Bad Investment

August 16, 2012

Turns out Social Security may not only be an unwise investment for new and future retirees, it may not be an investment at all. A recent Associated Press report noted that today’s new retirees are part of the first generation that has paid more into the Social Security system than they will actually receive after retirement.

One such example from a 2011 Urban Institute study was given in the AP article:

“A married couple retiring last year after both spouses earned average lifetime wages paid about $598,000 in Social Security taxes during their careers. They can expect to collect about $556,000 in benefits, if the man lives to 82 and the woman lives to 85 …”

Though Medicare has come back into the spotlight with the media attention toward Mitt Romney’s new VP pick and his now infamous proposal of remaking the single-payer healthcare system into a “premium support” system (something Romney also supports), reform of the other big entitlement elephant in the room, Social Security, has rarely been discussed since the failed attempts by the last presidential administration to partially “privatize” it.

Perhaps Social Security reform deserves new attention. After all, the program’s own trustees state in their latest annual report that after 2033, “tax income would be sufficient to pay only about three-quarters of scheduled benefits…”  At that point, one could just as well literally hide their money under their mattress and guarantee a more secure retirement. Assuming they remember where they hid it, they at least would not lose any of their money. Not to even mention the problem of inflation.

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A Half Century Without the Fairness Doctrine

August 4, 2012

Twenty-five years ago today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted an order effectively repealing the infamous broadcast “Fairness Doctrine.” The Doctrine required that broadcast licensees had to present reasonable opportunity for the airing of contesting points of view when covering issues of public importance to their community. For nearly 40 years, it was upheld in the name of protecting the ‘public interest.’

Lost in this more positive-right view of freedom of speech often espoused by proponents of the Doctrine was the harm it had on the more negative-right view of freedom of speech. But over time the negative-right view won out. It became viewed as a restriction on free speech, creating a “chilling effect” which led broadcasters to avoid covering any controversial public issues due to the requirement to ensure all sides of the issue were covered.

To commemorate the repeal, Reason.tv has posted the following interview with Thomas Hazlett, a professor of law and economics at George Mason University, discussing the history and various issues with the Doctrine:

In addition, I actually wrote my master’s thesis on the subject, relating it to the two conceptions of liberty: positive and negative, as postulated by Isaiah Berlin. In addition to the “chilling effect” argument, I also argued in the thesis that the positive-right conception exemplified in the Doctrine lends itself to an uncomfortable level of paternalism on the part of government regulators and a constitutional abridgement of negative-right speech. For those with probably too much time on their hands, all 184 pages can be read here.


Con Air

November 28, 2010

A lighter look at the TSA pat downs from Reason.tv:

No longer the friendly skies?


I Want Your Money

September 21, 2010

The trailer for an interesting-looking new movie on government spending:

Here is the website for the film.


Reasons Not to Regulate the Internet

June 21, 2010

Here’s a recent video from Reason.tv on reasons why the FCC should not get itself involved in regulation of the internet:

The point raised in the last part of the clip rasing the specter of the FCC’s inevitable regulation of internet content (not just traffic as it now wants to) should not be overlooked. Throughout its history of regulating the broadcast spectrum, it has been more than happy to regulate airwave content — even political content — all in the name of the nebulous “public interest.” There’s no reason to doubt it wouldn’t eventually like to do the same with the internet.

* Note: I’m currently writing my graduate thesis on the FCC and its regulation of political content over the airwaves.

* The preceding was originally posted on the Young Americans for Liberty blog.


‘Jurisdiction Over Everything’

May 20, 2010

Reason.tv has posted this audio of a legal aide to FCC Commissioner Michael Copps jokingly admitting that her boss would “love to have jurisdiction over everything”:

(More on the FCC’s dubious role in regulating communications in the name of the supposed “public interest”  here, here and here.)

* The preceding was also posted on the Young Americans for Liberty blog.


Poll: Cable News Viewing Habits

May 14, 2010

I was curious about others’ viewing habits. Also, I’m writing my graduate thesis on the broadcast fairness doctrine. So, consider this a test of your own personal fairness doctrine:


A Representative Court?

April 14, 2010

In the wake of the announcement of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens’ retirement from the bench, one point raised in several media outlets has been the fact that he is the only Protestant on the 9-justice court. Take for example this article from The New York Times.

Among other things, the article states the following:

His retirement, which was announced on Friday, makes possible something that would have been unimaginable a generation or two ago — a court without a single member of the nation’s majority religion.

The type of thinking that sees it necessary for the makeup of the Supreme Court to represent the country as a whole is nothing new. The same logic has been behind calls from both Democrats and Republicans for so-called “mainstream” judges, however that may be defined by partisans, as well as pushes to replace outgoing female justices with new female justices.

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FCC Intent on Regulating Net

April 12, 2010

Just like when the mediums of radio and television were new technologies, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is power-hungry once again to regulate a new medium. And it is moving full-steam ahead, despite a recent court ruling limiting the ability of the Commission to regulate.

At question is the FCC’s goal to ensure so-called “network neutrality.” The Commission has been concerned with actions by internet service providers (ISPs) to limit or block the ability of users to access certain services or content over their networks. It had proposed implementing new rules restricting the ability of ISPs to do so. The only problem: According to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the FCC has no statutory basis to justify such regulation.

But, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is still pursuing the Commission’s larger broadband internet plan. The likely results of such added meddling in the free market by a government regulatory agency will be less competition and more government control. This has always been the case with the FCC, whose statutory authority under the Communications Act has been to regulate in the name of the nebulous “public interest” — however that may be defined by regulators at any given time.

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MSNBC At It Again

March 8, 2010

This happened earlier last week on MSNBC:

Any wonder why their ratings are less than stellar compared to Fox News?