Catching up on a story from last summer we somehow never linked: Oregon has become the first state to do away with single-family zoning in larger cities. Building single-family homes will remain perfectly legal, but localities with populations above 10,000 would have to allow property owners to build duplexes as well, while those with populations above 25,000 will also have to permit triplexes, fourplexes and “cottage clusters.” [Elliot Njus, The Oregonian, Christian Britschgi/Reason, Ilya Somin]
Triple-distilled madness to outrun most any Portlandia script: “If a majority of the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission has its way, new private buildings downtown will be required to include spaces where houseless Portlanders can ‘rest,’ which could include sleeping and pitching tents.” [Nigel Jaquiss, Willamette Week]
- Oregon: “Union-Backed Ballot Initiative Would Limit Grocery Stores to 2 Self-Checkout Machines” [Christian Britschgi, Reason]
- Not unexpectedly, given its own precedent, Ninth Circuit rules Idaho inmate entitled to sex reassignment surgery [Amanda Peacher and James Dawson, NPR; pre-ruling (July) KRCC/NPR podcast and interview with Peacher, I’m quoted as in earlier coverage; earlier]
- I wrote a personal recollection at Cato of philanthropist David Koch;
- “Flight attendants and airport staff now get trained to intervene in what federal officials (falsely) portray as an epidemic of airline-based sex trafficking which can be spotted by good Samaritans who know the ‘signs.'” And mistakes will happen [Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Reason]
- Population growth has caused the Ninth Circuit to bulge at the seams. Left-right political advantage isn’t a good reason to break it up, but there are plenty of nonpolitical reasons that are good [Ilya Shapiro and Nathan Harvey, George Mason Law Review]
- “The legal profession was regarded by both the authors of The Federalist and Alexis de Tocqueville as the anchor of the republic —- a barrier to destabilizing innovation and a constraint on excessive democratic passions.” What happened? [John McGinnis]
For small businesses, regulation vies with taxes as the most complained-of public policy issue. Commonly, however, no one regulation is singled out as causing most of the problem: it’s more the cumulative and interactive hassle of various burdens, especially as a company grows or tries to enter new markets or take on new functions. The Federalist Society has launched a “regulatory thicket” project aimed at shedding light on the problem. Among its products so far: an overview paper by Anastasia Boden et al.; a paper on how the thicket operates in one urban jurisdiction, the District of Columbia [Yesim Sayin Taylor]; a video on how it affects an Oregon couple’s home-based telecommunications services firm; and a teleforum with Brooks Rainwater and Luke Wake.
A related op-ed [Braden Boucek and Luke Wake, Real Clear Policy] notes that reformers often appeal to state legislators, with ideas such as sunset laws and regulatory impact statements for new legislation. But other actors can be involved too:
One especially interesting proposal that has been tried in Arizona with success is giving people a way to challenge regulations in court when they needlessly burden the right to earn a living. That way lawmakers are not the sole party able to bring about reform.
State governors are also in a position to help trim the regulatory thicket in many cases. Governors might follow Canada’s success in controlling the growth of regulation by requiring government agencies to eliminate regulatory impositions for every new mandate. President Trump’s executive order to eliminate two regulations for every new regulation is another instructive example. Likewise, state legislatures might assign the task of reviewing and eliminating regulation to a special commission.
- Internal Google pay study “found, to the surprise of just about everyone, that men were paid less money than women for doing similar work.” [Daisuke Wakabayashi, New York Times] “What the Data Say About Equal Pay Day” [Chelsea Follett, Cato; Hans Bader]
- Otherwise routine on-the-job injuries can have dire consequences for those suffering hemophilia, and a manufacturing company learns its “insurance costs could spike” as a result if it employs three hemophiliac brothers. Don’t think you can turn them away for a reason like that, says EEOC [commission press release on ADA settlement with Signature Industrial Services, LLC involving $135,000 payment and “other significant relief”]
- Multnomah County (Portland), Oregon to pay $100,000 settlement to black worker who says she was retaliated against after complaining about “Blue Lives Matter” flag [Aimee Green, Oregonian; Blair Stenvick, Portland Mercury]
- “The social justice madness of college campuses is now seeping into HR departments of large employers. The result is the rise of the woke corporation, and it might affect the way you work” [Toby Young, Spectator (U.K.)]
- “The FDNY’s diversity monitor has cost the city $23 million in 7 years” [Susan Edelman, New York Post]
- Before taking an exam required of federal employees in Canada, best to study up on intersectionality theory [Josh DeHaas on Twitter, GBA+, Tristin Hopper/National Post]
Laws on hate crimes raise longstanding questions of fairness both in theory and application, including (when enacted at the federal level) dangers of overextension of federal criminal law and inroads on the prohibition against double jeopardy. The role of hate crimes as culture war rallying points can make things worse. In the Jussie Smollett episode, journalists came under fire for raising questions about unlikely elements of the actor’s story — Smollett had been “doubly victimized as the subject of speculation by the media industry and broader culture,” said the head of one progressive outfit — and even for hedging their stories about with words like “allegedly.”
After Smollett’s story fell apart, some advocates argued that no matter what might have happened this one time, data show that hate crimes are sharply on the rise and reports of them hardly ever prove unfounded. Is that the case? I tackle the question in a new piece at Inside Sources
An oft-repeated talking point is that FBI statistics last year, to quote Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), “revealed a 17 percent increase in the number of hate crimes in America.”
Let’s be polite and say those FBI figures are difficult to interpret….
In the state of Oregon, the college town of Eugene reported 72 hate crimes to the FBI in 2017, about as many as the rest of the state put together. According to the Daily Emerald, the difference reflects “the city’s active approach. … The city carefully catalogs reported instances … and even classifies certain crimes — such as vandalism — as a hate crime that other cities would classify in a different way.”
Word is that the Eugene approach is spreading as other cities get interested in steps such as asking officers to write up on their own initiative as a hate incident a graffiti epithet they might see, rather than only if a public complaint happens to come in.
Should those methods spread in coming years, the FBI count of reported hate incidents is sure to mount — yet still not demonstrate with any certainty a genuine rise.
For whatever reason, many of us are predisposed to accept findings that seem to highlight the prevalence of terrible injustice. The impulse to believe extends to matters of scholarship. So it was with a recently retracted 2014 study that purportedly found “structural stigma” in society shortens the lives of LGBT persons by a remarkable 12 years. The authors acknowledged that they had inadvertently committed a coding error with the data; once it was corrected, there was no statistically significant correlation at all between “structural stigma” and mortality. Yet the paper, with its inherently implausible findings, had already achieved “highly cited paper” status, and has continued to garner citations even after its retraction.
More: David Kopel 2003 (recommending stronger penalties for the perpetration of hoaxes).
- You don’t need to be a religious believer to think the Supreme Court should uphold the continued display of the Bladensburg war memorial cross [George Will/syndicated, Eugene “Jesse” Nash IV and Victoria Gomes-Boronat, Capital News Service] Cato filed a brief in the case [Ilya Shapiro, Trevor Burrus, Patrick Moran, and Michael Finch on The American Legion v. American Humanist Association]
- “The Second Amendment In The New Supreme Court” [Federalist Society conference with Renee Lerner, Stephen Halbrook, Mark W. Smith, and others; Halbrook on the Court’s decision to hear New York State Rifle and Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York, earlier on which] Map of state changes liberalizing concealed carry law since 1986 [Eugene Volokh]
- In the spirit of balance, here’s a more cheerful and positive view of an Article V convention than the one I take [Paul Starobin, American Affairs Journal]
- “Bruno Leoni and the Search for Certainty in Law” [Alberto Mingardi, Law and Liberty]
- Oregon carbon emission credit system falls more heavily on out-of-state than on in-state suppliers, and the Dormant Commerce Clause has something to say about that [Ilya Shapiro on Cato cert amicus brief in American Fuel & Petroleum Manufacturers v. O’Keeffe]
- Would a wealth tax be constitutional? [Richard Epstein, Hoover]
- Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ro Khanna introduce legislation to punish employers whose workforce draws on government programs, and even lefty Center for Budget and Policy Priorities sees plenty of problems with that [Steve Goldstein/MarketWatch; Robert Greenstein, Sharon Parrott, Chye-Ching Huang, CBPP; Zuri Davis, Reason; related Ryan Bourne thread]
- “Prevailing Wage Legislation and the Continuing Significance of Race” [David E. Bernstein, Notre Dame Journal on Legislation]
- Study finds that after Minnesota jacked up minimum wage, youth employment and restaurant employment fell, restaurant prices rose [Noah Williams, Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy]
- In a sleeper SCOTUS case this term, Encino Motorcars v. Navarro, on whether service advisors at car dealerships are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Justice Thomas for a 5-4 majority came down in favor of the position that FLSA exemptions should be read fairly, rather than narrowly; let’s hope this points to a wider retreat from the unsound practice of reading unnatural breadth into purportedly remedial statutes even when they contain no instruction to do so [Federalist Society podcast with Tammy McCutchen; Sachin Pandya/Workplace Prof (critical of ruling), Andrew Strom/On Labor (likewise)]
- “Why a Democratic City Council Is Working With a Republican Congress To Overturn a Minimum Wage Bill” [Eric Boehm on D.C.’s Initiative 77] “How Regulation Eliminated Your Waiter” [Ira Stoll on California labor laws]
- 1915 study on Oregon: “The belief was very prevalent among store women that the minimum wage had wrought only harm to them as a whole.” [David Henderson quoting Marie L. Obenauer and Bertha von der Nienburg, Bureau of Labor Statistics]
A mini-roundup: “How State Pension Funds — and 401k Managers — Prioritize Politics over Returns” [Ike Brannon, Cato/Forbes.com, more; related, Eric V. Schlecht, Economics 21] “The California state teacher retirement system open letter to Apple about ‘smartphone addiction’ provides another point in favor of giving these workers individual accounts with a private provider.” [Caleb Brown on Twitter] “Those shares belong to the college savers, not him”: Illinois treasurer uses 529 funds to push Facebook, other firms on political issues [Cole Lauterbach, Illinois News Network]
- High cross-border remittance costs for globally mobile workers slow ascent from poverty, and know-your-customer and money-laundering regulations have made things worse [Money and Banking]
- “The Supreme Court should find ALJs to be ‘officers of the United States’ and thus make them subject to presidential appointment and removal.” [Ilya Shapiro on Cato merits amicus filing in Lucia v. Securities and Exchange Commission]
- “Settlement of Lawyer-Driven ‘Merger Tax’ Litigation Stumbles in New York” [Greg Herbers, WLF]
- “Financial Regulation: The Apotheosis of the Administrative State?” 2017 National Lawyers Convention Federalist Society panel with Richard Epstein, Hal Scott, Peter Wallison, and Arthur Wilmarth, moderated by Judge Carlos Bea;
- With advances in Oregon and even California, deregulation of commercial insurance lines is having a moment [Ray Lehmann, Insurance Journal; Lehmann’s 2017 Insurance Regulation Report Card for R Street Institute] Perennially troubled Massachusetts, on the other hand, continues slide in same survey [Agency Checklists]
- Tech companies have been experimenting with old and lawful device of dual class stock and SEC shouldn’t be allowed to use raised eyebrow power to stop that [Bainbridge, WLF]