Sony loses millions after rejecting China’s demand to remove Statue of Liberty from new ‘Spider-Man’ film

“In China, films are reviewed by the China Film Administration under the Publicity Department of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Chinese authorities initially wanted Sony and Marvel Studios to take out the American landmark, which is prominently featured during the film’s third act, according to multiple sources.

Chinese regulators reportedly modified the original request to remove the action-packed sequence, instead asking for the removal of certain shots from the sequence that they deemed too “patriotic,” such as the scenes where Tom Holland’s Spider-Man stands on the Statue of Liberty’s crown. The regulators also suggested dimming the parts when the statue is shown to make it less noticeable.

Sony ultimately rejected the request, resulting in Chinese authorities preventing the latest Spider-Man film from being released in the biggest film market in the world. The film lost a potential $170 million-$340 million in sales from China, according to reports.”

How a Tiny Solar Company in California Might Convince Biden To Sabotage America’s Whole Solar Industry

“A tiny solar panel manufacturing firm with outsized political clout is poised to wreak havoc on the entire American solar energy industry.

And the White House, which at least theoretically supports expanding America’s green energy industries, might just go along with the madness. It’s a tricky situation for President Joe Biden to navigate, one that requires choosing between two of his top policy priorities: industrial protectionism and combatting climate change.

In February, the California-based company Auxin Solar submitted a petition to the U.S. Department of Commerce asking for a more expansive set of tariffs targeting imported solar panels and their component parts. The company alleges that American solar panel manufacturers are avoiding tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels and components—tariffs originally imposed in 2018 by the Trump administration but renewed earlier this year by Biden—by buying parts made in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam that are sometimes made with Chinese parts.

That is, of course, pretty much exactly what you’d expect any company to do. But Auxin argues that the federal government now has a responsibility to stop what it calls attempts to “circumvent” those tariffs on Chinese imports by imposing new tariffs on imports from those four other countries as well. In March, the Commerce Department launched an investigation to determine whether those tariffs are to be added.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), those prospective tariffs would target the source of about 80 percent of America’s supply of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, the fundamental building blocks of solar panels. In a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in March, dozens of the SEIA’s member companies warned that the tariffs would “stall both ongoing and planned U.S. solar projects and lead to the loss of over 45,000 American jobs, including 15,000 domestic solar manufacturing jobs.” It would also mean losing about 14 gigawatts of planned solar deployment—about two-thirds of the Energy Information Administration’s target for solar deployment this year

All that, the SEIA warned, “because a single company is seeking to inappropriately exploit the law for market advantage.”

It sounds like a typical story of big business using its political clout to shut smaller competitors out of the market. But the bizarre thing about this fight is that relatively unsuccessful businesses are holding the rest of the market hostage. Because they have friends in Washington”

“this offers a lesson about how protectionism creates perverse incentives in markets and politics. Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on Chinese solar parts and Biden’s decision to extend those tariffs have created a bizarre situation where a bankrupt solar manufacturer and an “artisanal solar boutique” might get to dictate the future of an entire industry.”

Taking Formula From Immigrant Babies Won’t Fix the Shortage

“Migrants in detention centers aren’t free to leave facilities whenever they want to shop for baby formula. Legally, essential products must be provided to migrant children that the government has detained. “Facilities will provide access to…drinking water and food as appropriate,” reads the 1997 Flores settlement that addressed the treatment of migrant children. A 2015 Customs and Border Patrol document on detention standards noted that “food must be appropriate for at-risk detainees’ age and capabilities (such as formula and baby food).” These legal standards predate the Biden administration.

Nor would diverting baby formula away from immigrant detention centers ease supply chain woes in a meaningful way. Ursula—the facility Cammack singled out on Twitter—holds around 1,100 detainees. The number of American parents who rely on formula to feed their infants is on the order of millions. Though several Republican lawmakers and right-leaning news outlets are agitating about the “pallets of baby formula for all of the illegals who are crossing into the United States,” none have been able to say exactly how much formula is going to detention facilities or how often shipments are arriving.

The baby formula shortage is indeed a huge problem. About 40 percent of top baby formula brands are out of stock right now, and producers are warning that shortages could last for several months. But the shortage wasn’t caused by the government’s legal duty to feed the kids it has confined. “Much of the current shortage is rooted in a February recall of formula after a suspected bacterial outbreak at an Abbott Nutrition plant in Michigan,” explains Reason’s Eric Boehm. And while we could re-fill those shelves with formula from abroad, tariffs and quotas “make it burdensome and costly to import the supplies that are now desperately needed.”

You can’t solve the national shortage by making it harder for undocumented parents to feed their babies. Instead of looking for immigrant scapegoats, lawmakers should tackle the trade and regulatory policies that helped create the current shortage.”

Biden’s Protectionist Regulations Undermine His Own Infrastructure Plans

“The $1.2 trillion infrastructure law signed by President Joe Biden in November expanded requirements that federally funded infrastructure projects purchase American-made goods and materials. Now, new rules from the administration will make it harder to get waivers from those cost-increasing mandates.

For decades, Buy America laws required that grantees receiving federal funds to build roads, bridges, and rail lines purchase domestically produced steel, iron, and manufactured goods—including rolling stock like buses and trains. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) expanded those Buy America requirements to cover copper wiring, plastics, polymers, drywall, and lumber.

These requirements are known to raise costs and can even make some projects totally infeasible. For that reason, grantees have been allowed to request waivers from Buy America laws when they prove unworkable or raise costs too much.

But on Monday, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued guidance intended to narrow the use of those waivers for the Buy America provisions of the IIJA.

Typically, requests for those waivers are approved or denied by the federal agencies that provide a project’s funding. Monday’s guidance, in keeping with an earlier White House executive order, requires these agencies to consult with OMB’s Made in America Office when considering waivers for grant awards made with IIJA funds. It also gives OMB’s Made in America Office final say over whether these waivers are approved.

The explicit purpose of sending these waivers through OMB is to limit the number and extent of waivers granted.”

Biden Administration Deflects Blame on America’s Self-Inflicted Ocean Shipping Problems

“The Jones Act, more formally known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, places extremely strict, deliberately protectionist rules in place that can help explain why shipping prices are high.

The Jones Act requires that goods traveling between U.S. ports be carried by ships constructed in the U.S. and owned and operated by U.S. companies and workers. The ostensible purpose of this old law was to give U.S. maritime companies a domestic advantage over foreign competitors. In reality, the law has backfired magnificently. The domestic shipbuilding industry has collapsed because it’s just cheaper to build ships in other countries, giving a handful of companies complete market dominance. This means that most new ships are not compliant with the Jones Act, and attempting to break into the domestic market is oppressively expensive. Only 2 percent of the United States’ own domestic freight is transported by sea due to this law.

It also means it’s incredibly costly to import goods to isolated parts of the U.S. like Hawaii, Alaska, and territories like Puerto Rico. Ships compliant with the Jones Act cost three times more to build and up to five times more to operate than foreign counterparts. These calculations, Cato Institute Policy Analyst Colin Grabow notes, originate from our own federal government’s analyses.

The Jones Act has essentially created the exact same noncompetitive domestic environment that the Biden administration is blaming on foreign companies. In response to the administration’s complaints, Grabow observes that just two domestic carriers are responsible for almost all Jones Act–compliant ocean shipping to Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, and Guam. And consumers there have to pay through the nose for goods.”

Biden’s Protectionist Trade Agenda Will Increase Prices. In Fact, It Already Has.

“If concentration in the marketplace was somehow to blame for rising prices, then it would make sense to attack that problem by expanding competition. Give consumers more choices and they will naturally flock to lower-priced alternatives, putting pressure on other sellers to keep prices down.

The problem, for Biden, is that so much of his economic agenda is pointed in exactly the opposite direction. In one breath, he complains about the lack of consumer choice driving up prices. With the next, he proposes to further restrict consumer choice.

“We will buy American to make sure everything from the deck of an aircraft carrier to the steel on highway guardrails are made in America,” Biden said, before promising that his administration would make some of the “biggest investments in manufacturing in American history” to bring about “the revitalization of American manufacturing.””

“”Shifting demand to American producers with ‘Buy America’ polices [sic] that stop firms and consumers from buying at the lowest cost, no matter how politically attractive, are inflationary. This is something all economists should agree on,” Summers tweeted. “Blaming inflation on corporate greed or holding out the prospect that capacity can be expanded rapidly is at best diversionary.””

“Tariffs are also contributing to inflation by artificially raising the prices of imported goods, including products like raw steel, aluminum, and lumber that are necessary inputs for American manufacturers and home builders.”

“The two researchers found that costs imposed by trade barriers were passing along nearly in full to consumers. For every 1 percentage point increase in the cost of imported construction materials caused by tariffs, for example, they found domestic price increases of 0.9 percent after six months.”

Biden’s Regulatory Wish List Will Make Infrastructure Projects More Expensive

“It would be terrific if the Biden administration intended to truly “update and modernize” the Davis-Bacon Act, namely by hollowing it out and allowing workers to truly compete for federal construction contracts in a field where wages are not preemptively set, regardless of the applicant’s experience. After passing an infrastructure bill that was considerably smaller than originally proposed, any opportunities to cut costs should be obvious winners. Unfortunately, despite the new rule’s lack of specificity, Biden’s previous rhetoric on the law is discouraging.

“When President Obama put Vice President Biden in charge of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), Biden made sure that Davis-Bacon Act and Service Contract Act standards were strictly enforced, requiring that the prevailing wage be paid to construction workers and service workers on all projects funded by ARRA,” noted Biden’s campaign website. “As president, Biden will build on this success by ensuring that every federal investment in infrastructure and transportation projects or service jobs is covered by prevailing wage protections.”

In “Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad,” signed a week after he took office, Biden stipulated that “agencies shall, consistent with applicable law, apply and enforce the Davis-Bacon Act and prevailing wage and benefit requirements.” And in his February remarks to labor leaders regarding his plans for a future infrastructure spending bill, Biden indicated that he expected the legislation to create “jobs—good-paying jobs, Davis-Bacon and prevailing wage jobs.”

From Biden’s statements on the subject, it’s clear that any of his proposed “updates” to the Davis-Bacon Act would not make it easier to hire contractors at market rates.”

The Build Back Better Bill Will Give You $12,000 for Buying an Electric Car. Unless It’s a Tesla.

“As part of Biden’s plan to rein in carbon emissions, the bill contains a provision which would provide a $7,500 tax rebate to any consumer who purchases an electric vehicle (EV), including both all-electric and plug-in hybrids. However, that amount increases by $4,500 if the car was manufactured in a unionized U.S. factory, as well as by an additional $500 if the vehicle contains a U.S.-made battery.

Ostensibly, this provision is part of Biden’s “Buy American” policy of incentivizing or mandating purchases to be made domestically. In practice, the order has simply carried over the protectionism of the Trump trade policy and increased costs to taxpayers. The EV credit proposal, though, is much more egregious, in that it not only incentivizes a particular type of product, but incentivizes particular brands, as well.

If enacted as written, the bonus $4,500 in EV credits could only apply to cars made by Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler). In other words, a driver who wants to purchase a hybrid Toyota Camry, which U.S. News & World Report ranks as having “Great” reliability, does not qualify for the extra money, even though the car is manufactured in Kentucky. But if that same shopper elects to purchase a Chevrolet Bolt, which recently halted production because the batteries were catching fire, they would receive the extra rebate. As a matter of fact, out of more than 50 EVs currently on the market, the only vehicles which currently qualify for the extra money are two variations of the Bolt.

This is what is most pernicious about this policy: Rather than simply a blanket advantage for American companies (which would be bad enough), it is a clear giveaway to the United Auto Workers (UAW).”

Food Trucks Still Being Squeezed Out by Local Governments

“Detroit’s city council introduced new rules that will allow food trucks to operate in more parts of the city beginning next spring.

“From an equity standpoint and from a food access standpoint, we believe food trucks should be able to operate in public spaces across the city,” city councilor Raquel Castañeda-Lopez, who introduced the measure, told the Detroit Free Press.”

“While words such as “fairness and harmony” and “equitably” make for a nice word salad, they mask the true, protectionist spirit underlying the new ordinance.

“Food trucks must be 200 feet away from existing restaurants and 300 feet from entertainment and sports arena areas,” the Freep report indicates, also noting that food trucks may no longer operate after 11 p.m. That’s progress?

Maybe to Larson, whose nebulous, we kinda sorta like it remarks aren’t a huge surprise, given that Downtown Detroit Partnership’s member list includes a host of giant companies and traditional food-truck opponents—including brick-and-mortar restaurateurs and the realty groups that rent space to them.

Indeed, in discussions of expanding food truck access to other parts of Detroit—or any city or town in America—the devil’s in the details.”

Congress Finally Passed Biden’s Inefficient, Deficit-Hiking Infrastructure Bill

“The bill is also larded up with provisions that will make infrastructure projects more costly for taxpayers. That matters, of course, because if you inflate the cost of building a bridge and you have a fixed amount of money to spend on new bridges, you’ll get fewer bridges.

For example, the bill’s “Buy American” provision is nothing more than performative patriotism and a handout to politically powerful unions. By mandating that materials used in road, bridge, and rail projects come primarily from the United States, Congress will effectively hike prices and engage in arbitrary protectionism.”

“The infrastructure bill could have been an opportunity to reform other federal rules that unnecessarily drive up the cost of building infrastructure. Like the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires that most workers on federally subsidized building projects are paid the local “prevailing wage” negotiated by unions even if the workers themselves are not unionized—and only about 13 percent of construction workers are part of a union. The Davis-Bacon Act rules can increase the costs of infrastructure projects by as much as 20 percent.

Similarly, the infrastructure package could have suspended or eliminated parts of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in order to streamline environmental reviews of infrastructure projects. Currently, NEPA reviews take more than four years on average, and they are frequently used as tools to block development for reasons that often have little to do with the environment.”