Thursday , October 29 2020
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Disappointing Results from Taskforce on Telehealth

The report of the Taskforce on Telehealth Policy Findings and Recommendations was released September 15, 2020, accompanied by an online presentation. I had high hopes for the report and looked forward to its recommendations with interest. After all, it was led by some of the strongest supporters of telehealth: the Alliance for Connected Care and the American Telemedicine Association. They teamed up with the National Committee for Quality Assurance and solicited input from a diverse,...

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Time to Shut Down the DC Metro Rail

Highway traffic in the Washington DC metro area returned to 80 percent of its pre‐​pandemic levels in July, but DC transit carried only 16 percent as many riders as it did in July 2019. Metro’s own surveys have found that most of its riders don’t plan to return until and unless an effective COVID vaccine is found. Given this, there is no better time to simply shut down the Metro rail system, thus saving taxpayers billions of dollars. Conceived with racist assumptions and faulty financial...

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Minneapolis Won’t Let Riot‐​Battered Stores Install Security Shutters

In the destructive riots that hit Minneapolis this summer — riots I’ve argued libertarians should be in the forefront of condemning — nearly 1,500 businesses were heavily damaged or destroyed. For many of these businesses, the Minneapolis city government adds a special insult: it won’t let shop owners install exterior shutters to protect against break‐​ins, a common practice in other cities. The Star‐​Tribune reported on the resulting frustration: In a report justifying the rule change,...

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Introducing “Pandemics and Policy“

The 21st century has so far seen three great crises: the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the financial collapse of 2008, and the COVID-19 pandemic—which has by itself already inflicted a greater toll in life, liberty, and prosperity than its two predecessors combined. And just as COVID has upended our daily lives, it’s transformed the political terrain, with governments at all levels exercising emergency powers rarely seen outside the context of total war. But “panic is its...

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The “China Shock” that Helped U.S. Higher Education

As discussed in my recent Policy Analysis on the subject, today’s critics of U.S.-China economic engagement often overstate the harms caused by Chinese goods imports in the year’s following China’s accession to the World Trade Organization (a.k.a. the “China Shock”) while ignoring trade liberalization’s many benefits during the same period. A new Working Paper from the Center for Global Development drills down on one such benefit: increased U.S. higher education exports to China (i.e.,...

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Another President, Another Unfortunate Innovation in Executive Power

A couple weeks ago, I blogged about “an unfortunate innovation in executive power” during the Obama administration, which I called “leverage policymaking.” In a nutshell, “leverage policymaking” entails regulatory agencies using individual transactions with large corporations—such as enforcement or licensing actions—to achieve broad policy results. Last week, Cato published a Legal Policy Bulletin about another unfortunate innovation in executive power, but this one was pioneered by the Trump...

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The Abuse‐​Deterrent Folly

On September 11 a Food and Drug Administration Advisory Committee recommended rejecting Purdue Pharma’s request to add to the label of the abuse‐​deterrent formulation (ADF) of its drug OxyContin the claim that it reduces the incidence of non‐​medical use and overdose from opioids. In the early part of this century law enforcement officials reported that many non‐​medical users of the diverted prescription drug OxyContin, a concentrated, slow‐​release formulation of oxycodone, would crush...

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The Smokey View from the Northwest

There are no clouds in the central Oregon sky today, but we are nonetheless living in dim times. With active wildfires on all sides of my home, we have some of the worst air pollution in the world. It’s hard not to feel apocalyptic right now. In just four days, around 3 percent of western Oregon has burned, destroying hundreds of homes and other structures and forcing 80,000 people to evacuate. The good news is that it was not 500,000 people as reported in the media, but still, 80,000 is...

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Is the Fed Getting Warmer?

Relax: the Fed isn't about to catch fire or melt. This isn't about that sort of warming. It's about a different, more benign sort of Fed warming that my pals at the Mercatus Center claim to have discerned. Still, I don't believe them. Call me a Fed warming skeptic if you like, but so far as I'm concerned, it's all fake news. Since Jay Powell announced the Fed's new average inflation targeting (AIT) strategy last week, both Scott Sumner and David Beckworth have welcomed it as a step, albeit...

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State Policy Favoritism and Corruption

California leaders are in the news for passing a misguided law that requires most independent contractors to be treated as employees, and then realizing how harmful that is and passing another law exempting dozens of politically important industries from the mandate. Lee Ohanian describes the law’s damage here. Last year, “Assembly Bill 5 included exemptions for many politically‐​connected occupations like real estate agents and doctors, but ensnared many others, drawing particular criticism...

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