How Convenient: Trump’s Environmental Stance May Harm Six Year Old Girls

Claire’s, the cosmetic and accessories company for young women, recently recalled nine cosmetic products because a mother had tested her six-year-old daughter’s makeup kit containing lip gloss and eyeshadow and said she found tremolite asbestos.

“I physically sank,” said [Kristi] Warner. “I ended up sitting on the ground, just trying to wrap my head around how something like that could end up in our home.”

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Markets, Not the Governing Elite, Secure Life, Liberty, and Prosperity

A recent article by the Niskanen Center tries to make the case that regulations should be considered beneficial unless proven otherwise.

The thing is is that we don’t need data to understand whether the effects caused by regulation are on balance good or bad. Liberty tells us that the cumulative effect of regulations will be harmful because they interfere with voluntary Image result for governing eliteexchange in the market. Humans act in their own perceived self-interest. Regulations seek to replace the outcomes of the billions of transactions and interactions market by millions of people with the outcomes preferred by a few hundred or thousand regulators and rent seekers.

Von Mises and Hayek both demonstrated the problem with that; in addition to the violence of forcing people to accept outcomes they do not want, regulation eliminates the vast majority of available information within a market, thus making the outcome much less efficient. That’s why socialism doesn’t work, and why the Soviet Union collapsed.

The opposite of the position of this paper is what is true: regulations should not be adopted or maintained unless it is proven there is a need for them. And determining the need for them should be based on whether they secure life and liberty. Then people–rather than a few intellectual elites–can use markets and courts can figure it out from there.

Cronyism & Comcast

Comcast is in the process of buying Time Warner Cable, a deal that will create the largest cable provider in the U.S.

The FCC, of course, has to approve the deal. It is no surprise that Comcast and Time Warner Cable have done their best to grease the wheels for approval through political donations and programming.

However, a recent column  by Matthew Continetti  on NRO leads conservatives in the wrong direction on both cronyism and public policy.

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Let’s Break Up Tiger Woods

In the aftermath of Tiger Woods’ dominant victory in the recent American Express Championship golf tournament, a number of Wood’s competitors announced they will be asking the U.S. Department of Justice to file suit seeking the breakup of Woods for violating federal antitrust laws.

“He’s dominating the game,” said Adam Scott, who finished second, eight shots back of Woods. “It’s not the first time he’s done it, either. We need to take steps now to ensure that the game remains competitive.”

After finishing in fifth place, Ernie Els, one of golf’s top players, joined in with those who said something must be done.

“Tiger just doesn’t understand how abusive he is of his monopoly position,” said Els. “He unduly pressures and intimidates competitors and potential competitors.”

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Making Electricity More Expensive

Tuesday’s hearing by the Texas Senate Business and Commerce Committee helped shine some light on the challenges of Texas’ green energy efforts.

While we heard great things about the state’s energy efficiency program, we didn’t hear how much the program costs consumers–so i helped out with some testimony. Since 2002, Texas consumers have paid $591.1 million to support the state’s energy efficiency program, and the program’s estimated cost for 2010 is $114.8 million. A recent increase to the program by the Public Utility Commission of Texas will probably double these costs. And legislative proposals could increase the annual cost to over $500 million.

All of this would be okay, of course, if the state’s energy efficiency program saved consumers money through reduced consumption of electricity. However, there is simply no way to properly determine the efficiency of the state’s energy efficiency program. But an educated guess is that it costs more than it saves.

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When the Going Gets Tough, Let the Government Handle it

Plano Lowers the Cost of Living

It is not often that governments voluntarily reduces fees or taxes. So when one does, it is worth taking a closer look.

Last month, Plano voted to eliminate impact fees on developers building new homes and businesses. The fees were charged based on the size of the water meter for the project, and typically ran from $1,000 to $2,000 for a typical home, but could go as high as $95,000 for the largest meters. The money was then used to build additional infrastructure for the city. But as new construction has slowed in Plano, the city is looking for ways to make it less expensive for people to live in.

Taken by themselves, impact fees could be seen as a user fee, which is one of the better ways for governments to raise money. Use a service, pay a fee. That is what makes toll roads so appealing from a market perspective. But user fees are only good if used instead of general taxation, replacing the tax revenue rather than supplementing it.

I don’t know which route Plano took, but the good news now is at least its city council members acknowledge the fact that fees and taxes make living their more expensive—not for the developers, but for the people who live there and ultimately have to bear these costs.

Consumer Protection Usually Doesn’t Live Up to its Name

It seems as if the folks in Washington don’t have enough to do with taking over the American financial, automobile, and health care industries. The talk now is about creating a new consumer protection agency to “protect … the financial well-being of American consumers.”

While this may sound like a good cause, a review of the recently adjourned 81st Texas Legislature raises the question whether government “protection” helps or harms the financial well-being of consumers.

The big news this session was what didn’t happen. Politics in the waning days of session killed hundreds of bills. So-called consumer groups bemoaned the loss of many of them, also assigning blame to big business.

One advocate crystallized the perspective of these groups when he said that this session amounted to “nibbling around the edges without making any fundamental changes that will really improve the lives of Texas consumers.”

The truth of the matter, however, is that consumers fared pretty well this session. And the reason for this is because all the Legislature did was “nibble around the edges.”

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TX Legislature in Review: Financial Regulation

It is not high finance, but short-term lending helps a lot of consumers out of tight places. This session, multiple bills would have significantly reduced or banned short-term lending.

Banks and credit unions generally won’t make short-term loans, so people in need of quick access to funds have to turn higher cost alternatives. While critics claim these higher fees harm consumers, many short-term borrowers could have been devastated if the Legislature had banned these loans.

The higher fees are necessitated in part by the small size of the loans but also driven by consumer demand.

This post was first published by the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

TX Legislature in Review: Electricity and Renewable Energy

Most of the electricity bills this session had one thing in common—they were going to make electricity more expensive for Texas consumers or taxpayers. Fortunately, most of them didn’t pass.

The major bill that did pass provided incentives, i.e. subsidies, for electricity generation plants equipped with carbon capture technology. But it may not wind up costing consumers anything, since the technology for carbon capture is so expensive that even subsidies may not make such a project feasible.

Consumers were saved from at least tens of millions of dollars in increased electricity rates when several renewable energy and energy efficiency bills died at the end of session. Though there is talk of including solar subsidies on the call for the upcoming special session—the Center will be releasing a paper on this issue detailing the high cost of solar.

This post was first published by the Texas Public Policy Foundation.