For those who don’t follow the communications industry closely, you may not know that the Federal Communications Commission has undertaken the herculean and laudable task of reviewing all its regulations applying to TV and radio broadcasters, cable TV operators and satellite TV providers, and repealing or modifying any outdated, unnecessary or unduly burdensome rules. In July, the FCC will start the formal process of reforming its rules requiring broadcast TV stations to air government-specified amounts of children’s educational programming. Frontiers of Freedom supports the FCC’s proposals – released in draft form on June 21 – here – to bring its rules into the 21st century.
From its draft, the FCC clearly recognizes that the children’s TV rules, originally adopted in 1996, must be updated. The current rules betray their analog-era origins, a time when consumers had restricted viewing options and most viewers watched only a handful of broadcast channels. But in today’s digital world, consumers enjoy video programming on multiple platforms via multiple devices at the time and location of their choice – the concept of “appointment viewing” has become meaningless to most consumers, especially younger ones. Children’s programming is now available from 24/7 children’s cable channels and on-demand from cable providers, via major internet sites and popular apps, like the PBS app, and streamed from sources such as YouTube and Netflix. Clearly, the market has not failed to provide abundant amounts of children’s video programming. And this leads to an obvious question – are the FCC’s current rules requiring broadcast TV stations to offer three hours of children’s educational programming every week per every channel they air (including all multicast channels) still necessary? We don’t believe so.
At the very least, the existing “kid vid” rules are overly rigid, causing serious unintended consequences including forcing broadcasters to run programing that meets regulatory criteria but isn’t attractive to parents and their children. Just one example, for any program to “count” under the FCC’s rules, it must, among other requirements, be regularly scheduled, aired during certain hours and last 30 minutes or longer. Predictably enough, these mandates have killed off differently scheduled and formatted children’s programs. Many of us still remember CBS network’s In the News, short-form news stories aimed at children, and ABC’s popular Schoolhouse Rock and Afterschool Specials. But specials aren’t regularly scheduled, and apparently short news isn’t good news, and thus those programs disappeared from the airwaves – a direct result of nonsensical regulation and government overreach.
For all these reasons, Frontiers of Freedom welcomes the FCC’s draft notice proposing changes to its outdated and harmful children’s TV rules. We support the FCC’s proposals – here – and its overall effort to reduce unnecessary and burdensome government regulation.
This week, the House Ways and Means Committee, led by Chairman Kevin Brady released a new bipartisan bill to help tackle grave concerns that have persisted surrounding the nation’s opioid epidemic. The Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act would begin to help address the staggering vulnerabilities within U.S. Postal Service for delivering packages from overseas.
For years, drug traffickers have been able to successfully ship deadly opioids into the U.S. through the Postal Service due to agency’s inadequate procedures which have omitted key practices to collect advance electronic data and thus have failed to properly identify threats.
Currently, the agency does not thoroughly trace senders and receivers or even electronically track packages sent through foreign postal services. Even dating back to 2014, former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder said he was gravely concerned about the number of people sending illegal drugs through the USPS.
Now, thanks to Chairman Brady, as well as Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Representatives Mike Bishop (R-MI), Dave Reichert (R-WA), and John Faso (R-NY) we appear to have a fully viable plan to mitigate the Postal Service’s deficiencies that have contributed to this epidemic.
Frontiers of Freedom president George Landrith stated, “It is time the U.S. Postal service began putting the public safety of Americans first. Right now the Postal Service’s security standards are not up to code. This allows for unsafe products, food, other hazardous materials, and drugs to enter into the United States.
“We must support legislation that will help stop a national crisis and force the U.S. Postal service to get in line with best practices in shipping and thoroughly adopt the readily available technologies for targeting the potential threats that have persisted in inbound packages.”
Washington D.C. – This week, the U.S. Postal Service released its financial report for the midway point of the 2018 fiscal year, which detailed yet another distressing loss of $1.3 billion. After monitoring the Postal Service’s financial mismanagement for years, Frontiers of Freedom expressed its continued concern about the agency’s direction.
“The latest losses posted by the USPS offer yet another indicator that the organization and its governing bodies have neglected to offer meaningful solutions to avert a likely taxpayer bailout of the Postal Service,” said George Landrith, president of Frontiers of Freedom.
Landrith further discussed the Trump Administration’s work to address the beleaguered agency: “The new Postal Task Force to be led by Secretary Mnuchin offers a promising step towards implementing structural changes that the USPS needs. It is imperative that the Task Force identify the right path forward. Any serious proposal will ensure that the Postal Service fixes its deteriorating letter mail service for all Americans and becomes a sustainable operation well into the future. But making minor course corrections at this point will not get the job done. The problems at the USPS are serious enough that real and bold reforms are required. There is no time to waste.”
As Frontiers of Freedom notes, the Postal Service’s ability to provide reliable and efficient mail service to all, and especially for those in rural communities, is a significant point of concern. A recent report by the USPS’ regulator found that the Postal Service failed to meet its performance objectives for every single service included within First-Class Mail.
Previous policymaking and management practices have proven insufficient for correcting the Postal Service’s course and the Administration must now seek new drastic changes to ensure a genuinely accountable and sustainable operation.
Last month, I wrote a column highlighting how Elon Musk’s lack of transparency with issues surrounding Tesla and SpaceX would likely lead to more fatalities and security concerns in the years to come.
At the time, front and center in the news was Elon Musk’s short-circuiting of a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation into a fatality-causing Tesla Model X crash, as well as the ostensible three-year cover-up of the reasons for a massive SpaceX explosion. As any regulatory policy analyst will tell you, there are always reasons for fearing sunlight, and they are generally never good ones.
As the breaking news of the day from this week has shown, the case of Elon Musk is of no exception.
Reports from last night indicate that on Tuesday night, two teenagers were killed in Fort Lauderdale due to their Tesla Model S bursting into flames. This incident marks the third Tesla fatality in months.
The NTSB is again investigating the situation. This time, it would be best for Elon Musk to cooperate with their wishes, refraining from hanging the phone up on them or posting non-NTSB vetted crash information on his website. The billionaire can continue posting information that leads readers to think the fault lies with the drivers, not Tesla itself, but with each passing incident, his story will have fewer and fewer believers. There seem to be clear quality control issues on the corporate side. The sooner Musk allows regulators to do their job uninterrupted, the sooner these fatalities will likely come to an end.
The ostensible consequences that come with Musk self-investigating his problems on the Tesla side are bad enough, but things do not get any better when analyzing the recent news surrounding SpaceX’s possible transparency problems.
While Musk’s internal review found a supplier-provided strut, not personal imprecision, was to blame for one of his many rocket explosions, a NASA report that came out three years later contradicts Musk’s reasoning. It seems to blame SpaceX for using a lower-grade part without adequate screening and testing.
Even worse, a Washington Post report from this week demonstrates how Congress and NASA safety advisers fear that a tragedy of equal or worse magnitude will occur with astronauts on board – a milestone that SpaceX still plans on achieving by the end of the year.
SpaceX has been adamant about getting more propellant for its buck by shrinking the fuel in cold temperatures so more can be loaded in tanks, but according to experts, the company may do so at the expense of human lives. For Musk’s plan to work, SpaceX will need to load the propellant just before launch time while astronauts are on board – a huge problem when considering the reasonable possibility of it sparking and exploding. As a result, A NASA advisory group cautioned that Musk’s “load-and-go” strategy is “contrary to booster safety criteria that has been in place for over 50 years.” Another expert stated that NASA “never could get comfortable with the safety risks” because “when you’re loading densified propellants, it is not an inherently stable situation.” Yet Musk is still carrying on as if nothing happened, just as he is with Tesla despite the egregious concerns that come with it. Just how different would the unsettling events in Musk’s orbit be if the NTSB and NASA managed to conduct investigations promptly and without political pressure? We may never know, but the state of play would almost certainly be better than it currently is.
With each passing week, more and more lives continue to become jeopardized by Musk’s companies. Policymakers and auditors must begin addressing the problems at hand with a greater sense of urgency before yet another tragedy occurs. What’s done is done, but that does not mean these problems cannot be rectified now before the start of darker, gloomier chapters. The American people deserve better.
While the media-driven scandals du jour roll on, President Trump quietly goes about reshaping the U.S. economy. Case in point: Last week, Trump directed the EPA to cut even more red tape for manufacturers. And he’s not done yet.
The idea is not to get rid of air quality standards, but to make sure that the science behind them is transparent and reliable — and not just part of someone’s political agenda, as has often been the case in the past.
The White House says that U.S. National Ambient Air Quality Standards constitute “outdated and unnecessary barriers to growth.” Under the new standards, EPA will process state-submitted plans within 18 months, for instance, giving regulated industries a clearer idea of what they can and can’t do, quickly. And the permitting process for individual projects will eventually be limited to a year. Continue reading
Chicago recently started taxing users of increasingly popular ride-sharing services so it could spend more on its increasingly unpopular mass transit rail service. This sort of thinking only makes sense to government officials.
When app-based ride sharing services Uber and Lyft started to catch on, cities thought they posed a dire threat to their local monopoly taxi services and tried to thwart them. But while ride sharing did cut into taxi ridership, it is also having a big impact on mass transit.
In Chicago, for example, ridership fell almost 4% in 2016 and another 3.5% last year. Ridership on weekends has plunged even further.
New York’s subway system lost ridership in each of the past two years, something that is virtually unprecedented in the city.
In Washington, D.C., ridership on its buses and subway system was down 12% in February, compared with two years ago. And in Boston, ridership dropped 3.3% from 2015 to 2017. Continue reading
By Steve Eder • New York Times
ALTAMONT, N.Y. — For eight weeks every fall, Indian Ladder Farms, a fifth generation
family operation near Albany, kicks into peak season.
The farm sells homemade apple pies, fresh cider and warm doughnuts. Schoolchildren arrive by the busload to learn about growing apples. And as customers pick fruit from trees, workers fill bins with apples, destined for the farm’s shop and grocery stores.
This fall, amid the rush of commerce — the apple harvest season accounts for about half of Indian Ladder’s annual revenue — federal investigators showed up. They wanted to check the farm’s compliance with migrant labor rules and the Fair Labor Standards Act, which sets pay and other requirements for workers.
Suddenly, the small office staff turned its focus away from making money to
placating a government regulator.
The investigators arrived on a Friday in late September and interviewed the
farm’s management and a group of laborers from Jamaica, who have special work
visas. The investigators hand delivered a notice and said they would be back the
following week, when they asked to have 22 types of records available. The
request included vehicle registrations, insurance documents and time sheets —
reams of paper in all.
FCC Chairman Pai recently announced plans to revise and update outdated and out-of-touch media ownership rules. To say that these rules are a relic of a bygone era is a gross understatement; they predate the advent of the internet and were adopted long before Americans went online for news and “over-the-top” for TV programming. The FCC adopted many of its current media ownership rules when Walter Cronkite ruled the nightly news and Lucille Ball was the Queen of Comedy. It is long past time that the FCC adjust regulations to account for an information-rich landscape that never was envisioned more than 40 years ago. Continue reading
Frontiers of Freedom will Host a Conference on Monday, October 2, 2017 from 12 noon until 4 p.m. at the National Press Club in Washington, DC (529 14th St NW) in the Press Club’s First Amendment Lounge.
Frontiers of Freedom invites the public, the media, policy makers, and opinion leaders to attend this important conference and briefing.
Doug Bandow – Senior Fellow, Cato Institute
George Landrith, President, Frontiers of Freedom
Dr. Miklos K. Radvanyi – Vice President, Frontiers of Freedom
Peter Roff, Contributing Editor for Opinion, US News & World Report
Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, Vice Pres, London Center for Policy Research
Lunch is provided. There is no cost to attend or for lunch. However, to attend, you must reserve your seat and lunch and RSVP by providing us with your name, firm or affiliation, and email address. Guests are also welcome, but they too much RSVP.
“We feel the time has come to examine America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia. They say they are our allies. But do their actions back up their words?” said George Landrith, Frontiers of Freedom Institute president. “For far too long their contribution to the world’s problems has gone unexamined. We propose to take a look and see what’s really there.”
Frontiers of Freedom will be at the 2017 Conservative Leadership Conference in Las Vegas on Saturday, September 16th.
At the Conservative Leadership Conference, we will be presenting a panel discussion on emerging issues with:
We will be discussing at least three important, emerging issues:
Freedom through Commerce
EPA & Superfund Reform
High Speed Rail Boondoggles
Hope you will join us in at the Conservative Leadership Conference. Click HERE for more details.
Frontiers of Freedom reacted with continued frustration today in response to the U.S. Postal Service’s latest financial statement detailing a loss of $2.1 billion in the third quarter of the 2017 fiscal year.
“The latest poor financial results from the U.S. Postal Service this week only reinforces the fact that without changes, the USPS’ debt just continues to grow,” said Frontiers of Freedom President, George Landrith. “Losing billions of dollars each year is simply inexcusable and leaders of the U.S. Postal Service should be making dramatic improvements to ensure the agency’s financial sustainability.”
The latest losses this week ominously point to a high probability of the USPS ending the year in the red, which will mark the 11th consecutive year with a multi-billion loss. Year after year, data provided by the USPS details the financial strength of letter mail products, which often earn twice as much revenue compared to their costs. However, the Postal Service is lobbying its regulator, the PRC, to soon grant extensive authority to raise letter mail prices as part of its 10-year review that is due next month.
A wiser course for the PRC would involve closer scrutiny of competitive products and new ill-advised ventures, like grocery delivery, same-day services, and expanded parcels products – all items that USPS fails to fully detail the associated costs and evades proper analyses regarding their long-term financial viability.
By making sound management decisions and focusing on its core mail products, the U.S. Postal Service can best serve its largest base of customers and limit its potential exposure to taxpayers.
Frontiers of Freedom released the following statement:
Frontiers of Freedom opposes the federal government placing caps on medical malpractice damages. H.R. 1215, entitled the Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017, is at its core a federal power grab — making what has always been a matter of state law, a federal matter.
Frontiers of Freedom signed a coalition letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, outlining the groups’ opposition to H.R. 1215. That letter can be found here.
Our system of constitutional federalism envisioned a dynamic arrangement where states acted as laboratories of liberty. It is a serious mistake to override that process with federal mandates in an arena that belongs to the states.
The idea of state legislatures and state law placing caps on tort damages may be worthwhile. But tort law has always been a matter of state law and our constitutional system of federalism demands that Congress respect that states, not the federal government, are responsible for state tort law.
H.R. 1215 stands in direct contradiction to the Constitution’s checks and balances, system of federalism, and separation of powers. One of Frontiers of Freedom’s primary missions is to preserve the Constitution’s checks and balances, system of federalism, separation of powers, and guarantee of basic rights as the foundation of America’s freedom. Thus, H.R. 1215 violates the very principles Frontiers of Freedom stands for.
H.R. 1215 represents an egregious and unwarranted expansion of federal power over the traditional role of states in tort law, not to mention regulation of health care. With the rigorous national debate on repeal of the Affordable Care Act, it should be obvious that nationalizing healthcare or even tort law is fraught with danger and could have very negative policy outcomes.
Nearly all states have spoken to the issue of malpractice damages either by instituting caps of their own or, alternatively, barring such restrictions legislatively or via court decision. It is not the proper role of the federal government to overrule state governments on matters that are entirely within the state’s purview. It is time for Congress to stop the continued creeping encroachment of federal mandates over state law and issues that should rightfully be regulated at the state and local level.
When I heard that Sen. Elizabeth Warren had introduced the “Over the Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017” claiming that she wanted to create an all new over-the-counter (OTC) category for personal sound amplification products (PSAPs), I knew something disingenuous was afoot.
Sen. Warren has not been a champion of deregulation or of making government less intrusive. So I dug a little deeper, and found that Warren’s bill expands the power of federal bureaucrats, eliminates state authority, and reduces consumer access to amplification devices by making them more expensive and highly regulated. That’s not how she advertises the bill, but that’s how it would be described if truth in labeling laws applied to Congress.
Today, without her proposed law, there are PSAPs legally available at Best Buy, Walmart, and thousands of other stores and outlets for very reasonable prices. Anyone can buy these devices. They simply amplify sound — some use them for bird watching, others to snoop on conversations that are ordinarily out of ear shot.
These PSAPs are different from medical hearing aids in that hearing aids are designed for people who have measurable hearing loss and require a doctor to help determine the cause of the hearing loss and the most appropriate way to correct the problem. All hearing loss isn’t the same. So doctors play an appropriate role in helping the patient find and tailor the right solution. These medical hearing aids are not used for snooping or songbird listening. They are specifically tailored to the patient.
The bottom line is that PSAPs are not medical hearing aids and they don’t need to be regulated like medical hearing aids.
But Sen. Warren wants to subject PSAPs to FDA regulation and explicitly lock states out of any role in the process, and then designate these PSAPs as available “over-the-counter” as if that were some big new innovation — conveniently failing to mention that they are already available to anyone at thousands of stores.
So what is Sen. Warren really up to?
It appears that Sen. Warren is working at the behest of big corporations who feel they could make more money selling PSAPs if they were regulated because that would make them seem more “big time” and “high tech” and make them seen more like medical hearing aids. That would allow them to charge more and give them new marketing material. In fact, Bose, the famous speaker maker, markets a relatively expensive PSAP called “HearPhones.” They are located in Sen. Warren’s home state. These amplification devices aren’t medical hearing aids, but they could pretend to be “quasi” hearing aids with Sen. Warren’s new bill. That’s the real goal — more sales, higher prices, and more profits for Bose and other corporations.
But Sen. Warren’s bill will do nothing to give consumers and patients greater access or lower prices. And it certainly won’t lead to more innovation. A new layer of regulation is not a stimulator of innovation — it squashes innovation. What it will do is empower federal bureaucrats and lead to poorer healthcare by eliminating the doctor-patient relationship in finding the right hearing aid and tailoring it to the patient’s needs. Without a doctor’s input, serious hearing problems can go undiagnosed and if untreated, options can be forever lost.
Another downside to designating something over-the-counter is that insurance and Medicaid coverage usually cease to cover them. So in Sen. Warren’s zeal to confer a regulatory benefit upon a few well-heeled corporations hoping for bigger profits, she is willing to endanger coverage for legitimate medical hearing aids to those who need them most — including many veterans with hearing loss due to combat injuries.
So while Sen. Warren makes it sound like she wants to spur innovation, reduce costs, and improve patient access to hearing aids, she isn’t shooting straight. In fact, she is doing the exact opposite. It is a great con. A lot like when she claimed she was a Native American to help her land a great job at Harvard. The truth wasn’t important. She wove a story — even though false — to benefit her. Likewise, truth is the first casualty with her fake Over the Counter Hearing Aid Act. She benefits big corporations and big government, not consumers or patients.
George Landrith is the President and CEO of Frontiers of Freedom, a public policy think tank devoted to promoting a strong national defense, free markets, individual liberty, and constitutionally limited government.
Who is George Soros? Born Schwartz Gyorgy (in Hungarian the family name comes first) on August 12, 1930, in Budapest, Hungary, to Schwartz Tivadar, a lawyer, and Schwartz Erzsebet, the co-owner of the family’s silk shop, he grew up in a secular, upper middle class family that was openly anti-Semitic. In response to the burgeoning anti-Semitism in Hungary, the father changed the family name in 1936 from Schwartz that clearly identified the family as Jewish to the Hungarian sounding last name of Soros. The family survived the deportations by obtaining forged Christian birth certificates. He fled in 1947 to England. In 1954, he graduated from the London School of Economics in philosophy. In 1956, he immigrated to the United States.
In 1969, Soros established the Double Eagle hedge fund which in 1970 was followed by Soros Fund Management. In 1973 renamed as the Quantum Fund, it has grown from $12 millions to over $40 billion. Soros’s political involvement has intensified with the growth of his personal wealth, estimated to be around $25 billion. In addition to financing far left organizations in the United States and across the world from 1979 on,he has started to finance dissidents across the former Soviet block. Advocating “open societies” whose declared objective was to open up the communist dictatorships through the free flow of political and scientific ideas, Soros financed the Solidarity movement in Poland, the Charter 77 in the former Czechoslovakia, and Andrei Sakharov’s efforts in the former Soviet Union. In 1984, he established the first Open Society Institute in his native Hungary.
By The Hill•
Two years have passed since a state-sponsored cyber-attack caused one of the largest data breaches in U.S. history, and it appears that a foreign government may once again be on the verge of gaining access to a treasure trove of sensitive American information.
For those short of memory, I’m referring to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) hack where over 21.5 million records were stolen, most likely, by state-sponsored Chinese hackers. The hack, which was discovered in April 2015, included personally-identifiable information such as Social Security numbers, addresses, dates and places of birth and personal financial information.
Instead of using the anniversary as an opportunity to renew the American government’s commitment to protect its citizens from acts of cyber warfare and foreign espionage, it appears that they are instead, inexplicably, considering approval of a transaction that would provide the Chinese a permanent pipeline to the sensitive personal information of millions of Americans. Continue reading