Economic Liberalization Stammers in Latin America

In Analysis by Michael Rae

Liberalization is taking a back seat. Almost everywhere you look in Latin America, the left is running the show—or on the verge of doing so if Gustavo Petro wins the soon-to-be presidential elections in Colombia and Lula da Silva (yes, the corrupt former president who presided over a vast empire of graft and spent time in jail) is elected again in October in Brazil. 
From Mexico to Chile, it is the archaic, not the social-democratic, version of the left that is in control and steering the subcontinent away from the path of liberalization it had embarked on in recent years. 
Several factors

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Surveillance Transparency Report Documents Wide FBI Reach

In Analysis by Michael Rae

The U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) has released its Annual Statistical Transparency Report disclosing the use of national security surveillance laws for the year 2021—and to no one’s surprise it documents the wide-ranging overreach of intelligence agencies and the continued misuse of surveillance authorities to spy on millions of Americans. Specifically, the report chronicles how Section 702, an amendment to the Foriegn Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), that authorizes the U.S. government to engage in mass surveillance of foreign targets’ communications, is still being abused by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to spy on Americans without a warrant.
Specifically, the report reveals that between December 2020 and November

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Bus rapid transit systems need to use transit signal priority

In Politics by Michael Rae

Transit ridership continues to decline. While cities and states have received massive stimulus and COVID-19 relief packages from the federal government, local transit agencies are going to have to make do with less money in the future. As a result, interest in bus rapid transit (BRT) as an alternative to light rail appears to be growing. For example, almost 200 people attended the recent American Public Transportation Association’s Bus Rapid Transit Workshop at the group’s Mobility Conference in Columbus, Ohio, which is the highest attendance in the 10 years that I have been attending these conferences and BRT events. 

One of

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Aviation Policy News: New approach for Europe, U.S. airline competition, and more

In Politics by Michael Rae

In this issue:

A new approach for the Single European SkyMexico’s air traffic control messU.S. airline competition continues heating upAnother vertiport developer—ahead of its time?Reforming the airport passenger facility charge“Privatizing” the East Hampton airport?News NotesQuotable Quotes

A New Approach for the Single European Sky

Airlines serving Europe complained bitterly about the inefficiency of Europe’s fragmented air traffic control (ATC) system, during the Airlines for Europe (A4E) summit in Brussels, on March 31. Under pressure to reduce their carbon footprint, they pointed to large potential emission reductions if all flights within Europe could follow the shortest paths between origin and destination. But this idealized

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Israeli aggression, arms control, Huawei ban, Ukraine update and more

In Opinion by Michael Rae

THE MURDER OF AL JAZEERA JOURNALIST SHIREEN ABU AKLEH
Further to our 14 May blog post discussion of the murder by Israeli forces of beloved and respected Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and the subsequent brutal attack by Israeli police on peaceful mourners, including pallbearers, in her funeral procession, we now

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You Are a Soul

In Analysis by Michael Rae

The ontology of the human being is elusive. But let’s say: You are a soul and you own your person. 
The soul and the person together constitute the human being. It is also apt, of course, to say you are a human being. But here, I use ‘you’ to address just you, the soul, as a way to jolt us into a way of thinking. 
Souls and persons are one-to-one, so it is natural that ‘human being’ be signified as either ‘soul’ or ‘person,’ each serving, according to my formulation, as a synecdoche for the human being.
Where does the person end and

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Coastal Commission Ramps Up State Water Deficit

In Analysis by Michael Rae

As expected, on May 12, the California Coastal Commission voted unanimously to reject the Poseidon Water desalination plant in Orange County. As the California Globe noted, the plant was “decades in the works during a time when California needs more freshwater to combat a drought in the state.” 
The plant would have provided 50 million gallons of freshwater a day. The commissioners’ reasons for rejecting the plant included salt discharge, electricity costs, and something else that is hard to quantify. 
“The ocean is under attack from climate change already,” proclaimed commissioner Dayna Bochco, a television producer and president of Steven Bochco Productions, producer of shows such

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A Proposed Amendment to California’s Constitution to Resolve the Housing Affordability Crisis

In Analysis by Michael Rae

Despite much hand-wringing by California politicians and bills in the state legislature with lofty goals and rhetoric, home prices in California continue to set new records. Apartment rental prices also continue to soar in Southern California, the Central Valley, and Northern California.
A decades-old crisis of this magnitude demands bold action. California had a Tax Revolt in the 1970s when homes were seized because homeowners could not afford to pay outrageously high property tax increases. Today, California needs an Unaffordable Housing Revolt in the form of a ballot initiative led by Californians to overcome government restrictions on private property rights that

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Price-gouging laws won’t help gas prices or consumers

In Opinion by Michael Rae

Yesterday, Democrats successfully but narrowly passed an anti–price gouging bill in the House to address raging prices at the pump and to deliver on promises for successful climate-change legislation. Meanwhile, the Senate Natural Resources and Energy chair, Joe Manchin, continues to work toward a bipartisan climate and energy package.  Continue Reading…

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Pension Reform News: Hybrid pension proposal falls short in Louisiana, shortcomings of ESG scores, and more

In Politics by Michael Rae

This newsletter from the Pension Integrity Project at Reason Foundation highlights articles, research, opinion, and other information related to public pension challenges and reform efforts across the nation. You can find previous editions here.

In This Issue:

Articles, Research & Spotlights 

Louisiana’s Hybrid Pension Proposal Falls ShortShortcomings of ESG ScoresA Chance for New Hampshire to Reduce Pension DebtTexas Needs to Reform Teacher PensionsPast Pension Missteps Should Be a Warning to California

News in BriefQuotable Quotes on Pension ReformData HighlightContact the Pension Reform Help Desk

Articles, Research & Spotlights

Evaluating the Potential Impacts of Louisiana Senate Bill 438 

Recognizing the need to better accommodate an increasingly mobile workforce, Louisiana legislators

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The difficulties of assigning ESG ratings

In Politics by Michael Rae

Utah’s governor, attorney general and other state and federal representatives recently wrote a letter admonishing S&P Global Ratings for including environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) indicators in its credit rating of the state. The letter from Utah’s political leaders says:

S&P acknowledges that “having a social mission and strong ESG characteristics does not necessarily correlate with strong creditworthiness and vice versa.” S&P’s ESG credit indicators politicize what should be a purely financial decision. This politicization has manifested itself in the capital markets where, for example, banks are pressured to cut off capital to the oil, gas, coal, and firearms industries.

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Land-use regulations drive up the cost of housing and hamper economic mobility

In Politics by Michael Rae

Housing prices have skyrocketed in recent years, preventing many workers and families from moving to cities and driving others out of high-cost metropolitan areas. After recovering from the mortgage and housing bubble of 2008, home prices rose steadily over the next decade and then significantly spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic. While multiple factors are driving up housing costs, land-use regulations play an especially significant role.

According to the National Association of Realtors, the median sales price of existing homes in the United States was $382,000 in March of 2022, compared to $274,600 in 2019. Rising costs are pricing many workers out

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