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Between Requiring and Banning Proof of Vaccination there is Liberty

by Tom Giovanetti | 0 Comments | June 10, 2021

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

-          Viktor E. Frankl

What are we to think of moves by Texas and Florida Republicans to ban private businesses from requiring proof of vaccination before entering their premises or engaging with their employees? Without a doubt such policies are popular with the Republican grassroots, but are they based on the right principles? 

Sadly, no. 

Many people skeptical about government power and about Covid-19 itself have agitated against “vaccine passports” and against any requirement to take the vaccine or to have to prove that they have been vaccinated. 

And it’s probably correct that government agencies should not require proof of vaccination for Covid-19 in order to obtain necessary services from government. That’s probably an untenable intrusion on Americans’ sense of personal privacy, although of course schools have for decades required proof of vaccination for school attendance. 

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Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick's SB4 Is Unconstitutional

by Tom Giovanetti | 0 Comments | May 24, 2021

Here in Texas Dan Patrick, the Lieutenant Governor and Leader of the Senate, has a bill, SB4, that would require the National Anthem to be performed before any public sporting event that is in any way connected to taxpayer dollars. That would include all public schools, of course, but would even include private sporting venues if they received tax abatements, subsidies, or dedicated sales taxes.

Whatever you think of taxpayer funding of sporting venues (and I don’t think much of it), Patrick’s bill is blatantly unconstitutional in that it violates the First Amendment.

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On Criticisms of my Wall Street Journal Article Criticizing "Right to Repair"

by Tom Giovanetti | 0 Comments | May 3, 2021

Monday May 3rd I was honored to again have a piece published in the Wall Street Journal. The topic of this one was the “Right to Repair” movement, and why forcing manufacturers to supply details about their technologies, whether covered by patent, copyright, or trade secret, would be harmful to innovation.

While the piece appeared in the May 3rd edition, I knew it had gone live Sunday evening around 8pm because I suddenly started getting vitriolic Twitter traffic in response to it. And it’s still going on strong 24 hours later. I have had many hundreds of tweets trashing me and the piece, questioning my motives, my intelligence, my knowledge of the issue, my research skills, my honesty, my integrity, my Christianity (yes), etc.

Reactors to the piece on social media fall into one of three categories:

  • Friends in the IP policy world who praised and shared the piece,
  • Hordes of Twitter keyboard warriors with single-digit followers bashing the piece and insulting me personally BUT focusing on extraneous issues, and
  • One guy, Louis Rossmann, who is apparently the guru of Right to Repair. He has a YouTube following of 1.5 million subscribers, and apparently his meaning in life is Right to Repair.
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IPI Files Comments in Support of FCC 5.9 GHz Rulemaking

by Tom Giovanetti | 0 Comments | March 9, 2020

Today, the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in support of the FCC’s 5.9 GHz proceeding.

If you’re into that sort of thing, that’s all you need to know. If you have no idea what that is about, the rest of this is for you.

Spectrum is a limited resources, and these days is in more demand than ever. Broadcast TV and radio, wireless phones, Wi-Fi, baby monitors, home security devices, first responder communications, military and satellite applications—and scores more things all use wireless spectrum. And because there seems no end of demand for spectrum, policymakers have recognized that it could get crowded.

That’s why the FCC has for years been identifying bands of unused and underused spectrum so that it could be repurposed for more efficient use. Oh, and because it is auctioned off, that’s more revenue for the federal government.

In recent years spectrum belonging to television broadcasters and satellite companies has been auctioned and repurposed to obtain more spectrum for wireless phones.

But it turns out, the biggest hoarder of unused and underused spectrum is the federal government itself. Many agencies have been allocated spectrum, and much of this spectrum has been left idle or underused for decades. A lot, but not all, has been reserved by the military, and eventually some of that is going to have to be clawed back as well.

In 1999 a block of spectrum was allocated to the Department of Transportation (DOT) to be used for future smart cars to be able to talk with each other, with the goal of increased public safety. The DOT came up with a plan called Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) for cars to communicate with each other and coordinate with each other.

Well, fine. Except that for the last 20 years, almost nothing has been done with this important band of spectrum. Meanwhile, it has become clear that autonomous vehicles aren’t going to be safer because they are dependent on communications with all the other vehicles around them – they are going to be safer because they are autonomous and independent. Creating a system of dependencies just doesn’t make sense—it probably makes such cars more vulnerable in that it could create a false sense of security.

So the FCC essentially wants to take part of the 5.9 GHz spectrum away from the DOT. Can you predict how the DOT might respond to such a request?

Yeah, you’re right. Huge, ugly turf battle between Elaine Chao (Sec. of Transportation) and Ajit Pai (Chairman of FCC). Except that the FCC has final say over such things.

The best use of the 5.9 GHz spectrum is to leave a little bit of it with DOT and see if they come up with something useful to do with it, while making most of it available for more efficient uses. And that is what the FCC’s proceeding is about, and it’s why IPI filed comments today in support of the FCC’s proceeding.

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I just snipped off my old ISDN line

by Tom Giovanetti | 0 Comments | January 12, 2020

In the course of trying to reorganize my little home office so that it could become an actually useful and productive space . . . I just snipped off my old ISDN line.

Only you old timers will remember when we were dependent on ISDN lines for clear voice lines for radio interviews, and for “high speed” internet. ISDN was faster than dial-up (barely) and clearer than twisted pair analog voice lines.

Getting one installed in my home was an ordeal, but also a treasure. You could split 1 ISDN line into two channels so that—get this—you could be on the phone and on the internet at the SAME TIME.

It was really incredible that you could have decent data speed (at that time) and also be on the phone, all through a single phone line. 

Because we lived\live out in a rural area, we weren't exactly among the first to be offered higher speed technologies. DSL (remember that?) was never available at our house, and to this day cable has never been available at our address.

So it was ISDN for a number of years, even while others went to DSL, and then we were able to go to a regional fixed wireless provider, before in the most amazing circumstance we ended up being one of the very first areas to have Verizon's "new" FiOS product offered. I believe I was the 3rd home hooked up to FiOS, and for many months called once a week to find out whether they were yet taking installation appointments.

Unbelievable.

And unbelievable how far we have come.

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Posted in Trade

How to Think About the Trade War

by Tom Giovanetti | 0 Comments | September 5, 2019

The question isn't whether Trump's tariffs are hurting the U.S. economy--they definitely are. They're hurting the U.S. economy, and they're hurting China's economy. And the question isn't who is paying the tariffs--Americans are paying U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods, and the Chinese are paying China's retaliatory tariffs. That's how tariffs work. They directly harm the country assessing the tariffs in order to indirectly harm the targeted country. 

The real questions are as follows: 1) is the damage of the trade war worth it? Is the short-term harm worth some greater long-term good? Some critical geopolitical strategy? 

And 2) are tariffs the best way to accomplish the possible long-term good asserted? 

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Yes, Index Capital Gains to Inflation. But Why Stop There?

by Erin Humiston | 0 Comments | September 3, 2019

Tax cuts aimed at capital produce the most significant economic benefits. A legacy 2001 IPI study by economists Gary and Aldona Robbins shows that a cut in capital gains taxes would be one of two most effective to stimulate the economy. In their study, the Robbinses concluded that a capital gains cut would spur economic growth substantially more than any other stimulus measure, with economic growth of more than $10 for every dollar of lost revenue

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Posted in Health Care, Trade

A Long History: IPI's Work on Drug Importation Risks

by Erin Humiston | 0 Comments | August 11, 2019

For over 16 years, the Institute for Policy Innovation has released numerous publications warning the risks of such a scheme cannot be overstated—foremost the public health danger, since it is impossible for the U.S. to guarantee the safety of imported drugs.

The following is a history of IPI’s research into the question of whether the U.S. should open its drug market to imported pharmaceuticals.

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Digital Piracy Steals Our Opportunity

by Bartlett D. Cleland | 0 Comments | August 8, 2019

In April 1902 the first permanent movie house, the Electric Theatre in Los Angeles, opened its doors. People started leaving their homes to go to the movies. More than 117 years later legal video streaming has empowered people to watch video anywhere they want. Consumers clearly value mobility as evidenced by streaming subscribers now being more numerous than paid television subscribers.  

During this era of seemingly endless video choices, and options of where to watch it, one specter looms: Digital piracy continues to grow, threatening the very innovation that has brought us so many options.  

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New York's Minimum Wage Hike Disaster is Simple Economics

by Erin Humiston | 0 Comments | August 8, 2019

Eight months after instituting a $15 an hour minimum wage hike, New York City employers and workers are feeling the pinch. Reports show business operators are cutting staff, cutting hours, and even raising prices. 

This is no surprise.

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Posted in Health Care, Trade

Drug Importation Opens Doors to Counterfeit, Compromised Drugs

by Erin Humiston | 0 Comments | August 7, 2019

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced the Trump administration will reverse a decades-long policy and create a way for Americans to import prescription drugs from Canada.

Azar says that by moving forward on reimportation, the administration is putting Americans patients first. But IPI experts agree that the practice has been illegal chiefly because it puts Americans in harm’s way. Importantly, drug manufacturers cannot guarantee the safety of prescription drugs reimported to the United States.

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Posted in Politics

Biden Still Leads Among Democratic Hopefuls, But Where's the Excitement?

by Erin Humiston | 0 Comments | August 1, 2019

IPI resident scholar Dr. Merrill Matthews appeared on CGTN’s The Heat to discuss this week’s Democratic presidential debates.

Identifying moderate and former Vice President Joe Biden as both the leader in the debates and as the biggest threat to President Donald Trump, Matthews said, “I still think many Democrats are more on the moderate side and haven’t bought into the far-left proposals expressed by so many of the presidential candidates.”

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Posted in Health Care

British, Canadian Headlines Debunk Sanders' Claims of Single-Payer Superiority

by Erin Humiston | 0 Comments | August 1, 2019

On Wednesday, July 31, IPI resident scholar Dr. Merrill Matthews joined U.S. Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN), CMS chief Seema Verma, and an all-star lineup of health policy experts at the Heritage Foundation to discuss what a Medicare for all, single-payer healthcare system would mean for Americans. (Click here for C-SPAN video.)

“Watching this week’s debates, there are two things the Democrats agree on,” said Matthews. “Number one, the current system is an absolute mess— yet nobody seems to point out that system’s Obamacare.”

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How the Warren Court Betrayed Our System of Checks and Balances

by Erin Humiston | 0 Comments | July 18, 2019

IPI president Tom Giovanetti joined host Debbie Georgatos Wednesday on "America Can We Talk" discussing the concept of judicial supremacy.

Is the final word on almost any issue whatever the Supreme Court rules? Do the executive and legislative branches have to roll over to the final arbiter, the judiciary? 

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Posted in Civil Liberties

Tucker Carlson Is Wrong

by Tom Giovanetti | 0 Comments | July 16, 2019

Today Tucker Carlson said that the greatest threat to our liberty was no longer the federal government, but is now big corporations.

Tucker Carlson is abjectly wrong.

Hewlett-Packard can’t kick my door in, shoot my dog, and take my kids. Facebook has never planted false evidence on me. Amazon doesn’t seize my assets before I’ve been convicted of a crime.

Best Buy doesn’t have qualified immunity that protects it from liability if it breaks the law and harms me.

Government does all of these things.

The greatest threat to liberty is, and always has been, government. Not the private sector. There’s a bright line there that only a fool would purposely blur.

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