My Latest

Friday, October 31, 2008

Will Maryland Government Enter the Gambling Industry?

My October 31 Examiner column on the proposal to establish video gambling in Maryland:

Some characterize this initiative as “legalizing video lotteries,” as if the government were proposing to simply lift its existing ban. But it is instead a big-government program. Video lotteries in Maryland won’t be private businesses that pay taxes—they will be effectively a government program administered in part by private companies.

The House Ways and Means committee in Annapolis explained the video lottery industry’s status in language that could have come out of the Soviet Union or Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan: “If the State decides to legalize an activity currently prohibited, the revenues from this activity belong to the State. It is then the decision of the State as to how to appropriately allocate the revenues.”

The state’s strict control over the industry points to other potential unsavory business-government cooperation. The amendment would limit the number of terminals, meaning the current gaming giants would get their licenses and be confident that no competitors could cut into their racket. Nice work if you can get it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Free All of the Joe the Plumbers

My October 24 Washington Examiner column on Joe the Plumber and licensing laws as cartels:
Liberal bloggers and mainstream journalists have pegged it as scandalous or mock-worthy that Joe is engaging in unlicensed plumbing. Instead we should be asking why the City of Toledo, Ohio, or any city, county, or state, is justified telling its citizens whom they can or cannot hire to fix a leaky pipe.
You can read the whole column here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Obama and Big Business vs. a freer health insurance market

My October 17 Washington Examiner column on McCain's plan to end special treatment of employers-sponsored health benefits:
The New York Times reported that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable didn't like the idea of people breaking free from their employer for healthcare. "To some in the business community, this is very discomforting," Chamber lobbyist Bruce Josten told the Times.

Of course it's discomforting—it could spur entrepreneurship and boost employee independence. Currently, the tax code punishes you for finding health care outside of your employer, which makes you more likely to stay in your current job, which gives your employer more control over you. Rejected for a raise? You still can't leave because you need health care. Want to strike out on your own? How will you afford health care for yourself and your employees?
Read the whole thing here

Friday, October 10, 2008

Obama hangs out fly-paper for lobbyists

My Washington Examiner column for October 10 discusses Obama's coziness with Wall Street:

On Tuesday night, in the second debate, Obama answered a question on the economy by stating, “we’re going to have to change the culture in Washington so that lobbyists and special interests aren’t driving the process and your voices aren’t being drowned out.” He’s absolutely correct. Wall Street and banks have outsize influence in Washington, driving policies (pushed by both parties) that helped lead to our current mess.

But Obama is pretty cozy with those industries: According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Obama has received more than John McCain in donations from commercial banks ($2.4 million to $2.1 million), hedge funds and private equity ($2.2 million to $1.5 million), and securities and investment ($10.9 million to $7.6 million). Obama’s lead over McCain in this last category (which is basically Wall Street) is more than twice all the money ($914,000) McCain has taken from lobbyists.

The top two Wall Street donors this cycle, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, have both favored Obama—Goldman by a three-to-one ratio. Of course, Obama is the second-leading recipient of Fannie Mae money in history.

Read the whole thing here.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Protectionism for Wall Street

My October 3, 2008 Washington Examiner column explains what the Wall Street bailout is really about.

I guess we only call it protectionism when it’s men in hardhats who are at risk of losing jobs. When it’s men in pinstriped suits worried that their industry might dry up, we call it “stabilization.”

Protectionism is the right word for the bailout the House is voting on today. Without a bailout, we are told by the people who got us into this mess, the entire economy would melt down. Pittsburgh steel workers also told us that without a domestic steel industry, all of America would suffer.

Read the whole thing here.