The Obama administration is proposing to spend nearly $4 billion in a decade to accelerate the acceptance of driverless cars on US roads and curb traffic fatalities and travel delays.
No. The Congress needs to refuse to provide the funding for this.
Leave aside whether we want driverless cars on our roads. There’s an arguably positive role for government to actively support, even help fund, basic research. However, once the theory from such basic research has been developed sufficiently (a private enterprise-defined criterion), bringing any related concepts to market is purely an engineering matter and so must be solely a free market/producer/consumer decision. The work, then, should be funded only by private enterprise.
As global oil prices plunge to levels not seen in more than a decade—and Saudi Arabia and Iran threaten to further flood the market with cheap crude as part of their ongoing feud—the possibility of rock-bottom fuel prices appears to be a blessing for consumers.
What’s the downside of that? With our own restriction on exporting oil lifted, we’re also in a position to keep producing and keep selling. The low prices are good for American consumers; they’re an opportunity to expand our own market (the Saudis’ logic in maintaining production rates in the face of falling prices is sound), and thereby wean Europe off dependence on Russian oil exports; and low prices hurts…whom?
That’s the title of a Wednesday Wall Street Journal article at the time I write this, and I’m not sure it’s far wrong. This is the currency, too, that the IMF decided belonged in its basket of reserve currencies.
The yuan is having quite a number of troubles, courtesy of the PRC’s efforts to retain its (non-market) control. Two of these include
“People are losing confidence [in the yuan],” said Cynthia Wong, head of emerging Asia trading in Hong Kong and Singapore at Société Générale. “Positive hopes diminished with the stock-market crash at the beginning of the year…. She described the flow in the currency market as “one-way,” with investors betting on a weaker yuan.
The US government and some of its allies said last week they had contributed $50 million toward a United Nations “stabilization fund” meant to rebuild the country—months after a similar $8.3 million pledge from the United States Agency for International Development.
Even if the UN (and the USAID) were honest thieves, this is just too much middle-man-ery, with too many intervening steps in which to siphon off the money. The funds—and future funds—are better given as loans directly to the Iraqi government, hard-coded for the Ramadi rebuild. Of course, that also assumes the Iraqi government under Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi can be trusted not to siphon, also.
When Iraq’s prime minister holds a meeting on Monday to discuss the monumental task of rebuilding the recently liberated city of Ramadi, officials will encounter a grim pattern: each time Islamic State is uprooted, the battles and the group’s tactics leave behind a legacy of destruction that will linger for years.
They would do well to learn from Germany and Japan about how to rebuild, not only shattered cities, but shattered nations and economies. Both of those were prospering nations just a few short years after World War II.