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Can President Obama Work with the Republican Congress on Trade?

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | November 19, 2014

An obvious question after the sweeping Republican election win is: “What hope is there for constructive outcomes between President Obama and the Republican Congress during the next two years?”

President Obama and Republican leaders have both answered this question with at least one answer in common: Trade policy. New Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that he and the President have already discussed trade as one area of possible cooperation,

There now appears to be a renewed possibility of Republicans passing fast track trade promotion authority early in the new Congress, which would revitalize trade negotiations such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other agreements. In general, it’s fair to say that Republicans are more favorably inclined toward trade liberalization than are Democrats, which is at least part of why Democrat Senate leader Harry Reid went out of his way to kill any possibility of progress on trade agreements early in 2014.

Support for freer trade has always been a hallmark of free-market conservative philosophy, although Republicans have also occasionally been guilty of protectionism, and there seems to be a disturbing distrust of free trade among some in the Tea Party movement that policy thought leaders like IPI will be addressing as part of our trade policy program. Ultimately, the evidence is overwhelming that freer trade leads to more economic efficiency and to greater job creation in areas of each nation’s competitive advantage. Read More >>

Freedom? There's An App For That.

Posted by Erin Humiston | Comments | November 17, 2014

We’ve updated the IPI mobile app. Be sure to download it today! Read More >>

MPAA Debuts Wheretowatch.com

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | November 12, 2014

Statement on the Passage of Denton's Fracking Ban

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | November 5, 2014

Unfortunately, those of us who support responsible use of innovative energy technologies such as fracking were unable to break through the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) spread by those who were pushing the Denton fracking ban. For various reasons insufficient effort went into addressing the health and environmental concerns of those who are normally in favor of energy production, but who have become fearful from the junk science being peddled by environmental extremists. And so, in Act I, the ban passed by a substantial margin.

Act II begins now, with several lawsuits filed already the day after the election. These lawsuits are not indicators of greed but rather of the very significant legal problems inherent in the ban. Contrary to what some ban proponents have stated, the simple fact that the ban was placed on the ballot does not indicate legal soundness. In fact, the ban is almost certain to be found illegal on multiple fronts—the only question is which set of legal perils prevails first. Read More >>

The Only Fracking Stopped by the Ban Is the Good Kind

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | November 2, 2014

Most reasonable people would probably agree that, ideally, drilling for oil and natural gas should take place on relatively large tracts of rural land, well away from residences and public places.  But here’s the poorly understood irony facing Denton voters on November 4: That’s the only kind of drilling that will be stopped if the proposed ban passes.

That’s right: It’s only out-of-the-way, inoffensive drilling on large tracts that will be affected under the ban.

Here’s why: While Denton had a weak drilling ordinance and issued some unwise drilling permits, that ordinance has now been significantly strengthened. Indeed, today’s Denton drilling ordinance has stricter requirements and larger setbacks than that of many other cities in north Texas. Anyone obtaining permits and drilling new wells today has to operate under the newly strengthened ordinance, including 1,200 foot setbacks. Fort Worth’s setback, for example, is only 600 feet.

Only wells on relatively large tracts of land and well away from property lines meet the test of the new ordinance and are thus even candidates to be banned.

Proponents of the ban are still seething over wells that were drilled close to residences and property lines under the old ordinance, or indeed that were drilled on unincorporated land. But the city’s hands are tied over those previously drilled wells. Read More >>

Early Voting Boom Amid Denton Fracking Fight

Posted by Erin Humiston | Comments | October 28, 2014

Legal, Economic & Property Rights Arguments Against the Proposed Ban on Fracking in Denton (video)

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | October 23, 2014

More Misleading Hype about the IP Chapter of the TPP: Forbes' Katheryn Thayer

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | October 23, 2014

I’m cataloging some of the misleading, distorting, uninformed and just plain awful reactions to the latest Wikileaked IP chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty in a series of blog posts, in order to keep my response down to manageably sized bites.

My general reaction to this pattern of distortion can be found in my response to the previously leaked chapter, here. Frankly, not much has substantively changed since then, except for the ever greater heights of distortion from the IP skeptic crowd.

Perhaps the worst reaction was from Katheryn Thayer at Forbes, and I want to stress that Katheryn identifies herself as “staff” at Forbes, and not just as one of their many authorized bloggers. Katheryn uncritically accepts and then further inflates the inaccurate and policy-sloppy arguments of the IP skeptic activist groups, and her article is much more of an opinion piece. Most problematic, she works from the assumption that the TPP is “the latest threat to digital innovation and free speech online.” That’s just totally unjustified. You don’t get to throw around a charge of threatening free speech without backing it up. But she doesn't. Read More >>

Ending Sugar Subsidies the Right (the Only?) Way

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | October 14, 2014

Because of our interest in trade policy and general opposition to government subsidies and other interference in private markets, we’ve done a few pieces on the issue of sugar subsidies, and lately about the best way to phase them out.

About this time last year we released “Solving the Sugar Subsidy Problem,” which outlined the basics of the issue and suggested that the solution must be some sort of global trade pact, most likely through a World Trade Organization (WTO) process.

And this past May we released “Seeking a Global Solution in Sugar Trade Policy,” which explained some of the enormous sugar subsidies and other trade distortions common to trading partners like Brazil, India, Mexico and Thailand. In the face of such global subsidies, only a global solution is probably workable.

Otherwise, you simply allow subsidized foreign competition to destroy our domestic sugar industry, after which time you could expect foreign suppliers to ratchet back up the price, as we explained.

Last week, Americans for Limited Government released a new paper reviewing the material on foreign sugar subsidies by those same four major producers (India, Thailand, Mexico and Brazil), and essentially pleading for free-traders and free-market promoters to embrace the global agreement model, as outlined by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL).

Essentially, the Yoho “zero-for-zero” proposal is a commitment by the U.S. that we would eliminate all our sugar subsidy programs if our trading partners would agree to come to a similar agreement. The Yoho plan would require some sort of trade agreement, either a bilateral or multilateral “Sugar FTA” or a WTO agreement. But, under Yoho’s plan, the U.S. takes the first step by making the commitment.

The alternatives are to either leave in place the status quo, which free-marketers and free-traders oppose, or unilateral disarmament, which free-marketers and free-traders (I argue) SHOULD oppose. Read More >>

Giovanetti Talks Denton Drilling Ban on The Blaze

Posted by Erin Humiston | Comments | October 6, 2014

Good Riddance, FCC Blackout Rules

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | September 30, 2014

This morning the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to eliminate its sports blackout rule, which helped the NFL justify blacking out the broadcast of NFL games that were not sold out.

The blackout rule was always a case of the FCC getting government involved in the business model of a company/league, which is always a mistake. Policy and business models should never be confused. Government sets policy, and then people go out and create business models. Government should not be creating or distorting or assisting anyone's business model. Read More >>

Grooveshark Found Guilty of Massive Copyright Infringement

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | September 29, 2014

This evening Grooveshark, the popular music streaming service that has up to now managed to skirt accusations by copyright holders that is was hosting music files without paying appropriate royalties, was found to be guilty of massive copyright piracy.

Grooveshark’s defense has long been that it is legal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the federal law that protects websites that host third-party material if they comply with takedown notices from copyright holders. Read More >>

IPI Meets with State Department Delegates from India

Posted by Merrill Matthews | Comments | September 25, 2014

Occasionally IPI president Tom Giovanetti and I get the opportunity to speak with scholars, journalists and government officials from other countries who are in the U.S. as part of a State Department outreach program. I recently spent time with this group from India, discussing the role think tanks play in developing government policies, especially foreign policy. Read More >>

Online Piracy Is not Due to a Lack of Available Content

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | September 25, 2014

I've always thought it was somewhat self-incriminating that critics of copyright tend to excuse copyright piracy. They usually claim to believe in some form of copyright (though they can almost never describe what they would support), and claim to believe in obeying the law, yet they excuse and explain away piracy.

Very often, the technique is to deflect "but don't you think piracy is wrong?" with a quick "yeah, but Hollywood . . . " and then you either get:

  • Hollywood doesn't make content available to consumers they way they want it (what they really mean is that Hollywood should make its products available to consumers immediately, easily, in a variety of formats, and for almost nothing).
  • All those rich Hollywood fatcats make too much money. I'm just depriving them of their next Bentley
  • Hollywood is defending their old business model instead of adapting to changing technology
  • Copyright term is too long (what this has to do with pirating a movie that's been out for a week is not obvious to me)

or some other foolishness. Read More >>

Yes, Of Course, In Trade Agreements, the Devil Is In the Details

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | September 23, 2014

Simon Lester, who I met earlier this year speaking at a Cato event, has a blog up over at Cato at Liberty giving a somewhat nuanced response to my new IPI Ideas on including IP protection in trade agreements.

His point, essentially, is that I'm being very general rather than granular in my argument. And he's completely right, of course. My argument in the piece IS a general argument; namely, that it's appropriate and important to include IP in trade agreements.

And, in fact, my general argument in favor is a response to the general argument that is being made by many, including Cato personnel, that IP should NOT be included in trade agreements. Read More >>

 

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