April 26 roundup

  • FDA’s costly menu labeling rules set to begin enforcement May 5. Any hope of blocking them? [Baylen Linnekin, earlier]
  • “Justice Department Disability Demands Raise Serious Free Speech Issues” [Hans Bader, CEI, earlier on the Berkeley online course takedown]
  • Government shouldn’t be entitled to shut down recording of its officers in public places when it doesn’t interfere with law enforcement [Ilya Shapiro and Devin Watkins on Cato Institute brief in 9th Circuit case of Jacobson v. Department of Homeland Security]
  • I knew the late Leo Rosten a bit in 1990s NYC. Now Dan Klein has a fun paper on The Joys of Yiddish as an economics text [SSRN via David Henderson]
  • Many libertarians diagnose “crony capitalism” as a leading source of American ills. How good are their examples? [Arnold Kling]
  • Signs in India proclaiming who owns a given plot of land point to a vulnerability of legal system [Alex Tabarrok] “The Uttar Pradesh Association of Dead People” [Tabarrok on this 2009 Open Magazine piece]


  • In re the crony capitalism post: Comments there seem to be disabled, but I’ll add pro sports. Can’t have a team without a publicly funded stadium.

    Aerospace is chock full of incredible barriers to entry enforced by the Govt and subsidies – Airbus was born out of it, Boeing sucks the taxpayers of Washington dry.

    Agriculture. Milk pricing regs, Wisconsin’s not butter bans. Ethanol or corn. Sugar – cane vs beets. ’nuff said.

    I seem to recall a stick save at the expense of bond holders in the auto industry.

    Lumber is getting a hand in the last couple of days.

    Maker of epi-pens by the FDA blocking any and all competing forms of auto injecting adrenaline. In fact, just about the whole pharma patent racket (look, I have a 5.4 mg pill with a blue coating instead of the previous 5.5 mg capsule, of exactly the same drug, I get to extend my patent on it another 14 years!!!!!)

    Education-Industrial complex, to include law schools, with the monopoly on credentials.


    Cable or internet or garbage service in any city – cities typically enforce a one provider monopoly and / or force you to buy the product (eg trash service in lieu of hauling your own to the transfer station).

    And on, and on, and on……..

    • The military industrial complex.

      Anything having to do with national security.

      Anything having to do with licensing (although for some, e.g., medical fields), crony capitalism might need to be weighed against public safety.

      Electoral politics (not the politicians, per se, but the machines used to elect them).

  • “or garbage service in any city”

    I’ve heard of that sort of thing, but it doesn’t exist in my neck of the woods (Wisconsin).

    Here, garbage collection is typically done by a public utility that is part of either the municipal or county government.

    • Well MattS what you have then is an over priced, bloated bunch of Government union types collecting fat paychecks. More or less a cartel all the same.

      Why some areas feel garbage collection is a fundamental Government function like the Police is beyond me.

      Seattle (my example city for most of what is wrong since they get so much wrong) imposes one provider on the City and mandates its use – you can’t not sign up for it, no matter how thrifty you are with your non-recyclable waste. Allegedly the City (and for the Govt provided areas) feels that they have to do this to insure trash isn’t illegally dumped all over. Of course, they can’t seem to wrap their minds around the alternative free market solution to this problem which would be this.

      Seattle gets rid of the monopoly. Any and all comers that meet minimum standards can enter or exit the business of trash hauling. Individuals and businesses instead of having to sign up for a mandated service, must merely provide proof of responsible trash disposal (to show they’re not illegally dumping). That could be in the form of a service contract with any of the providers licensed to do business, or receipts from self hauling to the transfer station.

      Yet another reason I will never live in Seattle.

  • I’m surprised that nobody has mentioned the largest beneficiary of “crony capitalism”. Unions.