Archive for the ‘#commonsense’ Tag

American Guilds   Leave a comment

When I did my series on the Medieval period a while back, I ran across some articles that were critical of capitalism and advocated for a return to the guild system that operated during the Middle Ages. I found it interesting because the commentators were from both the right and the left. Under this system, each occupation had its own guild and all employees and employers belonged to that guild. The guild regulated business particulars like prices, wages, hours of operation, and product quality. It prevented shops from underselling one another and encouraged cooperation over competition. The result was occupational stability. Everybody had a niche in a given line of work.

Image result for image of a guildThe guild system seems superficially plausible, so it seems attractive to some minds. But, remember, I’m a fan of Bastiat, so I have taken to running every economic proposal through the “seen and unseen” filter.

Consider how a guild system must work in practice. For a guild to work properly, certain people who wish to enter a particular trade are denied entry. If a particular guild happened to have a relatively liberal policy of admitting new producers to its craft, it would insist on a minimum price for all goods sold under the guild’s auspices and/or it would limit the amount of the good that any given master was permitted to produce. Whichever of these three control options (high barriers to entry, fixed minimum prices or fixed production quotas) are employed, the outcome results in higher prices and less production than if free entry into the profession, a free-price system, and unrestricted production were allowed.

Aspects of the guild system have existed in our economy in the past and some continue today, with clearly destructive consequences. Perhaps the most obvious example was the National Recovery Administration, established by the New Deal’s National Industrial Recovery Act in 1933. President Roosevelt believed that business competition had to be restricted in order to tame the alleged problem of “overproduction” and to spread among as many firms as possible what consumer demand existed.

I won’t attempt to explain FDR’s economic reasoning. Biographer John T. Flynn noted that “it is entirely possible that no one knew less about that subject than Roosevelt.” (The Roosevelt Myth, c. 1948 [1998] page 116). Roosevelt’s belief in economic fallacies had terrible consequences. The President’s faulty grasp of what caused the Depression led him to introduce a system similar in operation to the old guild structure, with the explicit intention of reducing competition. FDR borrowed heavily from a system established by Mussolini, by the way.

Under the NRA, each industry was “invited” to establish a production code. This code would set minimum wages, minimum prices, and a variety of other regulations to be observed by the firms in that industry. Note that the code established minimum prices. All sellers would have to sell their products for at least the prescribed minimum. This dramatically reduced intensity of economic competition, since with an established minimum price in effect it was not really possible to undersell one’s competitors.

The great New York Times editorial writer Henry Hazlitt had no illusions about the NRA:

[T]he American consumer is to become the victim of a series of trades and industries which, in the name of “fair competition,” will be in effect monopolies, consisting of units that agree not to make too serious an effort to undersell each other; restricting production, fixing prices—doing everything, in fact, that monopolies are formed to do. . . . Instead of a relatively flexible system with some power of adjustment to fluid world economic conditions we shall have an inadjustable structure constantly attempting—at the cost of stagnant business and employment—to resist these conditions.2

You hear this a lot on social media these days. “Businesses shouldn’t compete. They should cooperate.” It’s held up as some sort of ideal economic arrangement. The NRA gave the force of law to producers’ collusion with regard to minimum prices and wages, hours of operation, amount of output, and still other factors, thereby eliminating competition among producers in exactly the same way the guild system did.

The NRA was a complete disaster in practice. First, although such a system would indeed raise prices, such an outcome obviously defeated the program’s other aim of increasing wages, since a rise in prices must reduce the real value of wages. Increases in prices reduce what wages can buy, so at best increased wages keep even with increased prices, so really aren’t an increase. Second, the program produced such an outcry among sensible people that the U.S. Senate finally managed to force FDR into appointing a commission to investigate the NRA. Its report, issued in 1934, described the agency as “harmful, monopolistic, oppressive, grotesque, invasive, fictitious, ghastly, anomalous, preposterous, irresponsible, savage, wolfish.”3  The act establishing it was declared unconstitutional the following year.

The NRA has been gone for a long time, but a great deal of the guild mentality remains in the U.S. economy. We can observe it in the behavior of such organizations as the American Medical Association, the American Bar Association, and others. These organizations lobby the government to institute stiff requirements to acquire a license to practice, and then places obstacles in the path of anyone else who might want to provide medical, legal, or other services. Milton Friedman suggests what is often really at work in such agitation:

The justification offered is always the same: to protect the consumer. However, the reason is demonstrated by observing who lobbies at the state legislature for the imposition or strengthening of licensure. The lobbyists are invariably representatives of the occupation in question rather than of the customers. True enough, plumbers presumably know better than anyone else what their customers need to be protected against. However, it is hard to regard altruistic concern for their customers as the primary motive behind their determined efforts to get legal power to decide who may be a plumber. (Milton and Rose Friedman, 1979, “Free to Choose: A Personal Statement”, Page 229)

The American Medical Association serves to reduce the number of people who can practice medicine, and thereby increases the cost of medical treatment beyond what it would be in a competitive market. According to Clark Havighurst, Duke University Professor of Law, “Professional licensure laws have long made the provision of most personal health services the exclusive province of physicians. Obviously, such regulation limits consumers’ options by forcing them to use highly trained, expensive personnel when other types might serve quite well.”6

Consider Friedman’s description of the guild’s operations:

One effect of restricting entry into occupations through licensure is to create new disciplines: in medicine, osteopathy and chiropractic are examples. Each of these, in turn, has resorted to licensure to try to restrict its numbers. The AMA has engaged in extensive litigation charging chiropractors and osteopaths with the unlicensed practice of medicine, in an attempt to restrict them to as narrow an area as possible. Chiropractors and osteopaths in turn charge other practitioners with the unlicensed practice of chiropractic and osteopathy.7

Yes, I’m sure most members of the AMA believe that such requirements work to the consumer’s benefit by protecting us from substandard medical care, but truthfully, this highlights how interest groups subconsciously conflate their own interests with those of society as a whole. Mancur Olson cautions people to “note that the examinations are almost always imposed only on entrants. If the limits [on entry into the field] were mainly motivated by the interest of patients, older physicians would also be required to pass periodic qualifying examinations to demonstrate that they have kept their medical knowledge up to date.”8 The fact is, studies find that non-physician providers of medical care, such as midwives, nurses, and chiropractors, “can perform many health and medical services traditionally performed by physicians—with comparable health outcomes, lower costs, and high patient satisfaction.”9

Government regulations on the chiropractic profession, lay midwifery, and on the freedom of nurse practitioners to offer services within their competence, all of which make perfect sense from the point of view of the medical guild that lobbied for them, often make no sense at all from the point of view of consumer wishes or from economic considerations. For example, studies have shown that lay midwives have a much lower mother-infant death rate and a substantially lower delivery complication rate than doctors or nurse-midwives, but they remain outlawed in many states. In many cases, non-physician medical professionals can provide health services far more cheaply than can licensed physicians, but consumers are prevented from making their own decisions regarding their medical care. We shouldn’t be surprised to find that the AMA has put so much effort into undermining its professional opposition.

But if the government doesn’t do it, who will keep us safe from unqualified people practicing medicine? Economist George Reisman explains:

[T]he members of the various state medical licensing boards around the country could constitute themselves into private certification agencies and give or withhold their seal of approval to individual medical practitioners on any basis they wished. They would simply lack the power to make the absence of their particular seal of approval the basis of fining or imprisoning anyone who chose to practice medicine without it. The consumers of medical care, who presently retain the right to judge the qualifications of the state governors and legislators who are responsible for the appointment of the members of the medical licensing boards, would decide for themselves the value of certification by this or that organization. . . . Indeed, if ordinary men and women are to be allowed to vote in elections in which their votes ultimately determine the most complex matters of foreign and domestic policy, and thus where their decisions affect not only their own lives and those of their immediate families but also the lives of everyone else in the country, then surely they are entitled to the responsibility of determining matters pertaining exclusively to their own well-being.10

Reisman further observes that if government regulations allowed only automobiles less than five years old on the roads, there would certainly be an overall increase in the quality of automobiles on the roads. But a great many perfectly serviceable automobiles would thereby become unavailable for use at all. The main victims of such a policy would be the poor.11

The legal profession in the United States is also akin to a guild (or could be called a cartel).  Everyone knows that legal services are expensive, but few realize that the barriers to entry erected by what is in effect a lawyers’ guild bear much of the responsibility for that expense. Thanks to the lobbying of bar associations, the only people who may enter the legal profession are those who possess a license from the state, which is available only to those able to afford the extraordinarily costly path of law school and the bar exam. The outcome is the desired one: fewer lawyers, and therefore higher fees.

As with the medical profession, where costs could be dramatically reduced by allowing medical personnel below the rank of physician to perform routine work, paralegals are more than capable of performing a variety of legal tasks that the guild currently reserves for lawyers only. That means people wind up paying a lot more for basic legal services. In 1987, the chairman of the Legal Services Corporation, W. Clark Durant, made an extraordinary address to the American Bar Association in which he suggested that his agency be abolished and that all barriers to competition in the market be removed. One day later, the president of the ABA was calling for Durant’s resignation.

One paralegal in Portland, Oregon, decided that enough was enough. Robin Smith, who worked for several years in a large law office, had grown tired of lawyers charging exorbitant fees that their clients could barely afford, all for work that she herself had done. She opened her own business, People’s Paralegal, Inc., where she and her colleagues offered basic legal services, such as the drafting of common legal documents, at lower prices. Not surprisingly, the guild went into action. People’s Paralegal found itself on the receiving end of a lawsuit by the Oregon State Bar, accusing the firm of violating Oregon’s prohibition on the “unauthorized practice of law.” People’s Paralegal was shut down, and ordered to pay the legal fees incurred by the Oregon State Bar when litigating them out of business!

The guild mentality results in a privileged few reaping abnormally high salaries while the vast majority are made poorer by higher fees. Should anyone attempt to give consumers an alternative to this kind of exploitation, the guild springs into action to quash the challenge. An entire society organized along these lines is scarcely conceivable, but that is what the guild system amounts to.

Lesser examples abound. During the 1990s, 15-year-old Monique Landers of Kansas opened her own African hair-braiding business. Upon returning from a visit to New York, where she was honored as one of five outstanding high school entrepreneurs, she was informed that the state licensing board of Kansas was shutting her down. No customers had complained, but the guild mentality of already existing establishments didn’t like her competing with them. She was told that she could stay in business if she spent a year at a licensed cosmetology school, but few of them teach the particular skill she already possessed, and none of them would admit her prior to her seventeenth birthday. “The Board won’t let me earn my own money, and won’t let kids like me learn to take care of ourselves,” she said. “I think owning your own business is a way of being free.”15

In The State Against Blacks, Walter Williams provides a lengthy catalog of occupational licensure laws and other barriers whose effect is to place overwhelming obstacles in front of those who wish to enter an industry.

For example, to operate a taxi in New York City, a potential driver needs a medallion from the city, which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is impossible to measure how many jobs are destroyed by this kind of behavior, but we can get a sense of how much higher taxi fares are now that Uber is competing with taxis in some markets.

Agriculture provides perhaps the most disgraceful example of what the guild mentality wrought in reality. The federal government’s assistance to farmers has often amounted to encouraging them to destroy (or not plant in the first place) huge stocks of crops, in order to increase their selling prices. This is what a guild would do, though the guild would more likely keep supplies down and prices up by allowing fewer people entry into the guild in the first place, and/or requiring existing guild members to adhere to a production quota. Government is a substantially less far-sighted than guides were.

The costs and consequences of such an antisocial policy are staggering, and are all the more insidious because the beneficiaries of these policies are clear and visible, while the victims are dispersed and largely unaware that an organized cabal is taking advantage of them. Right, that sounds like Henry Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Lesson”, where he stressed the need to assess the outcome of a given policy — to be aware of the long-term consequences for all groups rather than the short-term gains of one group. How many Americans realize that the price they have to pay for sugar and all foods containing sugar as an ingredient is much higher than necessary as a result of a government program?

For most of the 20th century, the price of sugar to Americans was 500% higher than the world price, thanks to government price supports.17  Sugar producers receive an average of $235,000 a year from the policy, but it costs consumers well over $3 billion per year, and it puts all American industries that use sugar at a competitive disadvantage to foreign producers who are not forced to pay such an inflated price for sugar.18  This latter point is always overlooked by opponents of free trade, who in their zeal to protect jobs in Industry X from foreign competition neglect altogether the destructive effects that their preferential policy for Industry X has for Industries A, B, and C that use X as an input in the production of their own products. Job losses in those industries will rarely be attributed to the tariff or other privileges shown to Industry X. Meanwhile, the government can point with pride to the jobs it has “saved.”

What is seen and what is not seen.

Since 1937, as much as 40% of all oranges grown annually in the U.S. have, by law, been destroyed, fed to livestock, or exported in order to raise domestic prices. Think about that the next time you wince at the price of oranges at the grocery store.

Quotas on peanuts effectively double the price of peanuts and peanut butter.

Every dairy cow in America is subsidized to the tune of $700 per year.

All this inefficiency and destruction of wealth impoverishes society as a whole, and hurts  the poor the most. We will never know the full cost of these policies, since many of their costs include jobs never created and businesses never started.

Still, is this really how we’d like our entire economy to be run?

All of these examples of genuine exploitation amount to one of many reasons that free-market economists hold the beliefs that they do. The greater the scope of state activity, the greater the potential for each pressure group to use the state apparatus for its own enrichment, at the expense of the rest of society. Since the benefits that accrue to such pressure groups from their political agitation are sizable and concentrated, while their costs are dispersed and hidden, the tendency over time is for more and more of this kind of activity to go on at the expense of the ordinary person.

Since guilds operate to restrict competition and price cutting, we must expect that the monopoly power of the guilds will have consequences analogous to those of the government favoritism we have just examined. Through a variety of methods, the federal government has granted special privileges to certain industries. In one way or another, these privileges dramatically limit competition, just as the guild system did and would.

Posted June 24, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in economics, Uncategorized

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When Was the Last Time an Actor Assassinated a President?   Leave a comment

I’m not terribly surprised by Johnny Depp suggesting “it’s been a while and maybe it’s time.” He’s never struck me as a particularly intelligent person. Celebrities don’t have to be bright or informed. That’s not their job. Their job is to be entertaining and apparently Depp thought his British audience would be entertained by a suggestion that it’s okay to kill a sitting president. It speaks a great deal about the British audience that they laughed. Seriously, people, you were laughing over the prospect of killing another human being.

It’s a great big stupid world. It’s okay to murder babies (and presidents we don’t like), but we really must save the whale … and the snail darter. (With compliments to Randy Stonehill)

Related imageI’m not worried about Depp actually attempting the murder the president, but people unaccountably listen to celebrities and people do stupid things … like whomever sent suspicious white powder to the woman who won the Georgia special election.

Remember when Jared Loughner shot Gabby Gifford? The news was focused on a campaign ad by Sarah Palin that featured what was said to be gun-sights on various election campaigns around the country. “Oh, it’s all Sarah Palin’s fault! Destroy the Tea Party. They want to assassinate politicians.” It turned out Loughner had never seen the ad and there was absolutely no evidence that his rampage was caused by an affiliation with the Tea Party (he had long rambling posts on social media about admiring the Communist Manifesto). But the stink stuck and there are still liberals who will bring it up in conversation. “The Tea Party caused what happened to Gifford.” No, it didn’t. No one in the Tea Party advocated for anyone to go out and shoot anyone … including the President. We gathered peacefully in parks and along highways to protest the socialization of the country. Mentally ill people had to act upon their own delusional systems to decide to shoot elected officials.

And that is the difference between the Tea Party and the Resistance. The Resistance seems to be actively calling for violence against Trump and anyone who doesn’t see his presidency in the same way they do. Kathy Griffin (beheading Trump), Snoop Dog (shooting president in the head), Madonna (blowing up the White House), Robert DeNiro (I’d like to punch him in the face), Joss Whedon (what he wants a rhino to do to Paul Ryan isn’t acceptable fodder for this blog), Marilyn Manson (killing Trump in music video), Larry Wilmer (suffocating Trump with Scalia’s pillow) and several others have actively engaged in violent rhetoric, sometimes veiled as humor, but all designed to invoke a response both from their own followers and from “the other side.” I find it ironic that people are so worried about hurting the feelings of Muslims by talking honestly about Islamic terrorism or the feelings of transgendered people by using standard pronouns to describe them are okay with suggesting that murdering someone for their political views is fine.

So, if some Squeaky Fromm-like person tries to kill President Trump, Johnny Depp should be put on trial right next to that person, as an accessory before the fact. There are limits to what you can say under the concept of free speech. Shouting fire in a crowded theater and suggesting someone should kill the president are examples of when you cross a line and should pay a penalty. But, hey, my guess is that this will not hurt Depp’s career in the least and should an assassination attempt occur, nobody will remember who planted the idea in the public’s mind.

 

Centrally Controlled Transportation   1 comment

According to a study getting huge attention all over the media, by 2030, only 5 percent of the driving done in the US will be done by people like you and me going where we like, when we like and controlling the car ourselves.

In other words, our personal choices (autonomy) are being replaced by central planners’ choices (tyranny).

Image result for image of autonomous carsNow, don’t get me wrong. Although I still have serious concerns about the safety of so-called “autonomously-driven” cars, I don’t object to them wholesale. They might be a good resource for the blind and disabled. Certainly safer than public transportation for these folks. It’s just that we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that cars programmed by others and so controlled by others and which drive themselves without our input and which are subject to outside intervention contrary to our wishes are “autonomous.” They’re centrally controlled and not by us. That’s anything but “autonomous.”

You and I, when we get behind the wheel of a car, that’s an autonomous act. We choose where we go, when we go and how we go. Inanimate objects are not autonomous and it’s Orewellian doublespeak to treat them as if they are. It’s an inversion of meaning.

According to the media party line, the stampede to turn over our keys and give up our driving autonomy is organic and inevitable. It just makes so much sense, they say, to turn this task over to computers. It’ll be safer and more convenient and it will save energy and … and … and …. Why would anyone but criminals want to still operate their cars themselves? Trust me, sometime between now and 2030, it will be proposed that driving autonomously should be made illegal.

This study smacks of propaganda to me, if only because there are other studies showing that American drivers don’t agree with it, but also because the only thing I can find about RethinkX is by RethinkX and that tells me a lot about them. It appears intended to create the aura of inevitability and the impression that to “cling” to our old self-driving (by ourselves) ways is sad, pathetic and not future-forward.

The real reason people are becoming disillusioned with driving and owning cars is the expense and hassle, the endless rules, fees and mandates … all of which are creations of government. And the reasons given for government to expand access to other-than-ourselves-driven cars speaks to the galloping nannyism that hides behind the guise of “safety”.

Given that the “think tank nobody has heard of” has moved on to the subject of health care, I willing to bet the RethinkX study was funded by interests with the goal of ending American mobility and freedom of movement … in the same way that the ACA and the subsequent AHCA are ending freedom of choice in medical care. The idea of limited mobility (and therefore freedom of movement) is an idea that’s been around at least since Ralph Nader’s war on individual transportation and it has gained traction slowly, but inexorably.  There is an incredibly amount of freedom in being able to go where you want, when you want, and how you want without having to consult with central planners. That’s why individually owned cars are so popular in the United States and why they were typically highly restricted in the former Soviet bloc countries. This is just a way to make it seem like it is our own idea.

“Look at the safety, the convenience, the savings.”

And once we’ve moved over to centrally-controlled cars, we may well find that, if the organization controlling our cars doesn’t want us to go somewhere because it doesn’t like the ideas espoused there, our only choice will be walking … unless they take that away too.

Confessions of an Uninsured Graduate | Marianne March   Leave a comment

A few days ago I donned my gown and my cap with its little gold tassel, and I graduated with highest honors from my college. Now that I am transitioning out of student life, I have many decisions to make. What will I do? Where will I work? What am I going to do without my generous Obamacare stipend?

Image result for image of the happily uninsuredImmediately following high school, I entered the working world as a retail manager. I enjoyed the hard work, the promotions, and the encouragement I received from my supervisors. I was making just enough money to live in a rented 2-bedroom townhouse with a roommate, and my full-time status qualified me for healthcare coverage through the company. At the same time, I longed for work that would be more meaningful for me. I was disinterestedly interviewing to be the manager of my own store when I decided to pursue my education.

My passion for politics steered me towards a degree in policy and economics. For over four years I diligently prepared for exams, listened to several hundred hours of lectures, and participated in group projects that made me wish I could strangle my classmates without repercussions. I also worked part-time jobs, volunteered, interned at three different organizations, and attended a semester abroad.

When I turned 27, I was no longer covered by Mom’s insurance plan. As a student with a low-wage part-time job and the occasional unpaid internship, my tiny income allowed me to qualify for bodacious healthcare stipends. As a wage-earner in the lowest tax bracket, over 90% of my Obamacare costs were covered by a so-called premium tax credit. In 2017, things will be more complicated.

Related imageAs a recent graduate, I imagine myself carving a path in the world with the same patience that the Colorado River took to erode the Grand Canyon: slow and tedious, but not when you think of the intensity of the rapids and the roar of water as the waves pummel through the canyons and stone is forced to make way for water. I am taking a chance and accepting a temporary apprenticeship which excites me and will give me an opportunity to test-drive a career of passion.

At least one person looked me in the eye and urged me to reconsider. After all, I’m 28, I live in my parent’s basement, and I had a post-graduation plan that included dental and a 401k, not a benefit-free six-month gig. I admit it, this choice is a gamble. What am I going to do about money and healthcare? I have six months before student loan collectors come a-knockin’. Sure, there are many jobs that will provide for a closet full of clothes, a pile of bricks, and a matching storage unit. However, this opportunity just might be the onramp to a life that I long for and that I didn’t think was possible.

Unfortunately, as a temporary employee, I am not eligible for benefits like a 401k or employer-generated healthcare. I will receive compensation for my work, but my modest income will render my healthcare stipend to nearly evaporate. I will be earning too much money to keep my government assistance, but earning too little to comfortably afford the monthly premiums. Of course, there is always a choice to make: I can go back to work that is completely unfulfilling but will allow me to pay for healthcare coverage, or I can try to earn less money so that I qualify for support.

I can even shove my fists in my eyes and out-ugly Kim Kardashian’s cry-face, or I can be grateful that my organization is taking a chance on me. I can be happy that, although my financial future is questionable, delayed gratification is the very hallmark of adulting. I can’t know the future, but I believe this is the best move I can make at present.

And so, when the enrollment deadline for HealthCare.gov rolled around, I had another choice to make. My decision is to go without health insurance.

For weeks, I have received emails, automated phone calls, and voicemails, sternly reminding me, “Don’t wait for your monthly health care costs to increase by 50 percent or more in January,” and, “Come back to HealthCare.gov and try to find a less expensive plan.” But the plans are already outrageous. So, last night, at the zero-hour for signing up for healthcare, I decided to go without.

It makes me nervous. I fear the penalty. It seems ridiculous that my choice to pay out of pocket for medical visits will be punished later, and at a rate of 2.5% of my income. I think we can all agree that a monetary penalty would be better spent compensating a doctor, nurse, or dentist for their skills. The incentives are completely out of whack.

Weaning off the government teat is painful, I don’t enjoy the sensation, but there are no satisfying alternatives. So pass the vitamins and kale chips, I can’t afford any illnesses for at least six more months.

Source: Confessions of an Uninsured Graduate | Marianne March

We Manage to Discuss Uber Civilly, Barely   Leave a comment

Alaskans have strong opinions and very few of us subscribe to the idea that you can’t talk about religion or politics in polite society. So this is an article from the Alaska Dispatch News about Alaska being the 50th state to FINALLY allow ride-sharing services to operate here.

https://www.adn.com/business-economy/2017/06/15/uber-and-lyft-are-arriving-in-alaska-heres-what-you-need-to-know/

Image result for image of uberI’m not that interested in the article, mainly because it assumes that Alaskans have not already used these services in the Lower 48. We’re not uneducated troglodytes, but Alice Rogoff and her staff keep insisting we need them to educate us.

My focus is the comments section, which I’ve posted below so you can have an example of the rhetoric the Alexandria shooting was inspired by. I won’t use his name here because I don’t give publicity to murderers, but he was a self-radicalized terrorist who had supped deeply at liberal-progressive hate speech. His social media posts have been taken down now, but some of us read them while they were available.

So, this is an article about ride-sharing. There’s a tiny bit of controversy involved, but it really shouldn’t get people’s panties in a knot. But notice to prickliness of some posters, especially when you question (however mildly) the culturally accepted assumptions.

Dave H

What the cab companies need to know is, “don’t let the door hit your rump on the way out”! Good riddance, pirates!

In reply to Dave H

Lela Markham

It doesn’t seem to have destroyed taxis in other cities, but it has made them pick up their game – cleaner rigs, lower rates, better customer service. There will probably always be people who are willing to support the huge government medallion fee because they think anyone who isn’t background checked, covered by workman’s comp and in radio contact with a dispatcher must be a serial killer looking to kill passengers. Then there are those of us who are willing to forego that because we prefer to spend less and get more and we’re just not that afraid of people. And, that’s fine. In an actual free enterprise system, we should have choices that match our individual wants and needs. And, now we do.

Allen English

What the cab companies need to know is, “don’t let the door hit your rump on the way out”! Good riddance, pirates!

— Dave H

Uber and Lyft pay people to lobby for them on newspaper web sites. Are you one of those?

SpicyMorale

And you think cab companies don’t also do this?

Foster McTeague

New Comment

NorthRick

About time. Calling a cab to take me to the airport always carried an air of uncertainty. Would the dispatcher ever answer the phone? Is the cab going to show up in 5 minutes or 45 minutes? Is it going to be another Crown Vic and get stuck in my driveway, again?

In Reply to North Rick

Foster McTeague

Were you waiting until the last minute to call for a cab? They take appointments. My last trip I called in the afternoon to catch a redeye that night and the cab showed up early. Also you can request for a specific type of vehicle. For example, a minivan or an SUV if you are worried about a steep driveway (and you cannot be bothered to salt/sand it).

New Comment

ProfessorX

Finally. Alaska is, what, the very last state in the union to allow ride sharing? Even years behind several third-world countries with similar services offering nicer cars and lower rates than our local cab cartels? Has this been because our legislators have been extra concerned about Alaskans’ welfare … or the welfare of the cab cartels? Hmmm….

In Reply to ProfessorX

Allen English

Uber and Lyft pay people to lobby for them on newspaper web sites. Are you one of those?

ProfessorX

Nope. I take a lot of taxis for work, usually to and from airports, and when I travel Outside, almost anywhere Outside, I get to take Uber or Lyft. There is no comparison in service, they are different products that both provide rides. I prefer using a smartphone to arrange a ride: it tracks the drivers, payments, destinations, and lets me know arrival times and costs ahead of time with fairly good accuracy. Cars are new and drivers are friendly.

With cabs, who knows what I’m going to get? Maybe calling 15 minutes ahead is sufficient, maybe I need an hour. I can count on the car being old junk and the driver being colorful. Sometimes that’s fine and sometimes it’s gross, like when one driver was cleaning his teeth with is tongue and lips (after taking out his teeth.) He was a character though and was funny. YMMV.

I just want a choice and am happy Alaska is one step further from being a third-world colonial state.

New Comment

russiarulez

Use ALASKA2017 code for $5 credit on Lyft!

Allen English

Uber and Lyft pay people to lobby for them on newspaper web sites. Are you one of those?

SpicyMorale

Use ALASKA2017 code for $5 credit on Lyft!

— russiarulez

Uber is offering $5 off five different rides (as long as they don’t go over $20), starting two minutes ago until June 20th 2017!

Angel Damask

Good idea, but not everyone has (or can afford) a smart phone.

In Reply to Angel Damask

Lela Markham

If you can afford a taxi, you can afford a smart phone. TracFone sells (admittedly annoying) smart phones that will cost you about $10 a month.

FootballField

Good idea, but not everyone has (or can afford) a smart phone.

— Angel Damask

Seriously, if you are poor you can get one for $5/month from Lifeline at GCI. If you are more busted than that you really need to rethink this life.

alaska61flyer

You should rethink your negative comments about people who have nothing football. What exactly are you implying with that comment?

In reply to alaska61flyer

Lela Markham

I’m implying that the poster is implying this is somehow an unfair service because you have to have a smartphone to use it. If you can afford a taxi ($27 from my house to my workplace, 7 miles), you can easily afford a smartphone. I was merely removing the excuse of “only rich people can use this” from the table. It’s not true.

I’m waiting to find out what that ride will cost me with ride-sharing. I think it will be a lot less and therefore more affordable to those of us on a budget.

 New Comment

Lela Markham

Actually free enterprise?

Wow. I thought that would never be seen again. Good going Legislature and Gov. Walker for allowing almost unrestricted free trade.

Foster McTeague

[Actually free enterprise?]

Not in the strict sense. The Legislature gave in to lobbyists and carved out exceptions. The article touched on one:

[Alaska’s new law says they are independent contractors.]

The most bothersome (for me) is the lack of government oversight.

[While the law requires ride-hailing companies to conduct local and national background checks for people who apply to be drivers, and also look into their driving history, there’s no state oversight to make sure businesses actually do this.]

The law also PREVENTS local municipalities from any oversight as well. The taxi industry is arguably one of the most municipally regulated industries in Alaska.

I wouldn’t call it free enterprise when some are favored by the law.

In reply to Foster McTeague

Lela Markham

Um, free enterprise would mean that taxi companies would not be favored anymore than ride-sharing. Until this bill passed, the taxi companies held an industry monopoly. THAT isn’t free enterprise. Allowing ride-sharing services in moves us slightly in the right direction. Government oversight would not be free enterprise. Having to ask permission from a bureaucrat to make a living is basically slavery.

I know that is scary … the idea that individuals might do something in their own interest, but that is what freedom is. Uber and Lyft are free enterprise in action.

New Comment

Sky Killough

Finally a remedy to some extent at least to the traffic problem, air pollution, and golly gee… it creates jobs. Moreover, we might make it to work on time.

muckamuck

Anchorage doesn’t have a traffic problem. If you want to see traffic problems go to Seattle, Portland San Francisco or LA.

James Dickey

Finally a remedy to some extent at least to the traffic problem, air pollution, and golly gee… it creates jobs. Moreover, we might make it to work on time.

— Sky Killough

It doesn’t create any jobs. The drivers are “independent contractors”. They don’t have any protections afforded to actual employees, and the companies are free to exploit them as they see fit.

In Reply to James Dickey in Reply to Sky Killough

Lela Markham

Owning your own business (which is what an independent contractor does) is a job. An independent contractor subscribing to a service that brings business to their door is making use of a good business practice. A friend of mine who used to drive taxi in Seattle has been driving Uber for several years now, also in Seattle. He says he makes a lot more money as an independent contractor, even adjusting for maintenance costs on his vehicle and having to buy commercial insurance. His wife’s job pays for their health insurance and my friend pays for a liability insurance policy that works a lot like workers comp. If Uber/Lyft drivers treat it like a business, they come out ahead of the employees of taxi companies.

Starting your own business creates a job for the business owner.

 New Comment

Bubba Cat

This is interesting news, alright. I went back over the article for something about the vehicles, insurance, driver background checks, etc. but I didn’t find much. I was struck by the fact that the vehicle must have four doors, though. I hate it when there’s a door missing. Cold and windy…

 New Comment

Allen English

It’s discouraging that posters here don’t get the crony capitalism aspect of this bill. For those of you who claim that there is such a thing as a free market, here’s evidence that there isn’t. Including the posters who are paid by Uber/Lyft etc to troll web sites for articles like this.

In Reply to Allen English

muckamuck

Where is the evidence?

How much is the taxi industry paying you to troll web sites for articles like this?

Lela Markham

It’s discouraging that posters here don’t get the crony capitalism aspect of this bill. For those of you who claim that there is such a thing as a free market, here’s evidence that there isn’t….

— Allen English

 

Nobody is paying me, but I fail to see how this is any more crony capitalism than the taxi companies holding an industry monopoly. THAT is crony capitalism. They went to government many decades ago and asked for and received a monopoly. Here in Fairbanks, two companies own pretty much all the taxi companies and getting a medallion prices most people out of the market.

Private contractors signing up for a ride-sharing service that people voluntarily use in place of taxis is competition to the crony capitalists.

It is leading to less monopoly. Just explaining the economics here.

New Comment

WhiteDragon

Thank you representatives and governor for helping keep young women safe. Many women have been hurt from people offering rides at night after they gave up waiting on a cab. A disgusting crazy individual was recently convicted for trolling the bars near closing that was offering rides to women. He raped and beat many women before he got caught. Peaceful Warriors for years were helping individuals get home safely and are truly glad someone was finally listening. There is now a police force walking the downtown streets last November and now more transportation. Thank you for looking out for women in our state and not taxi’s profits. Love to you all. Alaskan Women Get ER Done!

New Comment 

jimb

Plain old taxi has always worked well for me in Anchorage. They’ve been very reliable, although we live close to the airport and that may help. Best wishes to folks driving taxis, Uber, and Lyft. In New York I used Via; they were really good. I appreciate my Senator Costello– she’s a good person and next (I hope) on her itinerary will be helping unplug the fiscal logjam between the house and senate, working with other good folks like Tom Begich and the Senate Minority, and my representative Jason Grenn who is part of the House Majority.

New Comment

meanwhile

Cool, I guess. A new thing from outside that I never used or needed before, and will continue to never use or need.

In Reply to meanwhile

Joe Willow

Cool. A new thing from outside that I have used all over the US and overseas that works well. Happy to see that I now have a new transportation option in Alaska.

muckamuck

Cool, I guess. A new thing from outside that I never used or needed before, and will continue to never use or need.

— meanwhile

Do you ever take a taxi to an airport inside Alaska or out?

ProfessorX

Cool, I guess. A new thing from outside that I never used or needed before, and will continue to never use or need.

— meanwhile

 

I bet you’re fun at parties.

meanwhile (in reply to muckamuck)

Do you ever take a taxi to an airport inside Alaska or out?

— muckamuck

Yup! And they’ve always worked very well. Were your experiences with taxis bad? If so, I can understand how having a different option has an appeal.

muckamuck (in reply to meanwhile)

My experience with taxis is bad. You call and you never know when they will come. You watch the clock anxiously wondering if you’re going to miss your flight. With Uber and Lyft, you get a fairly accurate ETA, and can see where the ride is as it moves toward you. You also get a price estimate.

Taxi’s are usually some dingy old car with seats with no support. The drivers are not friendly. Not so with ride sharing services. Uber and Lyft rides are automatically charged to your credit card. No fumbling with cash or swiping your card, necessary.

I suggest you give them a try. I’m sure you will find it a better experience than a taxi.

Rock DeAugustine (in response to meanwhile)

Yup! And they’ve always worked very well. Were your experiences with taxis bad? If so, I can understand how having a different option has an appeal.

— meanwhile

 

Alaska cabs are extortionist and Yellow specifically has incredibly bad service. Uber and Lyft are half the price and way quicker

Fred Willis in reply to meanwhile

Cool, I guess. A new thing from outside that I never used or needed before, and will continue to never use or need.

— meanwhile

 

They got these things called flush toilets outside as well which you may never use or need but hear they are a step forward…I guess.

Allen English (in reply to Rock DeAugustine)

Alaska cabs are extortionist and Yellow specifically has incredibly bad service. Uber and Lyft are half the price and way quicker

— Rock DeAugustine

 

Uber and Lyft pay people to lobby for them on newspaper web sites. Are you one of those?

 

SpicyMorale (in reply to Rock DeAugustine)

 

Alaska cabs are extortionist and Yellow specifically has incredibly bad service. Uber and Lyft are half the price and way quicker

— Rock DeAugustine

 

Not too mention they used to listen to Checker’s radio feed, to steal rides.

Rock DeAugustine (in response to Allen English)

Uber and Lyft pay people to lobby for them on newspaper web sites. Are you one of those?

— Allen English

 

ha no, I’m someone who has used them extensively in the US and Europe

 

New Comment

Alaska Jim

Lyft launched at FAI today. I guess ADN forgot to investigate, as usual. Great job!

New Comment

Lou Skizas

” Lyft launched in Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks as soon as the bill was signed on Thursday.”

I mean, that’s exactly what the article says, Jim.

Alaska Jim

Ewww you got me, not. FAI is not Fairbanks. It is an airport code for the airport. Please think before you comment. It’s ok. Anyhow The article said they will be allowed to enter into agreements with the airports (future tense). Please read the final 2 paragraphs. They’ve already started. Take care.

Jimmy R (in reply to Alaska Jim)

” Lyft launched in Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks as soon as the bill was signed on Thursday.” I mean, that’s exactly what the article says, Jim.

— Lou Skizas

Pretty sure he’s taking about FAI (the Fairbanks airport), which the article said was “conning soon, after more negotiations”, and which Alaska Jim claims already happened. So, no… not exactly what the article said.

Heywhawn123 (in Reply to Jimmy R)

Conning lol

 

New Comment

The truth is upon us

Checker & Alaska Yellow are history.

New Comment

AndyAK

Lyft Promo Code for some $$ discount: STATE49

In Reply to AndyAK

Allen English

Uber and Lyft pay people to lobby for them on newspaper web sites. Are you one of those?

 

SpicyMorale

Lyft Promo Code for some $$ discount: STATE49

— AndyAK

 

I used ALASKA2017, uhh.

AndyAK (In Reply to Allen English)

Uber and Lyft pay people to lobby for them on newspaper web sites. Are you one of those?

— Allen English

 

I wish they paid))..

STATE49 is the promo code for discount when u install the app.. it may be used by more then one person. Thats why I am sharing it..

New Comment

 

Barbara Bachmeier 160

Anchorage taxi companies charge a customer $1.00 just for using a credit card. If the fare is $10.00 or $100.00, there is an additional charge of $1.00 and I think this is wrong. Uber and Lyft will not do this. Another point in favor of choosing ride hailing alternatives!

New Comment

Power

Boom! I’m going out tonight …

 New Comment

Heywhawn123

As a driver of those, you will be an independent contractor. You have to keep track of all your mileage so you will be able to write them off come tax time. You will get a 1099 not a w-2. Any maintenance done to your car, keep track of Everything so u can write them off.

New Comment

Jill Cole

Taxi ride for me to airport is 23-25.00 for 8 mile trip. Plus tip.

I had 2 different taxi drivers tell me they will become Uber drivers as they hope to make more money than driving a leased cab.

New Comment

ProfessorX

This will be Representative Adam “Anti Faculty” Wool’s signature accomplishment: legalizing cheap rides to his bar! (Which is for sale, by the way.)

Now that that priority has been taken care of, maybe they can move on to the budget and education issues.

So, I’ll follow up with the comments from another article that really set off the rage.

Turtle God   Leave a comment

Image result for image of climate change debunkedOkay, I found this meme and I had to post it because it was on one of those sites that pokes fun at “expert” skeptics. Some of us just refuse to accept the “expert” opinion as THE TRUTH because we have become aware that “experts” are affected by their own presuppositions and their opinions can also be bought by the highest bidder or the group offering the most prestige. Forty years ago, scientists were convinced we were hurtling toward the next ice age because of pollution. What happened to that theory? It didn’t pan out, so they changed their rap to global warming. Now that isn’t panning out so they want us to panic over “global climate change.” But the climate has been changing since the Fall. Why do we think it’s going to stop if we sacrifice our economy to it?

Related imageBut the main reason I posted this meme is that the turtle is the totem animal of the Wendat people, called variously Wyndake and Wyandot. My husband found a jade turtle at an antique shop and he brought it home. The Wendat peoples believed that the world was built on the back of a turtle. It explained earthquakes and other issues. It wasn’t correct and I don’t believe in the sacred turtle. That would be idol worship … just like putting my faith in science or the State.

 

The Battle of Berkeley 4: Peace and Another Victory for the Deplorables   Leave a comment

By

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2017/05/jack-kerwick/peaceful-victory-deplorables/

Image result for battle of berkeley riotIn February, the terrorist wing of the Democrat Party, the so-called “anti-fa” (“antifascist”), rioted at University of California at Berkeley in order to prevent Milo Yiannopoulos from delivering a speech.  The anti-American leftist thugs randomly assaulted innocents, threw Molotov cocktails, clashed with police, and smashed windows.  By the time it was all said and done, they had caused well over $100,000 worth of property damage.

This is now being regarded as the first Battle for Berkeley.  And the left won.

In March, a pro-Trump rally was held once more at the home of the so-called “free speech movement.”  It was here that the world was introduced to Kyle Chapman, aka, “the Based Stickman.”  The latter, along with several other patriots who were disgusted at the sight of rabid leftists beating up innocents while the police did absolutely nothing, came prepared to do battle. In spite of being outnumbered, Chapman and his brothers-in-arms protected innocents and held their ground.

Current Prices on popular forms of Gold Bullion

Physically speaking, the second Battle for Berkeley was a draw of sorts.  However, the Stickman instantly became an internet sensation, a meme that went viral. Psychologically speaking, this battle was a victory for the right, for the Stickman symbolized for countless numbers that if only American patriots would dare to stand up to leftist thugs, they could and would prevail.

On April 15, the Patriots held one more rally at Berkeley.  The “anti-fa” arrived in large numbers. They were armed with every weapon short of a gun.  The police, under the order of a leftist mayor, again stood down.

Only this time, the Patriots descended upon Berkeley in numbers dwarfing those that had appeared in the past. Though they had been disarmed by police, they had their helmets and shields.

And they were pissed.

When the anti-Americans charged, the Patriots fought back.  They inflicted a humiliating—though richly deserved—beating upon the terrorists before chasing them from their home, the heart of Leftism.

Footage of the Battle of Berkeley 3 is all over the internet.  Even the anti-American leftists had no option but to acknowledge that they lost.  The right achieved a glorious victory, both physically and psychologically.

When Ann Coulter ultimately backed out of the speech that she swore she would deliver at Berkeley on Thursday, April 27, many of those Patriots who traveled from across the country to support her were, at the very least, disappointed.  Coulter gave conflicting reasons for her reversal: (1) The Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), which was supposed to sponsor her, tucked its tail between its legs and ran; and (2) She didn’t trust Berkeley administrators and police to protect her.

Neither of these excuses passes the smell test.

Coulter is a woman of means. She could have easily arranged to speak on her own dime—as did many others, folks with far fewer resources than Ann possesses, who came to Berkeley on the 27th to speak in her place. As far as protection goes, she knew in advance that legions of patriots had planned on being in Berkeley to safeguard her and the right of all Americans to self-expression.

Coulter hinted that she may still swing by Berkeley to say “hello” to her supporters.  She didn’t even do that much.  She should have.

By all accounts, thankfully, no one was harmed.  Remarkably, there was no violence.

The “anti-fa” was present.  So too, though, were the Patriots—the Proud Boys, Bikers for Trump, Civil Defense Action, the Oath Keepers, the Three Percenters. And the latter were ready to defend themselves and innocents if the police had planned on following what had become their standard operating procedure.

Yet—surprise, surprise!—the police were proactive this time around.  They were actually acting like cops!  I think I know why.

While I have no proof of this, it is my suspicion that the mayor of Berkeley, an alleged member of BAMN (“By Any Means Necessary”) and an “anti-fa” sympathizer, had arranged for the police to stand down as long as he was confident that his ideological ilk would run roughshod over his political opponents.  In other words, the left knows and has known that the key to defeating the rest of us—the key to “fundamentally transforming” the culture, to borrow a term that Barack Obama infamously used—is to drive themselves into its collective consciousness.

To put it more exactly, leftists have known that through threats and exhibitions of violence, it can instill fear in the psyches of those who they want to either “transform” or otherwise silence.  So, for example, if enough Trump supporters and/or conservative Americans see their compatriots having the snot beaten out of them, leftists think, then the Deplorables will grow demoralized.

Thus, it is good politics, with all of the psychological warfare that this entails, for the rest of the country to witness Berkeley in flames and folks with MAGA hats and American flags getting battered.

But what happens when those Deplorables fight back?  What happens when those Deplorables not only fight back, but turn the tables on their assailants?  The video of the MAGA-hat and American flag sporting men, dressed as warriors, beating and running the anti-American left out of Berkeley, of all places, is terrible political theater from the militant left’s perspective.

Worse, it is the Deplorables who reaped the psychic gains.

Things being what they are, it is my guess that the mayor and his fellow ideologues decided that they didn’t want to risk another humiliating defeat. After all, they knew that the Deplorables had every intention of fighting back with all of the tenacity that they displayed the last time around—and maybe even more.

The Battle of Berkeley 4, though a cold confrontation, was another victory for patriots.  The Deplorables entered the belly of the beast, said what they came to say, and left unscathed.

To repeat, this was another psychological win.

As most of us learned when we were but children, when bullies are made to swallow a dose of their own medicine, they are more likely to whistle a different tune.

Some of the punks in Berkeley may be learning the hard way.  The terrorist left in general, on the other hand, is far from having learned its lesson.  But they will, for as long as they insist upon attacking innocents, the ranks of right-wingers who are willing and able to fight back will continue to swell.

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