A Thought on Student Loans

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is taking steps to redress the Obama administration travesty of a student loan program, but these can only be interim steps and by themselves are entirely insufficient.

Unfortunately, the student loan programs are entirely dysfunctional and want complete revamping. My high-level suggestions:

  1. student loan discharge only via bankruptcy, no special treatment of these loans
  2. let schools and students write their own loan agreements, including interest rates and payback provisions, without Government interference
  3. hold those schools and students to those agreements
  4. if Government guarantees any student loans, do so IAW the following:

Spotify and Crony Capitalism

Spotify AB wants to do an initial stock offering, an IPO, on the New York Stock Exchange, and the company wants to do it without benefit of bank underwriters.  Oddly, the NYSE has to ask the SEC for permission to amend its own rules to allow this.  Even more strange, the SEC is dithering over granting that permission—to allow the private enterprise, the NYSE, to conduct its own business as it sees fit, and more proximately, to allow the private enterprise, Spotify, to conduct its business as it sees fit.  The SEC is claiming, with a straight face, that it has until the middle of February to make up its mind.

Whose Information Is It?

Information belongs to the government of the People’s Republic of China, apparently.  Especially when it’s investment information, information that might facilitate the prosperity of individual citizens and their businesses, information that might lessen their dependence on and control by, that government.

A Chinese quasi-regulator told the country’s top raters of investment funds to stop publicizing the sizes of money-market mutual funds, in what is being seen as another attempt by Beijing to slow the industry’s rapid pace of asset accumulation.

Because an informed investor can make his own decisions instead of the decisions Government wants him to make.

Job Cut Worries

The Left has them in the Department of Education.  It seems that the DoEd is sharply cutting back staff in its Office for Civil Rights.

[C]ritics say the move will blunt the office’s response to issues like sexual assault on college campuses and racial discrimination in public schools.

And

Some civil rights advocates are…saying the buyouts [to encourage departure] are determined by department chiefs who they say are targeting the civil rights office.

I certainly hope so.

Law enforcement and crime, including sexual assault, are matters for the police and the DoJ.  DoJ also has its own civil rights section. DoEd has—or should have—nothing to say on these matters.

Good for Workers, Good for Business

Recall the National Labor Relations Board’s case of a couple of years ago, Browning-Ferris Industries.

Browning-Ferris concerned a recycling center staffed by contractors. The original [NLRB] ruling found the contractors were jointly employed by a staffing firm and Browning-Ferris.

This ruling, if allowed to stand (the case also is in the Federal court system) would have allowed contractors like those at Browning-Ferris, McDonald’s, and any other franchise-centered corporation not only to form unions at individual franchises (which they’ve always been able to do), but also to form a grand union across the corporation.

The Question is a Non Sequitur

John McKinnon and Brent Kendall, in their Wall Street Journal piece, asked Is FTC Up to the Task of Internet Regulation?

His piece is about the split between what the FCC (the erstwhile “regulator” of the Internet, courtesy of the Obama administration) and the FTC are qualified to regulate.

The question is a bit of a non sequitur, though. The Internet is merely a transport medium, and it needs very little regulation. The FTC is fully up to the task of regulating (ideally with a similarly light touch) trade, which is independent of the medium—highway, railroad, snail mail, or electronic—over which the traded products are transported.

Disappearing Insurance

First it was health insurance, dysfunctional as it was, being replaced by the health coverage plan welfare program known as Obamacare.  Now auto insurance is under attack.

New York financial regulators have banned the use of education and occupation as factors in setting auto-insurance premiums….

Never mind that these are useful, if imperfect by themselves, correlates with driving skill and so of insurance risk. The companies accepting the risk transfer by selling a policy don’t get to know that information, they don’t get to assess the level of risk being accepted.  They can’t charge an accurate premium.  That hurts the driver as much or more than it does the insurer.

Individual Mandate and Risk Pools

Louise Radnofsky and Stephanie Armour had a piece in The Wall Street Journal that looked at the small and shrinking impact of removing the Individual Mandate (or more accurately, removing the penalty Supreme Court-created tax imposed for not satisfying the IM) on the health coverage providing industry.  The piece is worth the read, but there was one remark quoted at the end that wants a particular look.

“Making the risk pool stable is a vital part” of keeping individual insurance premiums in line with the overall cost to cover a person insured through a larger group or employer, said Andy Slavitt, a top health official in the Obama administration.

Minimum Wage in San Francisco

City Supervisor Jane Kim, in a recent Letter to the Wall Street Journal Editor sang huzzahs for the city’s $15/hr minimum wage and touted a tax on robots that were replacing those low-skilled workers priced out of the labor market by that minimum wage.

The minimum wage isn’t a pathway to the middle class; it is a safety net to prevent destitution.

And

[A] “robot tax” is a practical way to smooth the transitions caused by automation….

She’s wrong.

I’m sure the robots and kiosks that are replacing those low-skilled workers appreciate being saved from destitution.

That’s the Point

Six months after it went into force, China’s tough new cybersecurity law is still troubling US technology executives who fear that it will put the intellectual property of their companies and the data they collect in jeopardy.

And

…while the law went into effect June 1, the Chinese government is still drafting specific implementation rules.

And

Company and trade-group representatives are also concerned that the network-equipment security reviews could expose proprietary source code, jeopardizing their trade secrets[.]