Time to “Uberize” the Transportation Economy

This week marks the beginning of a 120-day “pilot project” by the City of Portland to allow private car-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft to legally compete with cab companies. Given the consumer demand for such services, there is little doubt that the Portland experiment will become permanent.

Cab services have long been heavily regulated. Detailed rules governed every facet of operation, including rates, dispatching, and―most importantly―the number of cabs allowed in the city. Although justified as “protecting the public interest,” the system was really designed to protect cab companies from new competition.

This model is now being swept aside by the dual forces of technological innovation and entrepreneurial success. Goodbye taxi cartel, hello freedom.

Unfortunately, the roads that we all use are still run as a government monopoly. As with the old taxi cartel, if state officials decide that no more highways will be built, consumers are stuck with a shortage of service. And in fact, that decision has already been made. The last new highway in the Portland region opened in 1982. There are no plans for a new one.

Ultimately, this model can’t work. As Portland grows, we will need new roads. Encouraging the road-building “Ubers” of the world to provide these services is the next logical step in the growth of the regional transport economy.

Cut the Red Tape: Give the Economy a Fresh Start in 2012

Americans live in a regulatory minefield.

Consider the tens of thousands of statutes, regulations, and court precedents that affect nearly every aspect of your life: The United States Code is 50 volumes; the Code of Federal Regulations is 150,000 pages; State laws, administrative rules, and city codes add tens of thousands more pages. Add the myriad court interpretations of these rules, and you understand why the U.S. has more than 1.2 million active attorneys.

Most of these rules have nothing to do with protecting your rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Most have everything to do with limiting your choices: what kind of home you can live in or business you can start; forms you must file and licenses you must acquire; taxes you must pay; the goods, food, and medicine you can buy; and much more.

Why should we have so many rules? Laws, when rightly established, prevent us from harming each other. But when wrongly established, they keep us from living freely and smother the lamp of creative invention and entrepreneurship. John Quincy Adams wrote, “[T]he laws of man may bind him in chains, or may put him to death, but they never can make him wise, virtuous, or happy.”

Instead of heaping more regulations on us, legislators should cut red tape so individuals and businesses can reach their potential in freedom.

Owls and Grouse and Wolves, Oh My!

Karla Kay Edwards

Cascade Commentary

Owls and Grouse and Wolves, Oh My!
by Karla Kay Edwards

Download PDF

State and federal endangered species listings have greatly influenced the economies and culture of Oregon’s communities for decades. Ironically, they have had relatively little success in actually influencing the species they want to recover. Still, government agencies refuse to abandon their monocular vision of individual species recovery. Broader policy objectives and market-oriented approaches would allow the integration of management decisions which address multiple species and other surrounding issues that hinder recovery. This can be achieved by returning the power of conservation to local and private entities that are more effective stewards of the environment.

Read more

Worried About Climate Change? Promote Free Markets!

Todd Wynn
Cascade Commentary

Worried About Climate Change? Promote Free Markets!

by Todd Wynn

Every day more and more Americans are growing skeptical of the climate change doomsday claims and plans to ration energy through cap-and-trade type proposals. Despite this, many environmentalists still claim that far-reaching government intervention is needed to achieve greater energy efficiency and lower greenhouse gas emissions to reduce the threat of global warming. Although there has been no statistically significant global warming since at least 1995, the same groups often claim economic growth and lack of comprehensive environmental regulations have created a society that wastes energy and pays no regard to greenhouse gas emissions. But what if less energy use and lower greenhouse gas emissions are a byproduct of limited government and economic freedom? What if environmentalists’ goals can be reached by freer markets and prosperity? Recent Cascade Policy Institute research shows that very phenomenon.

Read more

NEW REPORT – Economic Freedom: A No Regrets Strategy for Reducing Global Energy Consumption

Todd Wynn
Economic Freedom: A No Regrets Strategy for Reducing Global Energy Consumption

A new report from Todd Wynn of Cascade Policy Institute

Summary:

This empirical study exposes a relationship between greenhouse gas intensity, energy intensity and economic freedom. The level of a country’s economic freedom is a statistically significant and negative determinant of both energy intensity and greenhouse gas intensity. Countries with higher levels of economic freedom not only have more energy efficient and less carbon intensive economies, but over time these countries continue to decrease the amount of energy used and the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of production. The merits of free markets and economic prosperity should not be overlooked as a potential method for reducing carbon emissions.

Download the Full Report

Todd talks about the report:

Increased Costs Are Blowin’ in the Wind

Todd Wynn
Cascade Commentary

by Todd Wynn and Eric Lowe

Increased Costs Are Blowin’ in the Wind

Summary: Wind energy on the Pacific Northwest’s electricity grid has increased substantially. Often overlooked are the impacts of increasing wind generation on the reliability and affordability of electricity that very well might outweigh any of the promised environmental benefits.

Download the .pdf here, or click through the break to read the commentary.

Read more

Climate Change Alarmists in Hot Water

Todd WynnCascade Commentary

Click here to read the full report in PDF format

Summary: We are told that the earth is the hottest it has been in thousands of years and humans are to blame. But what if the science behind climate change was exaggerated? What if temperature records have been manipulated or cherry-picked? What if climate scientists are unsure about past temperature history? It appears that this is the case.

Read more

Mandates to Reduce Driving Will Kill Oregon’s Economy

Cascade Commentary

By Todd Wynn and John A. Charles, Jr.

Summary: Numerous federal, state and local policies aim to reduce vehicle miles travelled as a carbon-emissions reduction plan, yet rarely considered are the possible economic effects of these policies. New evidence shows that those effects are likely to damage both the environment and the economy.

Read more