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Free Minds & Free Markets

Trump May Dabble in Deregulation, But He Doesn't Believe in Free Markets

My head spins.

Before President Trump was elected, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai came on my TV show, upset because President Obama ordered his agency to regulate the internet.

For the first time, "decisions about how the internet works are going to be made by bureaucrats and politicians instead of engineers and innovators," he complained.

Pai was outvoted by Democrats who supported Obama's "net neutrality" rule.

"Neutrality" sounds good, but the rule actually meant the end of the permissionless innovation that allowed American companies to lead the world in cyberinnovation.

Now they would have to get government permission before trying anything new. They would not be allowed to charge big users like Netflix more, or create "fast lanes" for customers who pay extra.

Such experiments do discriminate, but they also bring innovation like free-data plans. They create incentives for building better fiber-optic networks, meaning faster speeds and lower prices for most everyone.

Under Obama's rules, said Pai, we would have "slower speeds, fewer competitive choices. This is a massive shift in favor of government control."

That was then.

Now Pai chairs the FCC, and he's dismantling the burdensome rules. Victory!

President Trump appointed other sensible deregulators: Betsy DeVos, Elaine Chao, Tom Price, Scott Pruitt, Shirley Ybarra. Many of them criticized the same agencies they will now run. They are in a position to say, "Stop! This endless red tape kills opportunity. Let the free market work!"

Bob Poole's fine research on reducing flight delays by replacing the bureaucratic FAA with private air traffic control might actually come to fruition. His ideas on reducing traffic jams by allowing congestion pricing are getting a hearing. Victory! Wiser people are in charge.

But deregulation still won't be easy.

That becomes clear reading Matt Welch's article "The Deregulator?" in the new issue of Reason.

Welch points out that not only did the president appoint deregulators, "Trump put taxpayer money where his mouth is, unveiling a budget blueprint that cut spending at every non-military/security-related agency...31.4 percent from the EPA, 28.7 percent from the State Department, and 20.7 percent each from the departments of Agriculture and Labor."

The bad news is that proposing cuts doesn't mean they will happen. It's Congress that writes budgets.

"The president is asking the most politically sensitive branch of government to approve the deepest funding and staffing cuts the EPA has ever seen," writes Welch, "all while surviving an onslaught of headlines such as the San Francisco Chronicle's 'Trump budget would make America dirty and sick again.'"

Trump's EPA cuts won't make America "dirty and sick," but try un-scaring voters who read headlines like that, along with New York Times diatribes like "Leashes Come Off Wall Street, Gun Sellers, Polluters and More."

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  • buybuydandavis||

    That "Cato Institute, Austrian economics, limited government" stuff has raised living standards across the world.

    Some Americans are more interested in raising living standards in America, and not just in the walled and secure communities of the Ruling Reptiles.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    The difference between poorest and richest 100 years ago dwarfs the same difference today. Are you trolling, serious, sarcastic? I kenna tell.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Are you trolling, serious, sarcastic?

    Poe's Law looms large. I can't tell either, but I'm inclined to assume troll and ignore until proven otherwise. It's safer that way. Avoids a lot of headaches.

  • Microaggressor||

    Its comments on Owners vs Laborers is a telltale sign of Marxist cult membership. Stupidity is real, and it shows up frequently around here. Sorry for your headache.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Yeah, I saw that. Notice I haven't responded directly to it, so no headache :)

    Although it hasn't started flinging shit and trying to stir things up with the folks who have responded to it, so not a very good troll. Certainly not on the same level as Tony or some of our other trolls like AmSoc or PB.

  • Not a True MJG||

    He repeats this spiel regularly. That might be considered trolling, but it seems to be his 'thing.'

  • Diane Merriam||

    *We* are included in that across the world. Just over my lifetime, living standards have way improved, even for the poor.

  • Zeb||

    But some people might not be able to make enough money doing what their parents did. Which is apparently the worst thing ever.

  • Mickey Rat||

    And some people purport to prefer equal misery to unequal prosperity.

    Envy is perhaps the most destructive of the deadly sins.

  • Jerryskids||

    If you're interested in raising only American living standards, go find some American economics and quit culturally appropriating the Austrian. You'll find American economics on the shelf right next to the Soviet economics, just down from the feudalism and the mercantilism, along with all the other failed economic systems designed to glorify the state at the expense of the individual.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Free Market Uber Alles, except...
    Violation of Lockean Proviso
    Corporate limited liability
    Government granted monopolies in "intellectual property"
    Differential tax treatment for wages and capital gains
    Tax on income instead of property

    A lot of rage against violations of the free market. Except when it helps those who Own over those who Labor.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Benjamin Tucker's critique of Herbert Spencer in 1884 applies to most Reason articles:

    It will be noticed that in these later articles, amid his multitudinous illustrations (of which he is as prodigal as ever) of the evils of legislation, he in every instance cites some law passed, ostensibly at least, to protect labor, alleviate suffering, or promote the people's welfare. He demonstrates beyond dispute the lamentable failure in this direction. But never once does he call attention to the far more deadly and deep-seated evils growing out of the innumerable laws creating privilege and sustaining monopoly. You must not protect the weak against the strong, he seems to say, but freely supply all the weapons needed by the strong to oppress the weak. He is greatly shocked that the rich should be directly taxed to support the poor, but that the poor should be indirectly taxed and bled to make the rich richer does not outrage his delicate sensibilities in the least. Poverty is increased by the poor laws, says Mr. Spencer. Granted; but what about the rich laws that caused and still cause the poverty to which the poor laws add? That is by far the more important question; yet Mr. Spencer tries to blink it out of sight.
  • rudehost||

    I missed the part where reason supports policies that sustain monopolies. That is the province of progressives with their local cable monopolies, their expensive professional licensing schemes, their regulations designed to keep small players out of markets and sometimes even direct handouts to their crony pals (see solar). Reason regularly writes articles railing against such protections and handouts to connected people.

    Your fellow travelers on the other hand support that stuff and keep falling over themselves to propose more.

  • Mark22||

    It will be noticed that in these later articles, amid his multitudinous illustrations (of which he is as prodigal as ever) of the evils of legislation, he in every instance cites some law passed, ostensibly at least, to protect labor, alleviate suffering, or promote the people's welfare. He demonstrates beyond dispute the lamentable failure in this direction. But never once does he call attention to the far more deadly and deep-seated evils growing out of the innumerable laws creating privilege and sustaining monopoly.

    What seems to confuse Tucker (and you) is that the "laws to protect labor, alleviate suffering, or promote the people's welfare" are usually the same as the laws that "create privilege and sustain monopoly".

    That's why libertarians don't call for abolishing them separately.

    People who pretend that there are such separate categories of law, one good one for the people the other one bad, are the primary promoters of "deadly and deep-seated evils".

    So: fuck off slaver.

  • sarcasmic||

    You don't understand. When the rich provide jobs, goods and services to the poor they are in fact enslaving those very same poor people. Freedom is an illusion. The poor need those jobs, goods and services to survive. They are in fact forced into needing those things. They are forced to work for the rich and buy stuff from the rich. They have no choice. It's slavery.
    On the other hand, the government is the people. It is how the poor stand up to the rich. Because it is the people, as in us, it isn't force. It is voluntary. We signed that social contract with blood when we were born, remember? So taxes and laws and all of that are all voluntary. There is no force involved. Force is when you voluntarily work for the rich and buy stuff from the rich. Voluntary is when the government forces the rich to pay their fair share (which is never enough by virtue of the fact that they are still rich, if they paid their fair share then they wouldn't be rich anymore).
    Property is theft because the rich don't give it away to the poor, and taxes are voluntary because it is how the poor take back from the rich.
    You see? The rich steal from the poor. Doesn't matter that the poor by definition have nothing to steal. The rich steal from them anyway.

    Or something. My head hurts.

  • Microaggressor||

    Trying to explain the Marxist false dichotomy to a true believer is about as productive as teaching a chimp geometry.

    To a Marxist, anything that could possibly benefit owners of capital must come at the expense of non-owners of capital. Fixed pie fallacy of economics.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    If we didn't teach chimps geometry, we wouldn't have any engineers!

    /engineer.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    @byebye: just curious, have you ever produced anything of value in your life, or do you just rely on others to support you?

  • Aloysious||

    Except when it helps those who Own over those who Labor.

    Those who Labor cannot Own?

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    You know who else broke the chains?

  • I. B. McGinty||

    Erasure?

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    *claps* Got it on the first try!

  • I. B. McGinty||

    Hitler was my second guess.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Morpheus?

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    CRISPR scientists?

  • ||

    Dokken?

  • BearOdinson||

    DAMMIT! I should have thought of that.

  • sarcasmic||

    Greed is never when you want someone else's money. It's only when you want to keep your own money. That's evil.

  • BearOdinson||

    At the risk of being called a Trumpkin, perhaps a better title to this article could have been:

    "Trump isn't always consist on free markets, but has appointed a number of administrators are willing to cut red tape"

    Stossel cited 6 high-level appointees who he states are "deregulators", and discussed Trump's budget proposal which would have significantly cut a lot of areas of government. Then at the end, refers to his Buy American slogan (even though he relented on Keystone), and takes 1 quote regarding Cato, et.al. rather out of context. That quote had more to do with strategy in convincing Americans to get rid of Obamacare rather than disputing that getting rid of it is good.

  • Zeb||

    Trumpkin!!

    Just kidding. I remain cautiously optimistic about Trump's promises to deregulate (and encouraged by a few things that have already happened). I just wish he also wanted to make businesses who have the audacity to want to do business across borders freer and less burdened as well.

  • BearOdinson||

    I agree totally! That is one of the most frustrating things about him.

  • Microaggressor||

    It makes sense if you just realize that he's a typical businessman. He knows the effect regulations have on businesses first hand. He also knows that businesses don't like competition. Competition being the key element of the free market. But businessmen don't care about the free market, their job is to look out for numero uno.

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