Tag Archives: regulation

How NIMH policy effects research

The uncertainty of science: A policy change in how the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) awards grants during the Obama administration has had a profound influence on the research of mental-health in the United States.

An analysis by Nature suggests that the number of clinical trials funded by the NIMH dropped by 45% between 2009 and 2015. This coincides with the agency’s launch, in 2011, of the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) — a framework for research on the mechanisms of mental illness. The NIMH’s roll-out of RDoC included asking researchers to focus more on the biological bases of behaviour — such as brain circuitry and genetics — than on the broader symptoms that clinicians typically use to define and classify mental illness.

The NIMH’s embrace of fundamental research has infuriated many clinical researchers, who see it as an attempt to invalidate their methods — and say that there is scant evidence to support the idea that using RDoC will lead to greater insight or better treatments for mental illness. Many of these researchers also note that NIMH funding for clinical trials has declined steadily over the past decade, adding to the perception that the agency now favours research that uses the RDoC framework.

Read the article. I have no idea if the change in NIMH policy is a good or bad thing. What disturbs me however is the federal government’s overall top-down control over mental-health research. Rather than obtain funding from many different sources — which would allow for the greatest flexibility and the most creativity — this research field appears to depend almost entirely on NIMH grants. Thus, the particular preferences of that agency dictates the nature of the research, whether or not its preferences are right.

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House committee passes new commercial space bill

Last week the House Science committee passed a new commercial space bill designed to streamline the licensing system that presently exists for getting private space missions certified as required under the Outer Space Treaty.

The bill reforms the existing licensing system for commercial remote sensing satellites, streamlining a process that many companies in that sector said results in lengthy delays. It also establishes a “certification” process for commercial spaceflight not otherwise licensed today in order to eliminate any regulatory uncertainty and ensure compliance with the Outer Space Treaty.

“The goal of this bill is not to regulate space broadly,” [Committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas)] said in a statement at the markup. “Instead, the bill takes a commonsense approach by establishing a legal foundation upon which U.S. industry can flourish.”

I am in the process of reviewing the proposed law, and hope to write something detailed about it in the next few days. I should say here that in general this law seems to be trying to address the same issues relating to the Outer Space Treaty that have been discussed during the Senate hearings organized recently by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas). And while to me the resulting bill seems generally good, it still leaves hanging the Outer Space Treaty’s fundamental problems relating to property rights.

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California’s bankrupt house industry, crippled by government

Link here. I can’t quote anything because I’d have to quote the entire article, filled as it is with endless nuggets describing how California’s liberal government policies have made its housing industry unaffordable and dysfunctional. Worse, the solutions proposed by that state’s legislature appear generally to be more of the same, higher taxes, more regulation, and increased restrictions on where and when anyone can build.

As the first commenter at the link says, “Think the Soviet Union.” For California’s future I think Venezuela.

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California passes single payer health plan, without a way to pay for it

Running out of other people’s money: The state senate of California today passed a single payer health plan, essentially proposing to take over the health industry in that state.

It is estimated that the proposal will cost California $400 billion per year, which is twice more than three times that state’s annual budget. A Massachusetts study claims the government health plan can be paid for by adding additional taxes, including 15% payroll tax, but I am exceedingly skeptical. When have any of these kinds of studies ever correctly predicted the true cost of a government program? In truth, never. The cost is always higher than predicted, and the revenues raked in by taxes always less.

The article at the second link about the study has this interesting tidbit about the typical California voter:

The first-ever question to Californians on the topic by the Public Policy Institute of California shows that the vast majority of state residents were in favor of a universal, government-run health care system — as long as it doesn’t raise their taxes. But the prospect of paying the government for health care through new taxes caused support for the proposal to fall from 65 percent to 42 percent.

Another poll, commissioned by the nurses’ union, found that 70 percent of Californians were in favor of a universal, single-payer health care system — a percentage that dropped to 58 percent after those surveyed heard arguments from the opposition about the cost.

In other words, Californians want this stuff given to them, for free. They are living in a fantasy world, which might explain the behavior of their government, dominated by pie-in-the-sky Democrats.

Despite this, I expect California to pass this bill, and then find they can’t pay for it. They will then demand that the U.S. government bail them out.

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15 absurd over-reactions to Trump’s withdrawal from climate treaty

Link here. Though Trump’s rejection of the climate deal is only tangentially related to the federal budget, it definitely has caused a lot of pigs to squeal. I especially like #13 from the leftwing American Civil Liberties Union, because it encompasses every absurd aspect of the modern left’s methods of debate:

Pulling out of the Paris Agreement would be a massive step back for racial justice, and an assault on communities of color across the U.S. — ACLU National (@ACLU) June 1, 2017

Read them all. And remember that these reactions came only an hour or so after Trump made his announcement. Expect even more silliness from the left in the days to come.

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Trump exits Paris climate agreement

As he had promised during the campaign, President Trump today announced that he was withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate treaty that Obama had agreed to (but was never ratified by the Senate).

More here.

Despite Trump’s moderate liberal leanings on many issues (budgets, healthcare), it does appear that when it comes to the environmental movement’s corruption of science and overuse of regulation he is quite willing to do things that will upset the elitist ruling class that has done such a bad job of ruling for the past two decades.

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Trump to keep U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv

President Trump today signed a waiver allowing him to keep the U.S. Israeli embassy in Tel Aviv, rather than moving to Jerusalem as he promised repeatedly on the campaign trail.

This is not the most important political story of the day, but it illustrates what we can expect from Trump. In the end, he backs down under pressure from the Washington elitist community. For example, even though his proposed federal budget suggested a willingness to cut the deficit and eliminate whole agencies, I have doubts he will succeed in getting Congress to agree to any of those cuts.

This is also why I have not yet posted on the various rumors claiming that he plans to exit the Paris climate treaty. Until I actually see him do it, I do not believe it.

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California single-payer $400 billion healthcare plan approved by state committee with no funding

Running out of other people’s money: A California legislative committee yesterday approved a single-payer state healthcare plan that is estimated to cost $400 billion, twice the state’s entire annual budget, without indicating how they intend to pay for it.

Details, details! Who cares about how one pays for an entitlement program? The point is to pass it, and let your great-granchildren figure it out. In this case, however, the problem is so large that it’s impossible to do without the funding in place first, because of the need to pay providers for goods and services. California hardly has an extra $200 billion laying around, and even if it did, it would need to shore up its collapsing pension system first. The state is also on the hook for a $100 billion high-speed rail system whose funding is still unclear. Democrats don’t have much idea about how to pay for their current priorities, let alone their seizure of the health-care sector. [emphasis in original]

The leftists in California want to secede from the U.S. Maybe we should let them, since that state is about to go bankrupt and I am sure most Americans in the remain 49 states don’t wish to stuck with the bill.

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Washington rallies around the Outer Space Treaty

Yesterday Senator Ted Cruz (D-Texas) held the second in what he says will be a series of hearings on the future government regulation of the commercial space industry. The specific focus of this hearing was the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and its effect on private enterprise.

The hearing saw two panels of witnesses, the first three legal experts on the Outer Space Treaty, the second four industry experts from a variety of private space businesses.

Like the first hearing on April 27, the witnesses this time were once again unanimous in their call for a simplification of the present regulatory arrangement. They also emphasized repeatedly that private enterprise should not be required by Congress to get permission to do things in space. Instead, Congress should merely provide regulation that will facilitate private enterprise while helping them avoid interfering with each other.

Unlike the first hearing, however, the atmosphere was decidedly less interested in improving the overall international regulatory framework created under the Outer Space Treaty. Instead, the witnesses in unison were supportive of the treaty and did not want the U.S. to either pull out of it or try to change it. All advocated the position that the treaty as written allowed the U.S. to regulate private businesses in a manner that could protect property rights in space.

As I watched the hearing I was struck by this unity of position. To me, it appeared that the Washington elitist community was circling its wagons in order to protect the status quo.

The witnesses from the business community appeared afraid of the consequences of any effort to change the Outer Space Treaty. As Mike Gold, Vice President of Space Systems Loral, noted,
» Read more

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Court of Appeals rules FAA drone registry illegal

The law is such an inconvenient thing: The U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that a recently imposed FAA requirement that amateur drone operators register their drone with the FAA is illegal.

Introduced in 2015, the mandatory drone registry required owners of unmanned aircraft weighing between 0.55 and 55 lb (250 g and 25 kg) to register their machines with the FAA. If not, they faced fines of up to $250,000.

This drew the ire of some in the drone industry, and the many hobbyists who had been flying small aircraft recreationally for years. One such hobbyist, John Taylor, went to the lengths of challenging the FAA’s new rule in the US Court of Appeals. Today, that court ruled in his favor.

“Taylor is right,” the decision reads. “In 2012, Congress passed and President Obama signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act. Section 336(a) of that Act states that the FAA ‘may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft’ … The FAA’s 2015 Registration Rule, which applies to model aircraft, directly violates that clear statutory prohibition. We therefore grant Taylor’s petition and vacate the Registration Rule to the extent it applies to model aircraft.”

It is not surprising that a bureaucrat or government agency would try to impose more regulations on the public than is required or allowed. It is all about power, and these regulations give power to the regulators. What is different today is that the federal bureaucracy is now so large and so involved with regulating so many private activities, while the law has simultaneously become so complex and difficult to track, that these abuses happen routinely, unless someone with enough personal resources and determination decides to fight. And even here there is no guarantee that the courts will apply the proper law.

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FAA issues launch license to Rocket Lab

Capitalism in space: The FAA has issued a launch license to Rocket Lab for three launches from New Zealand.

This is no surprise. As I noted on May 15, I suspect the reason Rocket Lab announced its launch date for May 22 before getting the launch license was to force the FAA to finally issue it.

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Irreplaceable plant specimens destroyed by Australian customs.

Do the paperwork! Because the proper paperwork was not completed, and then mailed to the wrong address, Australian customs officials destroyed six daisy specimens, some collected in the 1700s.

Earlier this week, many botanists learned about the destruction of six type specimens of daisies—some collected during a French expedition to Australia from 1791 to 1793—which the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) in Paris had mailed along with 99 other specimens to the Queensland Herbarium in Brisbane, Australia.

After the package arrived in Brisbane in early January, the specimens were held up at customs because the paperwork was incomplete. Biosecurity officers asked the Queensland Herbarium for a list of the specimens and how they were preserved, but the herbarium sent its responses to the wrong email address, delaying the response by many weeks. In March, the officers requested clarification, but then incinerated the samples. “It’s like taking a painting from the Louvre and burning it,” says James Solomon, herbarium curator at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis.

According to Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, which enforces biosecurity rules, part of the problem was that the samples had a declared value of $2—and its agents routinely destroy low-value items that have been kept longer than 30 days. Michel Guiraud, director of collections at NMNH, says his museum’s policy is to put minimal values on shipments. “If it is irreplaceable, there is no way to put an insurance value on it,” he says.

It appears that the fault here is not entirely limited to Australian customs. Both the Paris and Brisbane museums appear to have been very sloppy in this matter.

The result, for now, is that some research organizations are now ceasing all shipments to Australia.

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Aetna leaves last two Obamacare exchanges

Finding out what’s in it: Aetna has pulled out of its last two Obamacare exchanges, in Delaware and Nebraska.

Aetna projected more than $200 million in losses from its exchange plan businesses this year following a loss of $700 million for 2014 through 2016. The insurer attributed the losses to “marketplace structural issues, that have led to co-op failures and carrier exits, and subsequent risk pool deterioration.” Aetna said it had 964,000 individual commercial plan members as of the end of 2016, but that number dropped to 255,000 at the end of March.

Essentially, Obamacare is destroying the health insurance industry, because no insurance company can afford to offer insurance when anyone can simply wait until they are sick — “a pre-existing condition” in the politically stupid parlance of the time — before buying insurance. This also means that the Republican plan, in whatever form it will be take when it finally reaches Trump’s desk, will do nothing to save the industry either, since it appears that the Republicans are terrified of being called mean and will thus keep the requirement that insurance companies sell insurance to anyone, whether they are sick or not.

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Trump administration removes members of EPA science advisory board

In a move related to Trump’s effort to change policy at the EPA, the administration yesterday is reported to have forced out as many as a dozen members of EPA’s 18-person Board of Scientific Counselors.

At an April meeting, the Board of Scientific Counselors discussed the importance of climate change research at EPA and “the growing need for information on, and understanding of, climate change and responses to its impacts,” according to an agenda. They also talked about the importance of considering climate change as a stressor in areas of non-climate research.

The Trump administration has already sent signals that it does not value some areas of federal research, in particular climate science and work that could lead to further regulation of the fossil fuel and chemical industries. The board had 18 members, including Richardson, who said he knew of at least one other member fired. Departures could reach a dozen, he said.

There is going to be a lot of pigs squealing about this. The big question will be whether the Trump administration will have the courage to stand up to those squeals.

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Republican Trumpcare passes House

The Republican-controlled House today passed a replacement healthcare bill that would not repeal Obamacare but merely tinker with it around the edges.

Anyone who thinks this is an Obamacare repeal is fooling themselves. A repeal would be very simple. The details of this new bill are so complicated that I have not been able to figure them out, even after reading numerous articles, both pro and con, about them. In other words, should this bill get past the Senate it will do little good, and will only allow the collapse of the health insurance industry to continue.

Getting this past the Senate is another story. It looks like the plan here was to pass it in the House, so these creeps could lie and claim they passed an Obamacare repeal, and then have the Senate kill it for them.

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Ann Coulter has cancelled her speech at UC-Berkeley

The fascists win: Ann Coulter has cancelled her speech at UC-Berkeley, scheduled for April 27.

She cites as her reason for cancelling as the fact that the two groups that had sponsored her lecture had both cancelled that sponsorship out of fear of violence and the refusal of the university and the local government to provide protection. Their lawsuits against the university however will go on.

Regardless, this is now what urban California has become, a fascist state where expressing conservative views leaves you vulnerable to violence, with the local authorities working with the violent brown-shirted thugs to help them squelch freedom.

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European push for more space regulations under international law

In the European space community and governmental circles, there appears to be a new push to revise the Outer Space Treaty, focused specifically on increasing the treaty’s regulatory power in the area of large satellite constellations and space junk.

This week [the city of] Darmstadt hosts a closed-door, governmental meeting of the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC). Whether it was planned or not, the IADC is set to discuss a much-needed renewal of international space law, which is, experts admit, rather vague. But how far they will go is anyone’s guess.

…There is a palpable sense that the space community needs enforceable international laws and regulations, rather than – or merely to bolster – its current inter-agency agreements. They’ve served us so far, but few countries have actually signed up to them. That leaves a lot of wriggle-room, especially as space becomes increasingly commercialized.

Most of our space activities are governed by the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. It’s a short document that primarily seeks to ensure space operations are “peaceful” and for the good of all humanity. It is complemented by other agreements, including a set of documents on mitigating space debris. “We have a good, coherent set of justified rules and we don’t intend to alter them drastically,” said Christophe Bonnal of the French Space Agency, CNES, and the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) in closing remarks last week. “But we will improve them at the IADC meeting to include mega-constellations.”

It appears to me that this is a push-back against Luxembourg’s recent announcement that it is going to request a renegotiation of the Outer Space Treaty to allow for property rights in space. What this article is advocating instead is that the treaty increase its control and regulatory power over private satellite constellations, which at present are not covered by the treaty.

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Former Obama official confirms climate data manipulation by bureaucrats

A former Obama official has confirmed that during the Obama administrations bureaucrats in the federal government routinely misused or tampered with climate data in order to promote the theory that humans are causing global warming.

Former Energy Department Undersecretary Steven Koonin told The Wall Street Journal Monday that bureaucrats within former President Barack Obama’s administration spun scientific data to manipulate public opinion. “What you saw coming out of the press releases about climate data, climate analysis, was, I’d say, misleading, sometimes just wrong,” Koonin said, referring to elements within the Obama administration he said were responsible for manipulating climate data.

He pointed to a National Climate Assessment in 2014 showing hurricane activity has increased from 1980 as an illustration of how federal agencies fudged climate data. Koonin said the NCA’s assessment was technically incorrect. “What they forgot to tell you, and you don’t know until you read all the way into the fine print is that it actually decreased in the decades before that,” he said. The U.N. published reports in 2014 essentially mirroring Koonin’s argument.

This story does not prove that human-caused global warming is not happening. What it does tell us, as have many other stories previously, is that we can no longer trust the data issued by federal government sources, and that a major housecleaning is necessary in order to make that trust possible again.

Whether Donald Trump is the president capable of doing that housecleaning remains an open question. Some of his actions suggest he is. Some suggest he is not. Overall, he appears a transitional figure who will begin that housecleaning in a relatively superficial way, but lay the groundwork for someone in the future who will push it through with much more success.

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Airbus-Safran gets go-ahead to build first Ariane 6 test rocket

Capitalism in space: The European Space Agency (ESA) has given Airbus-Safran the go-ahead to build the first Ariane 6 rocket, which will be used for ground tests.

It is really important to recognize how this article illustrates the major things that have occurred in how Europe is builds its rockets. Note first that Arianespace is not mentioned at all, even though government bureaucracy has been in charge of ESA’s commercial business for decades. It is not in control any longer and is thus irrelevant. Note also that the design was created solely by Airbus-Safran, and that the only thing ESA did was approve it. The agency did not micromanage it, or revise it, or insist on changes, as would have been the case less than three years ago. Instead, it appears they essentially rubber-stamped it, leaving this work entirely to the private company, which in the end will operate and sell the rocket entirely for profit, while also providing ESA its needed launch vehicle.

At first glance, it appears that the ESA has adopted here the recommendations that I made in my policy paper, Capitalism in space:. In truth, they made these policy changes well before my paper was even written, which helps illustrates forcefully their universal correctness. If you want things built well and efficiently, you give people ownership of their work, you let them create it, and you get out of the way.

Or to use that forgotten word, you let freedom work its magic.

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U.S. space law versus UN Outer Space Treaty

In its effort to provide legal protections to private companies attempting to do asteroid mining, it appears that the U.S.’s most recent space law directly contradicts the UN Outer Space Treaty.

The United States recently passed a law that contains an article that directly concerns asteroid mining and legalizes it. This law is the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (CSLCA), which was signed into law by President Obama in 2015. The CSLCA addresses resource extraction in Article IV, and states, “A U.S. citizen engaged in commercial recovery of an asteroid resource or a space resource shall be entitled to any asteroid resource or space resource obtained, including to possess, own, transport, use, and sell it according to applicable law, including U.S. international obligations.”

The issue here is that US law is in opposition to a UN treaty, to which the US is a signatory. The Outer Space Treaty is one of the oldest and most important agreements in the history of international space policy. Under the Outer Space Treaty, asteroid mining is illegal, since it is an appropriation of a celestial body by a State. Since the human being or organization that is doing the resource extraction is under the purview of some State, that State is responsible for the actions that are done by the nationals or organizations that are doing the mining.

This responsibility was given to the State by the sixth article of the OST and is strengthened by the Liability Convention of 1972. Since the State is responsible and liable for the actions done by their nationals, this means that the State could be interpreted as appropriating the asteroid.

I am surprised and encouraged to see two different articles about the problems of the Outer Space Treaty appear in the press less than a week after my op-ed on the very subject. I am sure there is no connection, other than the subject is increasingly topical, and others are recognizing the same things I am. Still, that these stories are appearing suggests that the chances are increasing that something will finally be done to either change or abandon the treaty.

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Luxembourg rejects proposed space legislation because of Outer Space Treaty

Luxembourg’s legislature has rejected a proposed space regulatory framework because it did not address the legal restrictions on property rights imposed by the United Nations Outer Space Treaty.

Schneider, the deputy prime minister and minister for economy, presented a bill whose objective was to set a legal framework and give legal security to the property of minerals and other valuable resources in space, in particular on asteroids, and to regulate the authorisation and surveillance of both exploration and mining missions.

In a formal opinion published on 7 April, the council noted that private property claims are illegal or at least not legally binding in most of the international treaties and agreements relating to space and celestial bodies.

Neither the UN treaty on principles governing the activities of states in the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies of 1967, nor the agreement governing the activities of states on the moon and other celestial bodies of 1979 (which was not ratified by Luxembourg) answer the question of private property of space resources.

What is most important here is that the Luxembourg government now intends to “to ask for a revision of the question of property in the Outer Space Treaty.” As I said in my op-ed in The Federalist on Monday, nations are increasingly recognizing that the Outer Space Treaty is a problem for property rights, and needs to be revised. Otherwise, private development will be difficult if not impossible.

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New Zimmerman op-ed in The Federalist

As I noted earlier in the week, my op-ed outlining my proposed Trump space policy was today published in The Federalist. The title: “How President Trump Could Jumpstart Space Settlements.” The key quote:

So what should Trump do? At this moment he has a wonderful opportunity to put his stamp on the future, and steer the entire human race to the stars. Trump should propose a new Outer Space Treaty, superseding the old, that would let nations plant their flags in space. This new treaty should establish the rules by which individual nations can claim territory and establish their law and sovereignty on other worlds or asteroids.

From here I go into great detail about how that new treaty would function, laying out how it would encourage the peaceful settlement of the solar system while encouraging private enterprise and the establishing of law and freedom for future space settlers.

Read it all.

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“Limited in attention span, all about big talk and identity politics, but uninterested in substance.”

Link here. Read it all. The disgusting refusal of the Republican leadership to lead, to do what they have promised for seven years and repeal Obamacare, demonstrates their fundamental corruption. Another quote:

In this case, the hardliners were playing a productive role by pointing out the real policy consequences of the piecemeal approach being pursued by the House leadership. Though we’ll never know for sure how the numbers might have looked if a vote had taken place, it’s clear that many centrist members of the Republican caucus were also prepared to vote this bill down. House conservatives, if they could be blamed for anything, it’s for having the audacity to urge leadership to actually honor seven years of pledges to voters to repeal Obamacare. If anybody was moving the goal posts, it wasn’t Freedom Caucusers, it was those who were trying to sell a bill that kept much of Obamacare’s regulatory architecture in place as a free market repeal and replace plan.

And then there’s this. Make sure you read it all.

Update: And read this as well: “While Democrats lie in pursuit of their goals and aspirations, Republicans lie in pursuit of the other side’s ideals.”

I am reminded of the political situation in the late 1960s. The baby boom generation wanted a leftist Congress passing leftist laws. They had the momentum and the culture behind them. Congress was reluctant to go that way. It took more than a decade, until Jimmy Carter’s administration, before a really leftist Congress was in place and able to pass that agenda.

We are in the same boat now. The left is losing ground steadily. The conservatives are on the rise, and want their agenda passed. The problem is that Congress is behind the times and refusing to face this new cultural reality. Whether it ever will remains a question, however, since it is unclear to me whether the right has the same determination and no retreat approach held by the left in the 1960s and 1970s.

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Republican Obamacare bill does not have votes

It appears that the Obamacare bill put forth by the Republican leadership in the House does not have the votes for passage. There are also reports that Ryan will pull the bill rather than have it go down to defeat.

You want a bill that all Republicans can (and have) supported, along with the people that voted for them? Re-introduce this bill.

(a) PPACA.—Effective on the date that is 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111–148) is repealed, and the provisions of law amended or repealed by such Act are restored or revived as if such Act had not been enacted.

(b) Health care-Related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.—Effective on the date that is 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, title I and subtitle B of title II of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (Public Law 111–152) are repealed, and the provisions of law amended or repealed by such title or subtitle, respectively, are restored or revived as if such title and subtitle had not been enacted.

That’s the entire legal text of the bill. It is very simple, and gets us back to where we were in 2010, which might not have been a perfect place, but is a good place to start if you want to consider reform. Tinkering with the crap law that Obama and the Democrats gave us is stupid, and will accomplish nothing.

And if the Democrats filibuster this bill? Let them. Campaigning for Obamacare has clearly not been a good thing for them (see 2010, 2014, and 2016), and in the 2018 elections the Democrats are very vulnerable, with many running in strongly Republican states.

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Vote on Republican Obamacare bill canceled

The Republican leadership has canceled today’s planned vote on their Obamacare replacement bill, having failed to get the support of that bill from conservatives.

The link is to mainstream news outlet ABC, which typically reports this bill as an effort “to repeal and replace ‘Obamacare.'” This is not a repeal bill. To call it that is to lie about what it is. All it does is tinker a bit with Obamacare, at its outer edges, while cementing the law in place by making the Republican Party now partly responsible for it.

Kudos to the House Freedom Caucus and its conservative members for demanding a full repeal and not backing down. They are right. Pass a full repeal, let the Democrats in the Senate fillabuster its passage. The 2018 elections are now getting closer, and too many of those Democratic senators are vulnerable. Let them campaign on that filibuster. It will do them as much good as it did in 2010, 2014, and 2016.

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Republican healthcare bill faces defeat in House

It appears the Republican leadership lacks the votes in the House needed to pass its Obamacare replacement bill.

It appears that the Freedom Caucus in the House is generally holding firm, with more than 21 members agreeing that this is a bad bill, just as bad as Obamacare. Why vote for it, and make yourself a partner in this bad business? Consider for example this quote:

Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa), one of the few Freedom Caucus members who has a close relationship with GOP leadership, said Trump’s remarks in conference — and the building pressure — just “steels my resolve.”

“The way it stands right now, no,” he would not vote for the bill, Blum told POLITICO. “Not because of the Freedom Caucus, but because I’m a free-marketer and I’m a businessman. … And the present bill doesn’t give us a free market. I want health insurance premiums to come down. … This bill doesn’t give us a free market.”

The Republican leadership was able to successfully pass numerous full repeals of Obamacare when Obama was president and could veto them. Now that we have Trump, a president who will sign a repeal, they suddenly seem incapable of finding where they put those repeal bills. Very shameful.

Repeal the thing. Cleanly. This is what the American people want. They will thank you for it.

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Capitalism in Space:
Private Enterprise and Competition Reshape the Global Aerospace Launch Industry

After much delay and discussion, my policy paper for the Center for a New American Security, Capitalism in Space: Private Enterprise and Competition Reshape the Global Aerospace Launch Industry, has finally been published.

You can download the pdf here or at the Center here. Please feel free to distribute this widely. If you visit other websites please pass it on to them. This should be read by as many people as possible, especially since the space policy of the Trump administration remains at present undecided. This policy paper will help them work out a wise policy, with the paper’s key data point contained in this table:

SLS vs Commercial space

I document my numbers very carefully. The result illustrates clearly how much a failure the government model has been and continues to be. We have spent a lot of money since the 1970s on NASA and space, and have generally gotten very little for that investment, as demonstrated by the comparison between the accomplishments of private and government space in the past two decades. Going forward it is going to be very difficult for SLS/Orion to compete with the heavy lift rockets coming from SpaceX and Blue Origin.

My concluding words:
» Read more

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House leans to less regulation of commercial space

During a hearing on March 8 of the House subcommittee on space the representatives overall pushed for less regulation of commercial space activities.

The overall problem was once again dealing with the Outer Space Treaty:

At a March 8 hearing of the subcommittee, members and witnesses grappled with the issue of how the government should oversee emerging commercial space activities in order to comply with obligations to the Outer Space Treaty, including whether such oversight is, in fact, required. Such “authorization and continuing supervision,” as specified in Article 6 of the treaty, is handled today by various agencies for commercial communications and remote sensing satellites and for launch. It’s less clear who would regulate new activities, ranging from commercial lunar landers to satellite servicing efforts, creating uncertainty in industry about who, if anyone, could provide that authorization and continuing supervision.

An April 2016 report delivered to Congress by the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, required by Section 108 of the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015, recommended what it called a “mission authorization” approach for providing that oversight. This approach would be modeled on the payload reviews performed by the Federal Aviation Administration during the launch licensing process, including an interagency review of proposed missions. While the mission authorization concept had won support from many in industry, as well as the FAA and some members of Congress, a change of administrations and its approach to regulation has emboldened some who want to limit industry regulation.

“Unfortunately, the Obama administration issued a report last year that called for expansive regulations over all types of private space activities,” said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Science Committee, at the hearing. He cited a “crisis of overregulation” in general as a reason to oppose the previous administration’s proposal.

The House members and the witnesses apparently rejected the regulatory proposals that had been put forth by the Obama administration, and were instead searching for ways to limit the amount of regulation required under the Outer Space Treaty.

I say, dump the treaty. Nothing in it helps the development of space by private individuals or companies. Everything in it encourages bureaucracy and the limitation of private property.

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Rand Paul introduces his Obamacare replacement

Competing crap: Senator Rand Paul, who opposes the Obamacare replacement introduced by the Republican leadership, introduced his own bill today to replace Obamacare.

I’ve looked at the summary [pdf] of his bill, and it contains most of the same problems contained in the Republican leadership’s proposal. Neither repeals Obamacare really, since both keep the ability of everyone to wait until they are sick before they buy health insurance, thereby guaranteeing that every health insurance company will go bankrupt.

We need Congress to repeal Obamacare, clean and simple. The tinkering by Congress in this business has only caused problems. The more tinkering they do, the more problems they will cause. They need to get out, now.

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