Another Outcome of Supreme Court’s Abuse of the Takings Clause

Recall the Takings Clause of our 5th Amendment:

nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Now recall three critical Takings cases decided by the Supreme Court.  Berman v Parker was a 1954 case in which the Supremes explicitly rewrote that clause to say for public purpose, not useHawaii Housing Authority v Midkiff was a 1984 case in which the Supremes ruled that it was perfectly fine for a State government to take private property away from a private enterprise and give it to private citizens who leased the property from the business.  Kelo v City of New London was a 2005 case in which the Supremes said it was jake for a State government to seize a private citizen’s property and give it to a private business for that business’ purposes.

Google’s Boss Testified

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai testified before the House Judiciary Committee earlier this week.  In the course of his testimony, he made some interesting claims.

“Even as we expand into new markets we never forget our American roots,” Mr Pichai said in his opening statement.

Not just roots, though. It’s important that Pichai and his team remember our American culture and values, too.  It’s not at all clear that he/they do.

As an American company, we cherish the values and freedoms that have allowed us to grow and serve so many users.  I am proud to say we do work, and we will continue to work, with the government to keep our country safe and secure.

Brexit Botch

British Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday pulled today’s planned Parliament vote on her Brexit deal with Brussels when it became clear that not even her fellow Tories supported the deal in sufficient numbers to pass.  What’s more, she’s not suggested a new date for the vote, even though something is required to be presented to Parliament by 21 Jan 2019.

The deal as it stands is a terrible one, worse IMNSHO than a plain, unadorned breakout from the European Union.  It represented May’s meek submission to Brussels on nearly every one of their demands—including functional retention of EU immigration “rights” and EU court rulings within what used to be sovereign Great Britain for several years after the British nominal departure.

Still a Foolish Tax

The EU’s usurious digital tax on international tech companies that they had proposed has met with sufficient resistance from low-tax member nations—Ireland and several northern European nations—that France and Germany, the drivers of the proposal, have offered a modified version.  This new effort would

  • limit the tax to a 3% levy on online advertising revenues rather than all online revenues
  • effectively exempt Amazon, AirBnB, and Spotify—a sop to non-EU administrations, especially Trump
  • run until 2025

The beef underlying this drive to tax techs centers on tech firms paying less tax than putatively traditional firms on their EU earnings.

What’s So Hard?

Great Britain is agonizing over how to deal with the People’s Republic of China’s Huawei Technologies Co and the latter’s desire to supply the nation’s 5G mobile network.  On the matter of Huawei’s having supplied the predecessor 4G network, Great Britain thinks it had arrived at “an understanding” with Huawei concerning the latter’s behavior vis-à-vis the installed 4G—which, astonishingly, allowed Huawei to monitor “aspects” of 4G tech.  Britain’s MI6 head, Alex Younger, seems to be the chief agonizer.

5G will by and large be based on Chinese technology, chiefly with Huawei. We need to decide whether we are comfortable with the ownership of these platforms in the case where our allies take quite a definite position…This is not straightforward[.]

Another Free Trade Deal

As Ashley Tellis, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, pointed out, a free trade deal with “Taiwan” would be a Good Thing.  Indeed, that would be a good start, but it really would be better to sign a free trade deal with the Republic of China rather than with an island.

He also pointed out that such a trade deal would go a long way toward easing, if not stopping, the People’s Republic of China’s effort to diplomatically isolate the RoC.

Accordingly, a free-trade agreement would demonstrate American solidarity with Taiwan is just a bit ironic given the thrust of Tellis’ piece.

Second Thoughts?

The New York City city council has decided to hold a series of hearings on the just concluded Amazon HQ2 deal cut with the city.  The council’s beef is the secretive nature of the negotiations between amazon.com and the folks purporting to represent the city.

Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, Economic Development Corp President James Patchett, and Amazon executives have been invited to the hearings, which will take place during the next few months, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s office said Thursday.

There’s nothing wrong with the negotiations themselves being done behind closed doors; that’s the only place “frank and open” discussions can occur.

Paying for Groceries

A farm bill is wending its way through Congress, finally, as the House and Senate have agreed to a common version.  What’s in this version?  Good question.

Lawmakers for months have been deeply divided over the farm bill, which funds crop insurance and farm subsidies, as well as programs to help low-income people pay for groceries.

But these…lawmakers…won’t talk publicly about the details of their compromise.

A Judge’s Ruling on Female Genital Mutilation

Charges related to female genital mutilation were dismissed last week against Detroit doctor Jumana Nagarwala, who has a history of performing such “surgeries.”  Federal District Judge Bernard Friedman, of the Eastern District of Michigan, ruled that Congress had overstepped its authority in passing a law banning this FGM.

Sadly, the judge was right.  That law, passed in 1996, was done under our Constitution’s Commerce Clause, which authorizes Congress to regulate interstate commerce (along with trade with foreign nations and with the Indian Tribes).

However, Friedman wrote,

There Goes the Neighborhood

The EU has decided to put a lid on the cost of phone calls.

The European Parliament has approved new telecommunications rules that will cap prices of intra-EU phone calls….

And those Parliamentarians are proud of themselves for this.  MEP Constanze Krehl, who speaks for the German Social Democratic Party on matters related to telecommunications:

It was high time to cap the sometimes outrageous prices for international calls in the EU[.]

Just like rent controls, though, this will serve only to stifle maintenance and improvement.  Quality will lag and eventually go outright downhill as the cost of providing the service eats more and more into the revenue—now maxed out—gained from providing it.