More Interference

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.

Oil, the Saudis, and Iran

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?


…for President Barack Obama’s (D) gun control:GunControl

Even if it is from last October and not post-Obama’s crocodile tears performance this year.

Obama’s New Federal Firearms License Requirement

A Facebook page:ATFLicenses


h/t Grim’s Hall

“China Loses Its Grip on the Yuan”

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.

Greed and Freedom

Greed is not good. And, here is a New Year’s Resolution that we will keep: if you do not end your greed, we will end it for you.

That’s Democratic Party Presidential candidate and Senator Bernie Sanders (D, VT) claims.

Either he’s never read Adam Smith, never heard of the invisible hand, or he finds free markets and the individual freedom engendered by them anathema to his socialism.

Health Insurance and Regulation

Faith-based organizations that share the costs of health care among their members are a tiny part of the health care coverage industry. They’re also not regulated by government.

[Faith-based] ministry officials say they aren’t offering insurance, don’t guarantee claims will be paid, and don’t need to be regulated.

Naturally, regulators object.

But now, some insurance commissioners are concerned that the ministries could put consumers at risk if bills aren’t paid.

This is the consumer’s choice to risk, though, not government’s authority to command not to. At least in a free society.

And more tellingly:

This is…Foolish

More on the question of rebuilding Ramadi.

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.

Rebuilding Ramadi

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.

Bernie Sanders’ Economics

…in one tweet:BernieSandersTweet

What sense is it to price loans with radically different risks at the same interest rate?

Note the deafening silence from his Democratic Party primary contenders. This is the level of economics understanding any of them would inflict on us, were they elected.