The Wall Street Journal offers a good take down of the arguments for the Export-Import Bank, which the House just reauthorized for another 6 months. One irony in this debate, which the Journal notes: many on the left, including the Obama administration, Elizabeth Warren, and Nancy Pelosi, support the Ex-Im bank despite their real antipathy for business and their professed antipathy for “the rich” obtaining benefits at the expense of everyone else. As the Journal explains, “these liberals are friends of business only when government is allocating the favors.” That’s true, but the issue goes deeper than handing out favors.
I had a strong sense of déjà vu when I read this Wall Street Journal editorial about Argentina’s harassment of a U.S. printing company for closing a plant in Buenos Aires. Why did this sound so familiar?
In Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, Alex Tabarok reviews a new book that provides yet another glimpse into the inner workings of our destructive regulatory state. The book, called Innovation Breakdown: How the FDA and Wall Street Cripple Medical Advances, chronicles the fight by a company called MELA Sciences to win approval from the FDA for a noninvasive method for detecting skin cancer. Initially enthusiastic about the product, the FDA later turned against the company when a new FDA director with a less favorable view of business came on board. The author of the book, who was the company’s CEO at the time (he has since retired), spent a year of his life at great personal cost fighting with the FDA before prevailing.
For years, many craft brewers in Florida have been directly working with the stores that sell their products. But now Florida lawmakers are entertaining a bill that will make such direct dealings illegal, forcing craft brewers to instead use state-licensed distributors as middlemen.
The proliferation of the food truck industry has created numerous opportunities for entrepreneurial-minded Americans to start their own business. It is hard enough to succeed in the mobile cuisine business given how fiercely competitive the restaurant industry is. But government regulations are making it even harder for food truck entrepreneurs to stay afloat.
Government regulations regularly treat honest businessmen as guilty until proven innocent by requiring that they get government permission to open a business, even one as familiar as a fast food restaurant.
Whenever the press, politicians and academics vilify a financial phenomenon, further examination almost always reveals that its bad elements are caused by regulation, not by markets — and often its consequences are good, despite what the experts claim. Case in point: the hysteria surrounding so-called high-frequency trading.
Government regulations criminalize all kinds of rational, productive, and honest business activity. As bad as this is, the non-objective nature of the regulatory state and the wide powers its enforcers wield can enable regulators to get away with extorting large sums from honest producers even when there is no clear wrongdoing according to their own rules.
I’ve blogged before on how the Jones Act of 1920 forbids maritime shippers from carrying cargo from one U.S. port to another unless the ship is, in essence, owned and run by Americans. This law is an obvious attempt to insulate some American businessmen from competition.