Regulation

Anti-Liberty Politicians

Doing everything but keeping us safe

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After a terrorist attack, it's natural to ask: What can politicians do to keep us safe?

One thing they could do is actually focus on keeping us safe rather than devoting so much time, energy and hot air to the many things government does instead of protecting lives and property.

My state's politicians are particularly bad. New York's legislators regularly go to jail for taking bribes to pass, or not pass, special regulations.

One recent governor, Eliot Spitzer, perhaps because his rich father gave him money, didn't take bribes (to my knowledge). Instead, he had sex with prostitutes, meanwhile publicly declaring that sex work was "modern-day slavery." He then signed a law that increased penalties for people caught doing it. When Spitzer was caught, he resigned. He's a felon, but he managed to avoid jail.

Today, New Yorkers suffer under a new anti-liberty politician, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. He hasn't been jailed yet, but the public would be better served if he were. Schneiderman pushes "pro-consumer" laws that win media attention while depriving consumers of good choices.

Schneiderman has sought to limit wonderful "sharing economy" innovations like Uber and Airbnb. Home-sharing companies let people rent out their apartments while they're away. Ride-hailing companies efficiently bring together customers and products that might have just sat around unused.

But to Schneiderman (and economically clueless autocrats in some other states), these innovations are dangerous "unregulated" services. Politicians want politicians to decide what you use your property for.

After Airbnb delighted tourists by giving them better and cheaper vacation experiences, Schneiderman issued a press release announcing that he was "aggressively tackling this growing problem."

I suspect his real motive was tackling campaign contributions from hotels and their Democrat-supporting unions. Politicians are also eager to collect hotel taxes, which in New York City, add 15 percent to your bill.

Schneiderman launched his lawyers at Uber, claiming that the company's "surge" pricing violates price-gouging laws.

Calling price increases "gouging" is a way politicians mislead consumers into thinking that government must protect us. But competition protects us from unfair prices better than government ever can.

Uber's ever-changing prices ensure cars are available when consumers most want them. No one is tricked into paying a higher price. It's clearly marked on your phone and passengers are given every chance to decline it.

Attorney General Schneiderman also continued his predecessors' ban on "mixed martial arts" contests. When MMA first became visible, some politicians called it "barbaric" and "unregulated." Several states banned it, a move some politicians make against most anything new and different.

But while states were busy banning it, it became one of the most popular and lucrative sports in America. Smarter states got rid of their bans, but not New York. MMA supporters and the Ultimate Fighting Championship are fighting the ban. May the best man win—and the regulators lose.

And now, after taking campaign contributions from the casino industry, my ambitious attorney general has ordered fantasy football betting companies DraftKings and FanDuel to stop taking bets from New Yorkers. He pompously announced, "Today we have sent a clear message: not in New York and not on my watch."

Schneiderman says that fantasy football involves no skill and thus is gambling—illegal under New York law. His argument is nonsense. The games obviously involve skill—people constantly argue about how wise their picks were.

Either way, who cares? Let people take chances if they want to. New York's own government runs a much worse gambling operation—a state lottery. It clearly involves no skill, preys on poor people and has odds worse than illegal bookies offer.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie got it right when he yelled at an unctuous CNBC moderator during the second Republican presidential debate: "We have ISIS and al-Qaida attacking us, and we're talking about fantasy football?" Exactly.

I dream of a world with fewer regulators.

COPYRIGHT 2015 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS INC.

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  1. I’m sure the Fourth Estate will soon jump all over these examples like they’re the next Watergate and explain to consumers why self-interested politicians and unelected regulators are taking away choices in order to line their own pockets.

    And make no mistake, New Jersey Democrat Chris Christie really meant that fantasy football wagering should be outlawed without wasting time on debate.

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  2. Many people fall victim to overregulation, losing businesses, licenses, property, etc. for failing to meet or follow (often arbitrary) regulations. As if failing to meet regulations is the equivalent of actually harming. These overregulation victims are collateral damage. Same mindset as those who would rather see innocent people incarcerated, to be on the safe side, than let one guilty person go unpunished.

    1. Everyone is a victim of over-regulation. Try and name anything that is not regulated by the state. Sports? Regulated. Clothing? Regulated. Food, food service, food related equipment (pots & pans)? Regulated. Driving, roads, fuel? Regulated. Everything. This IS a police state and you will submit!

  3. To be fair, I think Christie only wanted to stop talking about fantasy football because he couldn’t find a way to relate it to 9/11.

  4. Every dollar the degenerate gamblers spend on Draft Kings and Fan Fuel is one that is not available to be spent on the NYS Lottery.

    Get with the program Stossel!

  5. Uber’s surge pricing model is brilliant. If you really need to go somewhere at that time, you pay the premium. If you don’t, you wait a little bit until drivers come online in an attempt to get some of the surge pricing for their own pockets. Or just use Lyft; they’re likely not both surging at the same time.

    1. It’s hardly original. Airlines and hotels have long used the same idea – it’s call “revenue management” or “yield management.” Also, I saw a recent study that showed Uber’s surge pricing wasn’t working – the pricing changed so quickly that driver’s could take advantage of it. However, I’d bet they have improved it since then.

      1. An edit button would be nice. “so quickly that driver’s *couldn’t* take advantage of it.”

      2. Exactly! I managed a hotel in Park city Utah. Our summer rates averaged $79/night. At the height of ski season and Sundance film festival the same room cost one $289/night. I guess when rates that almost quadruple generate a boom in tax revenue the statists dare not call it “price gouging,” instead it’s just good old fashioned supply and demand.

    2. Same as the time a hurricane wiped out power around a lot of Florida, so entrepreneurs in nearby states tried to haul as many portable generators in as possible… to help the Floridians AND make some money…

      So FL claimed usury and gouging, so the trucks turned around and went home. And Floridians STAYED Without Electricity as a result…

      It seems like all governments can do is create Unintended (lousy) consequences!

      1. Governments enforce laws written by political parties elected by secret ballot in unverifiable elections. To the extent “rights” can be kept meaningless by government control of education and communications–and outright purchase of votes through subidies–the violence of bad laws is protected from change. Crypto and electronic communications are looking like our best hope. Someday rights may again be restored as bioethical claim to freedom of action, and generators will move to where they are needed.

  6. The backlash against Uber and Airbnb is precisely because incumbent interests — hotels, hotel unions, taxi medallion owners, taxi drivers — are getting hurt and aren’t agile enough to change. Or are, ironically, too hamstrung by the regulations they supported to change fast enough…so, really, I guess they just have themselves to blame.

    1. All those businesses use regulations to keep out competition. They LIKE the regulation, they are not harmed by it. Which is why they keep bribing the politicians to keep it in place.

      1. Where the power to threaten lives and livelihoods is legal, pull will be peddled.

    2. You overlook Sumner’s Forgotten Man. Democrats and Republicans put their heads together to see what Citizens can me forced to do for the Lazy and Shiftless: hotels, hotel unions, taxi medallion owners, taxi drivers. Joe Citizen is the Forgotten Man in the original circa 1909 essay. The Forgotten Man is the host the parasites feed upon through the machinations of secret ballots that perforce result in unverifiable outcomes. Honest elections–in which each voter is able to check that his or her vote was tallied as cast–can be counted on to reduce the infestation for the simple reason that we (84%) outnumber them (16%) and enjoy Second Amendment protection. Let the LP come out in favor of honest elections in its platform and electoral politics will again resemble pesticide ads.

  7. I support Airbnb, but it is reasonable to ask them to collect the same overnight room taxes hotels collect. ( I believe that in some other cities they collect such taxes without a fuss.)

    1. Hotel taxes are supposed to cover public services like marketing and certification for hotels. Since AirBnB providers don’t partake in those services, why should they pay for them?

      1. but its all about the revenue. The state get to skim a pile off the top for the “service” of “handling” the money. Helps keep otherwise un- or under-employable state minions off thewelfare rolls. One more form of jigging the books to boost employment statistics. “Look what we’ve done to fix the economy”. Never mind employment stats, show me the value added to society by these jobs.

        1. Goes back to my 33rd Law…

          “The Only Criterion for putting a Tax on something is that the “something” must be Measurable. No other reason is necessary.”

          1. So why not tax taxation itself? Parasitically gorging on the stream of values extorted from the productive by force of arms and violence of law is a major industry in which 16% (parasites) extort from 84% (productively employed) over a third of the GDP. The looter take of GDP jumped from 32% to 38% when the George Bush Jr Administration legalized additional looting via asset forfeiture and called it “sharing.” The resulting financial collapse cut parasitism back down to a third of all products and services. This is still a third more than all levels of government diverted in 1920, when the Laffer Curve measurement was already quite strong. Every vote taken away from totalitarian looter prohibitionist parties by the Libertarian Party is a tax on taxation. It’s the only way short of retaliation to again make These States America.
            Search: “How many government employees are there?” and you will be taken to an 11/14 article in blogs.wsj.com

      2. “…marketing and certification for hotels.”

        Neither one of those is a “public service”.

  8. After a terrorist attack, it’s natural to ask: What can politicians do to keep us safe?

    Perhaps they could act as human shields? Although “comply or these politicians get it” may not be very effective or persuasive, it’s the thought that counts.

    1. Now THIS idea clearly has some merit. How much would you like to hear some politician declare that instead of attacking innocent civilians, ISIL should attack political leaders. THAT would be fucking cool.

    2. I have dibs on Gov. Chris Christie as my human shield!

    3. That’s my kind of altruism. I second the motion–third actually. Erich Marie Remarque beat everyone to the science of finding a use for politicians.

  9. I saw one episode of “Stossel” covering this topic, and he described different “brute-force” economic measures:
    Some states enact a minimum FARE law — i.e., Uber and such services are required to charge a certain minimum. That’s to remove some of their advantages over taxis.
    Likewise, some places have a minimum STAY law — you can’t rent someone’s apartment for a very brief time. Again, it’s to make hotels look more competitive.
    And then there are minimum WAGE laws — just as unjustifiable a brute-force approach to economics, in my opinion.

  10. So basically, you mentioned terrorism just to get folks to click on your rant against some local guy that most of us don’t give a fig about.

  11. The New York Attorney General’s job isn’t to deal with external threats like terrorism. It’s to handle justice-related affairs within the state.

    Just because you don’t like what his job is, or how he carries it out, is not a good justification for thinking he should stop doing it because of something outside of his jurisdiction or zone-of-influence.

  12. But government’s job, particularly at the national level, is NOT to keep us safe. No, itvis the preserve andprotect our rights. They include free association, to move about unhindered. Read aain that Second Article of Ammendment, and it will become clear that the responsibility for “the security of a free state” rests upon the shoulders of THE PEOPLE (militia simply means the whole people) and this is why the right to arms is recognised as falling to THE PEOPLE, and not government. THEY are to keep watch that our rights are prserved. Then WE take care of “the security of a free state”. Uber, MMA, speed limits, state lotteries, horse racing commissions, alcohol regulation/taxing, hotel/motel “regulation’ they none of them have aught to do with “the security of a free state”.

    1. Jefferson thought That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Mencken translated life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as: every man has got a right to live, to come and go as he pleases, and to have a good time whichever way he likes, so long as he don’t interfere with nobody else. This was reworked by Ayn Rand in 1947 to yield the non-aggression principle. William Tell, the Seven Samurai, the Magnificent Seven could all be replaced by communicators able to show folks that every generation that wished for men with guns to threaten people’s lives got just what it deserved. But the best times and places are always where people wish to be free from coercion and mind their own affairs. By induction this should by now be at least as clear as “all men are mortal.”

  13. Schneiderman?! Sounds like a wimpy, weenie, pussy boy, villain from some comedy movie who makes up for his lack of manliness by pushing a pencil and paper at certain people. I bet you he got shoved in alot of trash cans and given swirlies in school and now he’s getting back at all the bullies who used to give him wedgies in the hallway. Did I say how much I hated nanny state types?

  14. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.buzznews99.com

  15. Excellent article, and soooo useful for helping North Americans see the parallels with what already reduced most of South America, Europe and Asia and nearly all of Africa to poverty-stricken slums. The whole notion of rights boils down to a bioethical claim to freedom of uncoercive action. But this is the exact opposite of the officious meddling at gunpoint required by all “moral” systems derived from the naked superstition of faith-based revelation. What is it about unverifiable elections and altruistic parties that reinforces this?

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