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Jeffrey Miron, Erin Partin



Articles by Jeffrey Miron, Erin Partin

Police Unions Enable Misconduct

25 days ago

As calls for police reform echo across the country, police unions are under increasing scrutiny. A recent working paper from the University of Chicago addresses many of the issues surrounding police unions:
Growing controversy surrounds the impact of labor unions on law enforcement behavior. Critics argue that unions impede organizational reform and insulate officers from discipline for misconduct. Yet collective bargaining tends to increase wages, which could improve officer behavior. We provide quasi‐​experimental empirical evidence on the effects of collective bargaining rights on violent incidents of misconduct. Our empirical strategy exploits a 2003 Florida Supreme Court decision (Williams), which conferred collective bargaining rights on sheriffs’ deputies, resulting in a substantial

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What is Worse than Bad Policies? Misuse of Power

26 days ago

Since the beginning of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has prioritized imposing punitive tariffs on China. In a 2016 Republican presidential debate he said, “I’m totally open to a tariff. If they don’t treat us fairly, hey, their whole trade is tariffed. You can’t deal in China without tariffs. They do it to us, we don’t it. It’s not fair trade.”
True to his word, the Trump administration soon implemented steep tariffs on steel and aluminum, washing machines, and solar panels—specifically targeting China with an escalation of his trade war. Tariffs are bad economic policy—costing ordinary Americans hundreds if not thousands of dollars each year—and lead to predictable retaliation and escalation. In response to Trump’s tariffs on Chinese products, Beijing implemented high tariffs on

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The United Kingdom Shows How to Combat China’s Oppression of Hong Kong

26 days ago

As China prepares to take over Hong Kong⁠—effectively ending the era of “one country, two systems”⁠—other countries are struggling with how to respond.
One of the best responses has come from Great Britain. In a column for The Times, Prime Minister Boris Johnson proposed a path to British citizenship for nearly 3 million Hong Kong residents. Johnson writes:
Many people in Hong Kong fear that their way of life — which China pledged to uphold — is under threat. If China proceeds to justify their fears, then Britain could not in good conscience shrug our shoulders and walk away; instead we will honor our obligations and provide an alternative.

The Washington Post reports that, “China’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that Britain has no jurisdiction over Hong Kong. Britain must ‘step back

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Police Violence and the Racist Drug War

June 3, 2020

Police misconduct arises from many causes. Overly strong unions protect officers from discipline and prevent institutional reform. Qualified immunity, the doctrine established by the Supreme Court that limits the ability of citizens to bring civil suits against government officials, shields police from accountability for their misconduct. And militarization – federal provision of military equipment to state and local police departments – leads to more aggressive tactics in black communities. All of these policies, combined with underlying racial animus, contribute to aggressive, often unlawful behavior, especially towards blacks and other racial minorities.
Another key driver is the War on Drugs. Federal drug prohibition dates to the Harrison Narcotic Act of 1914, and President Richard

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Gains From Deregulation Undone by Tariffs

January 9, 2020

Optimism among U.S. manufacturers was near an all-time high in early 2017. Just eleven days into his presidency Trump signed an executive order specifically targeting overregulation. According to a survey by the National Association of Manufacturers, an advocacy group representing 14,000 U.S. companies, 93.3 percent of respondents felt optimistic about their company’s outlook. This optimism was driven by an expectation that the new administration would focus on deregulation, which would benefit the domestic manufacturing industry. The administration’s commitment to deregulation kept industry confidence high through much of 2017 and 2018 as regulations continued to be repealed.

However, the escalating trade war with China is erasing many of the gains from deregulation. Small and medium

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No Government Promotion of Homes or Mortgages

December 11, 2019

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government-sponsored-enterprises that supply affordable mortgages across the country, are cutting back on loans to certain risky borrowers. This appears to come at the direction of their regulating agency, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). This reduction in risky loans may signal that the FHFA is anticipating an economic downturn.
Curtailing loans to individuals with low down payments, or those deeply in debt, should lower the risk of mortgage defaults, which were a major driver of the 2008 financial crisis. Thus the FHFA’s decision is a step in the right direction, but it misses the fundamental issue: government should not promote homeownership.
The U.S.’s long standing goal of greater homeownership is disguised redistribution that creates more

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Another Failure of the War on Drugs

December 9, 2019

The Washington Post has just published a deep dive into the war in Afghanistan, including the war on opium. These newly released documents expose in stark terms the dramatic failures of our century-long war on drugs. Of all the aspects of the Afghan quagmire, the war on opium has been among the most indefensibly foolish. Metaphorical wars against inanimate objects (drugs, alcohol, etc.) or vague ideas (crime, poverty, etc.) have an extensive history of failure. Continuing to pursue them is nonsensical at best, and deadly at worst.
U.S. opium poppy eradication efforts have cost nearly $9 billion since 2001. In 2001 US airstrikes targeted “a network of clandestine opium production labs that U.S. officials said was helping to generate $200 million a year in drug money for the Taliban,” but

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The Human Cost of Overregulating Opioids

November 22, 2019

Many people blame excessive painkiller prescriptions for the rise in opioid overdose deaths over the past two decades; and the government has responded with strict limits on how physicians prescribe opioids. Many pain patients lost access to medications with little warning and no alternative other than illicit opioids. However, a recent Policy Analysis finds that the opioid epidemic has resulted from too many restrictions on prescribing, not too few.
A reader who read the PA reached out to us with his story:
Your article is spot on. My adult son was prescribed several opioids at a pain clinic for displaced vertebrae in his neck. Surgery was too dangerous, and a pain clinic was recommended. As time went on he needed more and more to kill the pain, but we now know it was addiction. He

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Michigan Bans Flavored E-Cigarettes

September 5, 2019

Today, Michigan became the first state to announce an outright ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) explained the decision by saying, “As governor, I’m going to do it unilaterally until I can get the legislature to adopt a statute and write it into law.”

This executive decision will impact nearly half a million Michiganders who use e-cigarettes. The ban prohibits the retail or online sale of flavored e-cigarettes or vaping liquid, including mint and menthol flavorings. Flavored e-cigarettes account for nearly three quarters of all e-cigarettes, so the impact will be widely felt.

The governor cites increasing youth use of flavored e-cigarettes and recent CDC reports of respiratory illnesses that may be associated with e-cigarette use in justifying the

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Michigan Bans Flavored E-Cigarettes

September 5, 2019

Today, Michigan became the first state to announce an outright ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) explained the decision by saying, “As governor, I’m going to do it unilaterally until I can get the legislature to adopt a statute and write it into law.”
This executive decision will impact nearly half a million Michiganders who use e-cigarettes. The ban prohibits the retail or online sale of flavored e-cigarettes or vaping liquid, including mint and menthol flavorings. Flavored e-cigarettes account for nearly three quarters of all e-cigarettes, so the impact will be widely felt.
The governor cites increasing youth use of flavored e-cigarettes and recent CDC reports of respiratory illnesses that may be associated with e-cigarette use in justifying the

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New Roads for Marijuana Research

September 3, 2019

News that the DEA is moving forward to improve access to marijuana for research purposes should be cause for celebration. But, if history is any guide, marijuana advocates should remain cautious. It has been three years since the process of increasing the number of entities registered under the Controlled Substances Act to “facilitate research involving marijuana and its chemical constituents” began. Prior to the 2016 announcement, the DEA had a monopoly on growing marijuana for research purposes. That no progress has been made in the past three years is outrageous, yet not unexpected from the prohibitionist bureaucracy of the DEA.
Israel, the Netherlands, and Canada are leading the way in marijuana research. Studies show that marijuana is an effective treatment for pain, epilepsy,

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Hemp Bill Leaves Texas Prosecutors in the Smoke

August 26, 2019

News that Texas effectively decriminalized marijuana through poorly written hemp-farming legislation has upset state lawmakers and confused law enforcement officials and prosecutors.
The legislation in question, H.B. 1325, amended the state agricultural code to permit production, sale, and possession of hemp and CBD products containing a THC concentration of 0.3 percent or less. What lawmakers missed was the inability of state crime labs to determine THC concentration. Shortly after the act was signed by the governor, the Texas District and County Attorneys Association advised their members it might be necessary to wait until the state acquires equipment to perform the appropriate tests before pursuing legal action against marijuana defendants. In addition, the Texas Department of

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