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On Obama's Rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | November 6, 2015

The United States is the cleanest place on earth to refine oil. We have the highest environmental standards, the best technology, and the strongest rule-of-law institutions.

That Canadian oil is going to be refined somewhere. If not in the U.S., it’s going to be refined elsewhere. Contrary to Obama’s implication, that oil is NOT going to remain in the ground.

That means the Keystone XL pipeline was the best option for the environment.  Now that oil will be shipped by rail and by ship, where a spill is more likely and more damaging, where the refining will be more harmful to the environment, and where the jobs and other economic benefits will happen.

Just the latest example of how for liberal-progressivism, symbol is more important than substance. It’s about how it makes liberals feel, now—not about reality or the long-term impact of the policy. Read More >>

Carrots, Sticks, and Straw Men

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | November 3, 2015

“An abundance of ideas” is the stated organizing principle of the Copia Institute, a new think tank “from Mike Masnick and the team behind Techdirt.” But their latest paper, “The Carrot or the Stick?: Innovation vs. Anti-Piracy Enforcement,” offers no new ideas. The paper purports to demonstrate that anti-piracy policies are ineffective and, alternatively, that introduction of legal online content distribution platforms correlates with a reduction in theft. As such, enforcement regimes should be abandoned in lieu of “innovation.”

Per Masnick:

What if the answer to Hollywood’s concerns about piracy actually come from Silicon Valley?  What if the best way to reduce piracy is to let innovation flow, and to provide better services that reasonably respond to consumers and their entertainment needs?

But as Masnick surely knows content creators already make their works available on an abundance of legal online distribution services. Indeed, there are over 400 licensed video services and 98 licensed music services worldwide, and digital books, magazines, newspapers, photos and other works are ubiquitous.

Instead, Masnick offers a straw man argument, as no one is arguing that enforcement is the only solution to online theft. Indeed, in the real world, rights holders are pursuing voluntary, market based solutions amongst good faith stakeholders to combat piracy. For instance, the five largest ISPs and the content community created the Copyright Alert System to educate users about infringing activity and help guide them to legal alternatives. And the advertising industry recently announced the formation of the Trustworthy Accountability Group, which will help advertisers ensure their valuable brands don’t appear on websites dedicated to theft, thereby helping to take the profit out of piracy while at the same time protecting their good names. Further, recognizing that rights holders should ask of themselves what they ask of others, the MPAA launched wheretowatch.com, a search tool that helps connect consumers with particular movies or shows of interest to them among so many options.

Ag Committee Hearing Properly Draws Attention to Problem of Foreign Subsidies

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | October 27, 2015

Trade policy is starting to get interesting.

Trade is back in the policy discussion with the Trans-Pacific Partnership having been concluded and many waiting to see the final text of the agreement. It’s a major agreement, and if it’s ratified by signatory countries, will have a dramatic impact on U.S. trade going forward.

But there are other trade issues as well, including enforcement of existing trade agreements as well as those countries and goods that are not covered under trade agreements.

That was the topic of a hearing held last Wednesday by the House Committee on Agriculture, led by Chairman Michael Conaway (R-TX). The Committee is concerned about foreign agriculture subsidies that distort markets and target American producers.

Now, we’ve written before about this issue with a focus on the sugar markets. On the one ideological side you have people who overtly believe in protectionism in a mistaken pursuit of somehow benefitting American producers by protecting them from foreign competition and thus gifting them with artificially high prices.

On the other ideological side you have those who think that believing in free trade should mean immediately eliminating any policy that affects the flow of goods across our border. If other countries want to subsidize production of some good in order to gain market share in the world’s most lucrative market (the United States), we should let them. Unilateral disarmament, in other words. It matters not that they would put U.S. producers out of business—all that matters is that U.S. consumers would get lower prices, which is a net benefit to the nation. Read More >>

Shkreli's Stupid Pricing Move Vindicates Rather Than Indicts Pharmaceutical Markets

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | October 26, 2015

House Votes to End the Crude Oil Export Ban

Posted by Merrill Matthews | Comments | October 9, 2015

The House of Representatives has just taken a major step toward reducing the U.S. trade deficit: ending the crude oil export ban. 

In 1975, when gas lines were long and voters’ tempers were high, Congress passed legislation prohibiting U.S. crude oil exports. The country had seemed to peak its oil production a few years earlier and was on a gradual crude oil production decline, and Congress wanted the country to keep every drop it produced.  Read More >>

Congress Finally Does Something Useful and Lifts the Ban on Crude Oil Exports

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | October 9, 2015

We'll, here's some good news: The House voted today to lift the senseless and outdated ban on U.S. crude oil exports.

And while this may seem like a no-brainer, there are any number of no-brainer pieces of legislation that Congress isn't bothering to move, so this is progress.

There is no argument against allowing U.S. crude oil exports except for an extreme anti-fossil fuels mindset, which is as unrealistic as it is wrong.

Here's a piece written by IPI's Dr. Merrill Matthews on why the ban is outdated and should be repealed.

It's important for the Republican Congress to be passing this kind of commonsense legislation that the majority of the American people support, even if they suspect President Obama is going to veto it.

Let him. Force him to explain his rationale to the American people. Get him on record, and force all other Democratic candidates and elected officials whether they agree with the President or not.

One of the things that is so frustrating people right now is Congresses not bothering to pass good legislation because of the threat of a veto. In this baseball playoff season, Republicans need to stop playing wiffleball and start playing hardball. Read More >>

The Problem with Chaffetz as Speaker

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | October 9, 2015

You could hardly have a more fluid situation than what is going on right now with regard to future Republican House leadership, so this blog may be out of date before it’s finished. But as I’m writing, several people are maneuvering for leadership positions, and the general grassroots mood is that they want a “real conservative.”

(Of course, what a “real conservative” is differs literally from activist to activist. If they agree with you down the line on every single issue, they are a “real conservative,” and if they disagree with you on anything, they are a RINO. Apparently. Which is the biggest problem the conservative movement has right now. It’s principles, people. Anyway . . . )

One candidate who some feel is the “real conservative” for Speaker of the House is Jason Chaffetz from Utah. Chaffetz is an interesting case. Is Chaffetz the “real conservative” option?

Well, yes, the Obama administration doesn’t like Chaffetz, but that’s largely because he chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and thus has been looking into Executive Branch.

But conservatives mostly define themselves by their principles, and one of the pretty bedrock principles is constitutional federalism. On that front, Chaffetz is troubling, for at least two reasons. Read More >>

Let's Get Real about What's Fair in TPP Copyright Provisions

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | October 2, 2015

Last year I was invited by Bill Watson of the CATO Institute to make the case as to why it is critically necessary for U.S. negotiators to insist on strong IP provision in our trade agreements.  Intellectual property-intensive industries account for about two-thirds of U.S. exports – it would be malpractice for our negotiators NOT to work to prevent foreign theft of American innovation.

(I think I got the better of my fellow panelists at that event—you can watch it and judge for yourself.)

The TPP negotiators are in Atlanta this week trying hard to work through the last few, toughest issues, and Bill is back at it again, this time arguing that the United States should not only allow, but in fact demand broad exceptions to copyright in the laws of our TPP trading partners.  This again proves what I said last year – that the TPP debate is not really about trade, it’s about people who want weaker intellectual property rights.  (Bill was kind enough to reference this piece of mine in his, which is always nice.) Ok, so let’s have that debate.

The Real "Death Sentence": Limiting Data Exclusivity

Posted by Merrill Matthews | Comments | October 1, 2015

Public Citizen is highlighting a cancer victim who is protesting at the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) meeting in Atlanta.  

Public Citizen quotes the protester as saying: "When you have breast cancer today, you can’t wait 8 years or 7 years or 6 years for a treatment to become available or affordable. When you have cancer, even a one-year delay in affordable medicine can be a death sentence. That is why we call this proposed provision of the TPP a ‘death sentence clause.’  If it passes, thousands of women like me will die waiting.”  Read More >>

A Big Step To Combating Ad-Supported Piracy

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | September 29, 2015

We previously blogged about the new Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), a voluntary agreement among advertising agencies and bureaus to address the problem of brand advertising on rogue websites that promote illegal and harmful content such as copyright piracy and malware. These rogue websites exist largely because they have been able to profit by attracting advertising dollars because of their high traffic volumes. The question has always been: Why would a company with a valuable brand want to associate their brand with such disreputable activities? The Trustworthy Accountability Group is set up to address this problem.

Last week, a major global advertising company, GroupM, announced that they will require all of their media partners (places where they place advertising) to receive certification from the Trustworthy Accountability Group. So this is a huge first step toward achieving the goals of the TAG. Read More >>

This Is Not Full Employment

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | September 4, 2015

You may be victimized today by those who are either economically ignorant or purposefully deceitful into thinking that good employment news was released today. In fact, you might even hear that the Federal Reserve has at last achieved one of its policy mandates of “full employment.”

Now, it’s true that economists do not define full employment as a zero percent unemployment rate. It’s actually impossible to ever reach zero percent unemployment, so economists have typically defined full employment as an unemployment rate of somewhere between 3.5 and 5 percent. [During the Reagan years, full employment was casually considered to be an unemployment rate of around 4 percent.]

So, with today’s announced creation of 173,000 new jobs and an unemployment rate of 5.1 percent, some are celebrating. But they are wrong. Read More >>

Stopping Criminals Isn't "Censorship"

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | August 11, 2015

Tom Giovanetti Gives His Take on First GOP Debate

Posted by Erin Humiston | Comments | August 10, 2015

In an interview with CTV News, IPI's Tom Giovanetti gives his assessment of Thursday night's Fox News Channel Republican debate. 

"It was a fabulous debate," said Giovanetti. "It showed how much energy there is on the Republican side." Read More >>

The Australia-U.S. Free Trade Agreement Did NOT Blow-up Australia's Pharmaceutical Benefits Program

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | July 31, 2015

Right now, literally as I type this, Australian trade negotiators are reportedly resisting U.S. demands for increased protection of pharmaceutical and biotech innovation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. They are no doubt motivated by the warnings of Australian academics and researchers that Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), which the Australian government uses to control drug prices, will be weakened or undone altogether by extending the period of data protection for biologics, among other provisions.

The sky-is-falling warning from these academic critics of the pharmaceutical industry is that protecting the products of innovation will necessarily result in dramatic price increases, which Australia (and Australians) will no longer be able to afford.

Interestingly, Australian academics made this exact same argument in 2003, warning Australia about the treaty that was then being negotiated, the Australia-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA).  

I have before me a copy of a paper published by The Australia Institute, entitled “A Backdoor to Higher Medicine Prices? Intellectual Property and the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement,” by Dr. Buddhima Lokuge, Dr. Thomas Alured Faunce, and Richard Denniss.

The paper predicted that the Australia-U.S. FTA would result in dramatic increases in the cost of prescription drugs in Australia.

“This paper examines five leading medicines near the end of their patent lives in Australia. Based on PBS expenditures for these drugs in 2003, we estimated the potential cost of likely changes to IP provisions under the FTA to the PBS and Australian taxpayers. The costs accrue over a four-year period from 2006 to 2009. . . . The ‘central case’ estimate is that the additional cost of these five drugs alone, as a result of IP provisions in the FTA, will be more than $1.12 billion with a lower estimate of $850 million and an upper estimate of $1.56 billion.”

But they were wrong then, and they’re likely wrong now. Read More >>

Australia Drug Prices Did NOT Increase After Australia-U.S. FTA

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | July 30, 2015

A piece in today’s Dominion Post (New Zealand) finds that warnings about higher drug prices as a result of free trade agreements are baseless, as least as far as facts are concerned:

“We can't assume medicine costs will increase if some patents or Intellectual Property protections are extended. Speculation about rising medicine prices under the TPPA mirror concerns Australians voiced over the U.S-Australia FTA. However, since signing the FTA in 2005, Australia's spend on pharmaceuticals has remained stable and the rate of expenditure has decreased. In 2006 Canada's pharmaceutical spend decreased after implementing an eight year data protection period. Similarly, after Japan increased data protection in 2007 to eight years, pharmaceutical spend decreased and health care spend increased by the year 2010.” Read More >>

 

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