of action for a correction is government intervention. It’s wrong.

Not only is government itself imperfect, as anyone can plainly see, but the market is a process to find and fix errors. A market imperfection is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to profit. As Arnold Kling recently wrote, “Markets fail. Use markets.” That’s because, Kling adds, “entrepreneurial innovation and creative destruction tends to solve economic problems, including market failures.”

This isn’t to say that the government plays no role aside from protecting property rights. But it means that faith in government intervention should be tempered with an acknowledgment of government’s own flaws, including a tendency to favor one group of people over another and an inability to adapt when policies fail or circumstances change.

The bottom line is that when we talk about the “free market,” it is a shorthand for a combination of institutions that allow people to cooperate, tolerate one another, live in peace, and flourish. As Gregg reminds us, all these elements are a quintessential part of what President George Washington envisioned for the new nation he led and described as “a great, a respectable & a commercial nation.””

Colorado Town Seizing Ski Resort’s Land To Stop It Building Employee Housing

“Following months of increasingly contentious head-butting, officials in the mountain town of Vail, Colorado, are moving to seize a property from a local ski resort to prevent it from constructing new housing for its employees.
The property in question is a 5-acre site abutting a frontage road in the eastern part of the 5,600-person ski town. After nearly five years of rezonings, planning, permitting, and litigation, ski resort operator Vail Resorts is ready to move ahead with the $17 million Booth Heights project that would create 165 beds for its work force.”

“Standing in their way is the town of Vail itself, which filed a petition in Eagle County District Court on Friday to invoke its eminent domain powers to seize the Booth Heights site and hold it as open space”

“Throughout the process, Vail Resorts has maintained that its project would not harm the area’s bighorn sheep. Plack tells Reason the company has committed to paying $100,000 for habitat restoration and would install barriers around its property to prevent residents and pets from interfering with the sheep.

An environmental impact report prepared for the project concluded that it would not harm the area’s sheep. Vail Resorts notes in a lawsuit challenging the emergency ordinance stopping construction of its project that the town has approved several large homes within the bighorn sheep’s range.”

The Government Can’t Fix Social Media Moderation and Should Not Try

“Despite their increasingly bitter differences, Democrats and Republicans generally agree that content moderation by social media companies is haphazard at best. But while Democrats tend to think the main problem is too much speech of the wrong sort, Republicans complain that platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are biased against them.
The government cannot resolve this dispute and should not try. Siding with the critics who complain about online “misinformation” poses an obvious threat to free inquiry and open debate. And while attempting to mandate evenhandedness might seem more consistent with those values, it undermines the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment in a more subtle but equally troubling way.”

Declining Faith in Both Capitalism and Socialism Leaves … What?

“”I know that some people in the U.S. associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism. Therefore I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy,” then-Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen commented in 2015. “The Nordic model is an expanded welfare state which provides a high level of security for its citizens, but it is also a successful market economy with much freedom to pursue your dreams and live your life as you wish.”

“So, what is the catch you might ask. The most obvious one, of course, is the high taxes. The top income tax in Denmark is almost 60 percent. We have a 25 percent sales tax and on cars the incise duties are up to 180 percent. In total, Danish taxes come to almost half of our national income compared to around 25 percent in the U.S.””

Hackers have laid siege to U.S. health care and a tiny HHS office is buckling under the pressure

“the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights, which is tasked with investigating breaches, helping health care organizations bolster their defenses, and fining them for lax security, is poorly positioned to help. That’s because it has a dual mission — both to enforce the federal health privacy law known as HIPAA and to help the organizations protect themselves — and Congress has given it few resources to do the job.
“They’re a fish out of water … They were given the role of enforcement under HIPAA but weren’t given the resources to support that role,” said Mac McMillan, CEO of CynergisTek, a Texas firm that helps health care organizations improve their cybersecurity.

Due to its shoestring budget, the Office for Civil Rights has fewer investigators than many local police departments, and its investigators have to deal with more than a hundred cases at a time. The office had a budget of $38 million in 2022 — the cost of about 20 MRI machines that can cost $1 million to $3 million a pop.

Another problem is that the office relies on the cooperation of the victims, the institutions that hackers have targeted, to provide evidence of the crimes. Those victims may sometimes be reluctant to report breaches, since HHS could then accuse them of violating HIPAA and levy fines that come on top of costs stemming from the breach and the ransoms often demanded by the hackers.

Depending on the circumstances, it can seem like blaming the victim, especially since the hackers are sometimes funded or directed by foreign governments. And it’s raised questions about whether the U.S. government should be doing more to protect health organizations.”

How Demands for ‘Local Control’ Become an Excuse for NIMBYism

“These “get off my lawn” conservatives claim to be upholding the principle of local control by arguing that local government officials rather than bureaucrats in far-off Sacramento get to make development decisions. It sounds good in theory given the Jeffersonian concept that the government closest to the people governs best.

The better quotation (actually used by Henry David Thoreau but often misattributed to Thomas Jefferson) is “that government is best which governs the least.” The goal—for those of us who value freedom—isn’t to allow the right government functionary to control us, but to have less government control overall.

Local officials are easier to kick out of office than officials in Sacramento or Washington, D.C., but the locals can be extremely abusive. They know where we live, after all. I’ve reported extensively on California’s defunct redevelopment agencies, and local tyrants would routinely abuse eminent domain under the guise of local control.

“Under S.B. 9, cities are required to approve these lot splits ‘ministerially,’ without any reviews, hearings, conditions, fees or environmental impact reports,” complains my Southern California News Group colleague, Susan Shelley.

Oh, please.

Conservatives have for decades complained about the subjective nature of bureaucratic and public reviews, the evils of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and excessive fees. Now there’s a law that fixes that, albeit in a limited manner, and they are grabbing their pitchforks.

S.B. 9 and S.B. 10 do not put Sacramento bureaucrats in charge of the locals. Instead, they deregulate certain development decisions, by requiring officials to approve a project “by right” provided it meets all the normal regulations. It eliminates subjectivity and defangs CEQA. Yet this greatly upsets them.”

“If conservatives seriously believe local control is the trump card, then they should lobby for the repeal of Proposition 13, which is a state-imposed restriction on local governments’ authority to raise property taxes. I find Prop. 13 to be one of the best laws ever passed in this state. They should also oppose Republican efforts at the federal level to limit the ability of blue states to regulate the heck out of us.”

Chile’s Proposed Left-Wing Constitution Could Spell Chaos

“Chile’s draft constitution is even longer than Venezuela’s, which was redrafted by Hugo Chávez’ administration during his first year in office and set the stage for the country’s socialist revolution, descent into dictatorship, and ensuing economic collapse.

Venezuela has had 26 constitutions in a little over two centuries. In general, the practice of scrapping and rewriting constitutions helps to explain Latin America’s relentless political turmoil.

A constitution provides legal stability and predictability—like a computer operating system. Tampering with any foundational code creates security holes that are easily exploited by political opportunists looking to amplify their own power and overturn the established order.

Even if Chileans reject the new constitution—and, thankfully, polls indicate that they probably will—Boric can choose to start the process again with the election of yet another constitutional assembly to draft yet another version.

That could bring years of chaos, economic stagnation, and legal uncertainty. Now that Latin America’s free market experiment and “economic miracle” may be coming to an end, hopefully, the rest of the world can learn from the experience of Chile once again: Beware leftist pipe dreams.”

America’s Founders Raged Against Qualified Immunity, Trade Restrictions, and Anti-Immigrant Policies

“The Declaration of Independence is probably best known for the panache of its opening and closing stanzas. Those bits about “the course of human events” and the pledging of “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor” suggest that the authors and signers understood the political and historical significance of the moment—and, after all, you can’t have a revolution without a little linguistic dancing.
But the bulk of the document—it’s just 1,330 words; take a moment to read it today—is dedicated not to grand statements about self-evident truths or sweeping philosophical claims.

Mostly, it’s a laundry list of complaints about how the government really sucks.”