“The Government Is a Hitman: Uber, Tesla, and Airbnb Are in Its Crosshairs”

I’ve got a new column up at Time, all about
ridiculous regulatory attempts to squelch disruptive business
models such as Tesla, Uber, and Airbnb. Here’s the start:

What the Invisible Hand of free-market innovation giveth, the
Dead Hand of politically motivated regulation desperately tries to
taketh away.

That’s the only way to describe what’s happening to three
wildly innovative and popular products: the award-winning electric
car Tesla, taxi-replacement service Uber, and hotel-alternative
Airbnb. These companies are not only revolutionizing their
industries via cutting-edge technology and customer-empowering
distribution, they’re running afoul of interest groups that are
quick to use political muscle to maintain market share and the
status quo….

If mobsters were pulling these sorts of stunts, we’d
recognize the attacks on new ways of doing business for what they
are: protection rackets.

I cite
historian Burton W. Folsom’s distinction between “market
entrepreneurs” and “political entrepreneurs.” The former capture
customers and profits by delivering new and better products and
services. The latter rely on governments and regulators rigging or
freezing markets to their advantage (bonus frustration: market
entrepreneurs routinely transmogrify into political ones after
gaining a big market share). In Folsom’s telling, the 19th-century
steamboat pioneer Robert Fulton exemplifies both categories, first
by improving a technology and gaining a market and then by locking
in a state-granted monopoly for steamboat traffic in New York. In
the end, though, real markets do win out, though:

Folsom’s study of political and market entrepreneurs also
suggests that political entrepreneurs are ultimately unsuccessful.
Indeed, in 1817, Fulton claimed that his monopoly meant that no one
could ferry passengers to New York City from neighboring states. A
young Corneilius Vanderbilt was hired by a Jersey businessman to
challenge Fulton not in a court of law but on the Hudson River,
ferrying passengers from Elizabeth, New Jersey and Gotham.
Vanderbilt cheekily flew a flag from his ship that read, “New Jersey must be free.”
While evading capture, Vanderbilt lowered prices and changed the
business climate.

It turns out that New Jersey must be free again — to sell
Teslas. And New Yorkers should be free to rent out their rooms if
they want to. And Uber to drive you where you want to go. The
Invisible Hand of free markets shouldn’t have to spend so much of
its time slapping away the Dead Hand of political
entrepreneurship.


Read the whole thing.


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S.M. Oliva on Capping Medical Malpractice Judgments

On March 13, the Florida Supreme
Court struck down a legislative cap on non-economic damages in
wrongful death cases under the Equal Protection Clause of the
state’s constitution. Attempts to impose such limits on medical
malpractice awards have been a staple of conservative tort reform
efforts for decades. Yet the question of their constitutionality
has divided courts across the country. One side believes
legislatures should not overrule the decisions of judges and juries
with respect to non-economic damages; the other believes judges
should not second-guess the policy determinations made by
legislatures. S.M. Oliva argues that both sides have failed to
address the real problem, which is the inherently arbitrary nature
of non-economic damage awards.

View this article.

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Judge Says Ohio GOP Orchestrated Plot Against Libertarian Party Candidate

A ruling

from a District Court in Ohio
significantly diminishes the
chances of getting a Libertarian Party candidate on the ballot for
the 2014 governor’s race. Interestingly, however, District Judge
Michael H. Watson found it credible that both of the state’s
ruling parties had a hand in either propping up or bringing down
Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl. In his
decision
, Watson wrote that it was “obvious” that the “dupe”
who challenged Earl’s petitions had been used by “operatives or
supporters of the Ohio Republican Party.” Unfortunately, that had
no bearing on the legal issue at hand. 

If Earl gains ballot access, he will run against current
Republican Gov. John Kasich and Democrat Ed Fitzgerald in
November—a situation which many find likely to work out in
Fitzgerald’s favor. A situation which seems to have Ohio Democrats
working to get Earl on the ballot and Ohio Republicans
working to keep him off it. 

As of now, he’s off: Ohio Secretary of State John Husted ruled
in early March that Earl was ineligible due to invalid collection
of petition sigantures (for more about the particulars,
see my post here yesterday
). The Libertarian Party of Ohio
(LPO) responded by seeking a stay of Husted’s ruling in District
Court. District Judge Watson
denied the LPO’s request
 late Wednesday.

Requiring petition circulators to either be of the same party as
a candidate or disclose their employer places “only a minimal
burden on political speech,” wrote Watson. Yet the disclosures “are
substantially related to Ohio’s significant interest in deterring
and detecting fraud in the candidate petition process.”

Though Judge Watson found Earl’s dismissal from the ballot
legally sound, he didn’t buy that the state GOP had nothing to do
with it. Confirming what LPO Communication Director Aaron
Harris told me
about Gregory Felsoci, the “clueless” Akron
man challenging Earl’s petition, Judge Watson called him a
“guileless dupe” whose testimony showed he had no idea what he was
doing. 

“His testimony demonstrates that he lacks even a basic
understanding of the nature of the protest he agreed to sign.
Felsoci repeatedly referred to the misdeed that motivated him to
protest (Earl’s) petitions as the LPO’s gathering of “votes”
without disclosing those who gathered them were being paid to do
so. His decision to act as a protester came about after a
Republican friend, John Musca, showed him an unidentified document
which Musca claimed to have found at a local coffee shop. Felsoci
could not as much as accurately describe the nature of the document
Musca showed him and was at an utter loss to explain why he
believed the truth of the assertions the document contained. He
said he believed it because he read it.” 

Judge Watson also noted that “the Ohio Democratic Party, or its
operatives or supporters, provided assistance to (the LPO) in their
efforts to gather petition signatures.” 

The LPO is making an emergency appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court
of Appeals for the temporary injunction. “While we respect Judge
Watson’s decision to deny our request for a temporary restraining
order against Husted’s decision, we feel that he may be wrong in
this instance,” said
LPO attorney Mark Brown
 in a statement.

Earl himself, however, has a different (and kind of awesome)
take on it. From The Columbus
Dispatch
:

“On the common sense issues I think we should have won,” Earl
said tonight. “But, in another sense as a Libertarian, I would
rather have the judge strictly follow the law now and forever more
so we know exactly what the playing field is going on.”

The LPO is pursing a separate case concerning Libertarian
attorney general candidate Steve Linnabary, whose petitions were
also disqualified by the Secretary of State. The LPO is challenging
the judgement
in the Ohio Supreme Court
on the grounds that the person who
filed the protest to Linnabary’s petition was not a member of the
Libertarian Party, as required. 

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Rand Paul in Berkeley

This week in left/right/libertarian convergence: Sen. Rand Paul
visits Berkeley. The San Francisco Chronicle
reports
:

Jennifer Rubin chimes in to suggest that Paul is insufficiently Reaganesque on the issue of People's Park.Cheered by a youthful audience
in one of the country’s most liberal enclaves, Sen. Rand Paul – one
of the Republican Party’s leading contenders for the White House in
2016 – delivered a scathing rebuke to the U.S. intelligence
community Wednesday, calling it “drunk with power.”

“I don’t know about you, but I’m worried,” the Kentucky senator
told 400 people who filled a hall at UC Berkeley’s International
House. “If the CIA is spying on Congress, who exactly can or will
stop them?”

Paul’s comments come one week after Sen. Dianne Feinstein,
D-Calif., took to the Senate floor to accuse the CIA of illegal
computer searches intended to hinder her Intelligence Committee’s
probe of alleged U.S. torture of terrorism suspects.

Paul said Feinstein’s allegations had shaken Washington. “I look
into the eyes of senators and I think I see real fear,” he said. “I
think I perceive fear of an intelligence community drunk with
power, unrepentant and uninclined to relinquish power.”

He said he had told Feinstein, “‘Great speech, everybody is talking
about it.’ I hope she will stand up, not let the CIA push her
around, not let the NSA push her around.”

For more coverage, read the San Jose Mercury
News

here
and the Washington Post
here
. At different points in his speech, the papers report,
Paul said the GOP should expand its tent on social issues, called
for a new Church Committee to investigate the national security
sate, threw in a reference to Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit
451
, and suggested, in a line that I suspect we’ll be
hearing more about, that it’s “ironic that the first
African-American president has without compunction allowed this
vast exercise of raw power by the NSA,” given the government’s
surveillance of the civil rights movement.

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Isn’t it Ironic: Government Surveillance Version (with Remy)

Remy updates the Alanis Morissette hit for a certain senior
senator from California. 

“Isn’t it Ironic: Government Surveillance Version (with Remy)”
is the latest from Reason TV. Watch above or click the link below
for full text, links, downloadable versions, and more. 

View this article.

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A.M. Links: Ukraine Warns of Russian Invasion, Hillary Clinton Skeptical of Iran Nuke Deal, Taliban Attacks Prison in Afghanistan

  • crimean riverUkraine’s ambassador to the United Nations warned
    that
    Russia
    could be planning an invasion of the eastern and
    southern Ukraine.
    Ukraine
    , meanwhile, appears poised to withdraw all military
    service members and their families from Crimea, even as the
    Ukrainian government insists it will never “stop fighting for the
    liberation of Crimea.”
  • In a speech at the American Jewish Congress, former Secretary
    of State Hillary Clinton said she was “personally skeptical” that a
    deal with
    Iran
    over its nuclear program can be successfully reached.
  • Taliban fighters in
    Afghanistan
    launched an attack on a prison in Jalalabad,
    killing 10 police officers and a civilian. The attack included a
    suicide bomber, multiple bombs, and seven insurgents who were all
    killed in a four-hour firefight.
  • A survey of more than 1,200 business owners found 38 percent
    said they would have to lay off workers if President Barack Obama’s
    proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 passes
    Congress
  • The attorney general of New
    Jersey
     has ordered state police to stop photographing
    protesters at events featuring Governor Chris Christie (R-N.J.)
    under any circumstances.
  • It reportedly costs
    Detroit
    $32 to process a $30 parking ticket, so bankruptcy
    consultants have suggested the city hike parking fines.
  • Former championship-winning Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles
    Lakers coach Phil Jackson accepted an offer to be president of the

    New York
    Knicks, returning to take full control of a team he
    played for in the ’60s and ’70s.

Follow Reason and Reason 24/7 on
Twitter, and like us on Facebook. You
can also get the top stories mailed to
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Nick Gillespie Interviews Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs

Mike Rowe
of Dirty Jobs recently sat down
with Reason‘s Nick Gillespie to discuss the problem
with taxpayer-supported college loans, the importance of a work
ethic, the burden of regulatory compliance, and his own unusual
work history. 

View this article.

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Andrew Napolitano on Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Hypocrisy

Recently, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the
chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, took to the Senate
floor to accuse the CIA of spying on staff members of her committee
while they were examining CIA documents in Virginia. This may be
the first acknowledgment by any senior government official who
walks the halls of the intelligence community that the CIA engages
in domestic spying.

But Feinstein’s outrage at the CIA was for the wrong reasons,
Andrew Napolitano argues. She expressed no outrage over
NSA spying upon her 37 million California constituents (in fact,
she approved it). The behavior that she condemns is the spying on a
dozen persons in another branch of government. You get the picture,
writes Napolitano. Feinstein has no problem with experiments with
American liberties, unless she and her staff are the victims.

View this article.

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Brickbat: Is That a Gun on Your Shirt?

Officials at New
York’s Grand Island High School ordered sophomore Shane Kinney to
turn his NRA T-shirt inside out or change
shirts
. When he refused, they gave him one day in in-school
suspension. School officials refused to speak to a local TV station
about the matter, but in a statement they denied any student had
been suspended for wearing a T-shirt “expressing an opinion of the
NRA or gun control.”

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Tonight on The Independents: Red Meat Wednesday, With Libertarian Porn Star/Student Belle Knox, Greg Gutfeld, Julie Borowski, Greg Lukianoff, and More!

'sup, Rothbard? |||Red Meat
Wednesday
on The
Independents
(Fox Business Network, 9 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. PT)
usually means too many libertarians chasing too few segments.
Tonight is no different.

Kicking off the show is
Fox News double-host
and
rejected Reason intern
Greg Gutfeld (read our
interviews with him from
October 2009
and March
2013
), talking about his spanking new book,
Not Cool: The Hipster Elite and Their War on You
.

Then the Party Panel, consisting of “Progressive Messaging
Expert and all around good guy” Richard Fowler and beloved
Internet libertarian Julie Borowski of
FreedomWorks, talks about the social-issue split between Sen. Rand
Paul (R-Kentucky) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the Democratic
Party’s weak presidential bench, and NASA’s goofy study predicting

civilizational collapse
.

The 18-year-old porn
actress
, Duke University freshman, and self-described
libertarian
Belle Knox
stops by for an interview. Foundation for Individual
Rights in Education President Greg Lukianoff comments on the
outrageous
case
of a UC Santa Barbara Feminist Studies professor seizing
an anti-abortion protester’s sign, calling her a “terrorist,” then
pushing her. Other topics that may or may not come under discussion
include tequila, Hillary Clinton, Bronies, and March Madness
vasectomies.

Did you miss Kennedy’s insane interview with Akon last night?
Here it is:

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