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IPI Ideas

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June 30, 2006

A War on Energy--Again?


Proposals for energy independence are decidedly unserious. If officials believe America faces a crisis, they should propose the equivalent of a new Manhattan Project. In any case, the best energy policy is leaving the marketplace free to adapt to changing conditions.

February 24, 2006

A Primer on Price Controls


Politicians are once again flirting with price controls. A price is a powerful conveyor of information to both buyers and sellers. Most companies engage in "differential pricing," so that low-income people have access to their products. But price controls actually hurt low-income people because they keep prices artificially high, plus they stifle competition and destroy innovation.
February 6, 2006

The Scheme to Streamline Sales Tax Increases


In October the so-called Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SST) came into effect for 19 states that have agreed to coordinate and harmonize their sales tax definitions, audit, reporting, and compliance procedures. In its present form the SST is strictly voluntary for businesses that choose to register under it and remit sales and use taxes under its framework. The chief objective of that framework is to induce or coerce companies to remit to the states taxes on mail-order and Internet sales that presently escape liability under the Supreme Court’s interpretations of the Commerce Clause and Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

In fact, those constitutional constraints on states seeking to collect taxes on out-of-state sales make the SST at present voluntary, not compulsory. The SST is manifestly designed to be compulsory, however, and will become so if legislation proposed by North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan (S. 2153) and Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi (S.2152) is enacted into law.
February 6, 2006

No Internet Tax? Don't Be So Sure


In 2004 Congress passed and President Bush signed into law a three-year extension of the Internet Tax Moratorium, which has been in effect almost continually since 1998. Americans thus don’t have to worry about paying extra taxes for their access to the Internet, over and above what they already pay on telecom services. Or do they?

January 5, 2006

Will Congress Circumvent the DMCA?


One constant theme of the consumer rights movement is that firms should make full disclosure of the terms on which they sell their wares. That theme is central to understanding H.R. 1201, the “Digital Media Consumers’ Rights Act of 2005.”
The problem is that H.R. 1201 itself doesn’t engage in full disclosure when it claims to address “mislabeled copy-protected music” and “other purposes.” It turns out that those unnamed purposes are no small add-on, but could eviscerate the already inadequate protection that federal law provides against copyright piracy.
In this IPI Ideas publication, Richard Epstein points out the hidden dangers in H.R. 1201, and suggests how its sponsors should fully disclose the bill’s effects if they plan to promote it in 2006.
September 24, 2005

Intellectual Property Rights and Human Rights


The 20th century saw the trial and error of a philosophy that privately-owned economic goods did not benefit the general public. However, the 21st century has begun with a new twist: Is the public harmed by private ownership of intellectual property goods? Fortunately, earlier and wiser voices were insightful enough to include intellectual property protection in some of the basic documents that the world looks to as pillars of civil society.
July 29, 2005

Europe: United in Regulation


Europe keeps trying to compete with the US by outregulating it, and exporting those regs to US companies. In further delaying and micromanaging its antitrust action against Microsoft, Europe seems more interested in using Microsoft and other US based multinationals as "cash cows" to fund projects (like aid to the Third World) that win Europe's bureaucrats great press releases, but do nothing to enhance the quality of life in Europe OR in Africa. Instead Europe should commit to greater economic freedom and opportunity on both continents, which would truly make a difference to the poor.

February 28, 2005

Design Principles For Strengthening Social Security Through Personal Accounts


The public debate about Personal Retirement Accounts has been clouded by a smokescreen of false arguments from critics, and by a confusing array of options from reformers. Everything, it seems, is "on the table," except true Social Security reform based on personal accounts.

In an attempt to bring clarity and guidance to the debate, the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) submits these Design Principles for Social Security reform.
December 3, 2004

Europe vs. Us


European regulations aimed at American economic and technological superiority might be dismissed as silly, but they forebode increasing competition-by-regulation rather than competition for freer markets. We can't wait to see what Europe will do next. The best U.S. policy is to remind the world of the superior power of economic freedom by cutting its own taxes and regulations to lure more business from abroad.
December 3, 2004

Just Say "No" to Municipal Broadband Networks


Municipal networks are a bad idea that will have a negative impact on the continued development of private sector investment in, development for and deployment of telecommunications services and the resulting economic benefits they provide to the U.S. economy.

 

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