Category: Howard Hyde

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Calexit: Make Our Day


Brendan Kirby writes on Lifezette.com that California’s progrogressives’ project to secede from the union, a.k.a. “CalExit” has suffered a setback since one of its leaders has decided to move permanently to Russia. Oh, and that California leaving the Union would be a huge boost to Republican domination of the 49 remaining United States of America (just do the Electoral College math; take away California’s 55 Democrat electoral votes, and the country as a whole swings to the right of Calvin Coolidge).

He leaves out that the San Francisco 49ers would have to move out, say, to Kremling, Colorado, in order that their name accurately represent the remaining states of the union and become our citizens’ new moniker.

As much as a CalExit would create great hardships for my family (turning us into refugees) as well as for hundreds of my closest friends in the most dynamic if besieged conservative intellectual community in the country, part of me can’t help but goad them on. Go for it! Make our day! Take your precious Marxist-progressive race-class-gender-Gaea identity experiment to its logical conclusion so that the world can see once for all what happens to a prosperous country when it embraces this philosophy with zero possibility of effective dissent. Let’s see how long it takes for California to turn into Argentina or Venezuela, once great and aspiring players on the world stage.

Liberals boast about California reclaiming its ranking as the seventh largest economy in the world among nation states. But even if true, it is a hollow shell, a steroid-bulked-up muscle mass over an osteoporosis-ravaged skeleton. What does the California economy have going for it? A handful of aging powerhouses of Silicon Valley and Hollywood. Both are showing signs of arthritic middle age.

The dynamism and innovation of the Dot-Com boom era is gone; IPOs are a faint echo of what they once were, thanks to Sarbanes-Oxley, Dodd-Frank, and a hundred other regulations to save us from ourselves and from any future Steve Jobses (see George Gilder’s The Scandal of Money: Why Wall Street Recovers but the Economy Never Does). The twenty- and forty-year-old goliaths that dominate the San Francisco-San Jose corridor jockey for market share and dazzle us (not!) with increasingly trivial social media and music video game trinkets, while actual business and engineering productivity tools are slower (on hardware that is ten times “cheaper” and “faster”), buggier, more difficult to own (or “rent”) less intuitive and more poorly supported than they were ten years ago. In short, Silicon Valley sucks. Apple can’t even find anything worthwhile to do with 250 thousand million — a quarter trillion — dollars in cash.

Which leaves Hollywood. Leftist directors, stars and other power brokers already live in an echo chamber that holds half of rest of the country — its market — in utter contempt. How much more are they going to be able to sell their toxic products to people that they hate, once they’ve purged their environment once for all of all vestiges of traditional American values? Do they think that the 49ers are going to tune in with baited breath to the Academy Awards show, broadcast from a foreign country?

California was once a mecca of the defense and energy (petroleum and nuclear power) industries, but the progressive leadership has renounced, repudiated, and evicted these as anathema to their peace-loving, Earth-worshipping environmental and climate goals. Everything progressives want to do, like build a 21st-century Wonder of the World bullet train and urban mass transit systems that are so convenient and efficient that no one would want to own a private automobile anymore, requires energy, and lots of it; but the California progressives can’t bring themselves to permit any energy-producing initiative that doesn’t consume more energy than it produces. Regular gasoline rockets past $3.50 per gallon, twice what neighboring Arizonans pay for it. A boon to the poor, for whom they have such contempt, I mean concern? This is unsustainable.

The pesky obstacles to the California progressives’ project in California, of course, have been the last few pockets of conservatives, Republicans, and businesses that haven’t already fled to Texas, Arizona, or the most desolate Nevada side of Death Valley in search of a more hospitable tax and regulatory habitat. The leftists’ answer to that challenge has been to expand the rolls of dependency (on them) as much as possible among their captive mascot demographics as may be peeled off from those who otherwise might have embraced American freedom, responsibility, prosperity, and self-respect, and to massively import the rest from Mexico, Central America, and the Middle East. No cultural background or degree of criminality is too poisonous for the comfortable gated-community progressives, no matter how misogynistic or gay-murdering, as long as it has zero investment in American Constitutional, Judeo-Christian, limited-government, and private property-rights principles; as long as it may be counted on to vote 80% Democratic party line from here to Kingdom Come.

This is also unsustainable, economically and socially. The drain on the public treasury combined with the weakened productive base should be obvious. Some of the members of long-established American citizen minority communities who had aspirations of achieving the American Dream — blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, LGTBQuertys — might begin to notice that the Democratic Party has sold them down the river for a pottage. White Christian heterosexual Protestant multigenerational citizens might be the progressives’ primary target for extermination (metaphorically — no letters, please), but plenty of other dolphins will get caught in the progressive’s tuna net.

In other words, California has existentially threatening problems of its own progressive making whether it secedes or not. Secession might be the best way to enable the inevitable consequences of the elites’ decisions to run their course to their inevitable conclusion. Then in a generation or less, Californians will either beg the free and prosperous 49 United States of America to be let back in, or they will join Sweden, Greece, and the Ottoman Empire as a once-great-and-now-for-millennia-destined-to-be-terminally-ill shadow of its former self.

I will mourn the beautiful country in which I was born and raised, and lived all but four of the years of my life. But if it is inevitable, let it come with swiftness and clarity, so that none may ever be able to say again without embarrassment that “Socialism is the best system, it just hasn’t really been tried yet”.

Howard Hyde is editor of www.CitizenEcon.com, Fellow of the American Freedom Alliance and author of the books Pull the Plug on Obamacare (2013) and Escape From Berkeley: An EX liberal progressive socialist embraces America (and doesn’t apologize) (2016)

Brendan Kirby writes on Lifezette.com that California’s progrogressives’ project to secede from the union, a.k.a. “CalExit” has suffered a setback since one of its leaders has decided to move permanently to Russia. Oh, and that California leaving the Union would be a huge boost to Republican domination of the 49 remaining United States of America (just do the Electoral College math; take away California’s 55 Democrat electoral votes, and the country as a whole swings to the right of Calvin Coolidge).

He leaves out that the San Francisco 49ers would have to move out, say, to Kremling, Colorado, in order that their name accurately represent the remaining states of the union and become our citizens’ new moniker.

As much as a CalExit would create great hardships for my family (turning us into refugees) as well as for hundreds of my closest friends in the most dynamic if besieged conservative intellectual community in the country, part of me can’t help but goad them on. Go for it! Make our day! Take your precious Marxist-progressive race-class-gender-Gaea identity experiment to its logical conclusion so that the world can see once for all what happens to a prosperous country when it embraces this philosophy with zero possibility of effective dissent. Let’s see how long it takes for California to turn into Argentina or Venezuela, once great and aspiring players on the world stage.

Liberals boast about California reclaiming its ranking as the seventh largest economy in the world among nation states. But even if true, it is a hollow shell, a steroid-bulked-up muscle mass over an osteoporosis-ravaged skeleton. What does the California economy have going for it? A handful of aging powerhouses of Silicon Valley and Hollywood. Both are showing signs of arthritic middle age.

The dynamism and innovation of the Dot-Com boom era is gone; IPOs are a faint echo of what they once were, thanks to Sarbanes-Oxley, Dodd-Frank, and a hundred other regulations to save us from ourselves and from any future Steve Jobses (see George Gilder’s The Scandal of Money: Why Wall Street Recovers but the Economy Never Does). The twenty- and forty-year-old goliaths that dominate the San Francisco-San Jose corridor jockey for market share and dazzle us (not!) with increasingly trivial social media and music video game trinkets, while actual business and engineering productivity tools are slower (on hardware that is ten times “cheaper” and “faster”), buggier, more difficult to own (or “rent”) less intuitive and more poorly supported than they were ten years ago. In short, Silicon Valley sucks. Apple can’t even find anything worthwhile to do with 250 thousand million — a quarter trillion — dollars in cash.

Which leaves Hollywood. Leftist directors, stars and other power brokers already live in an echo chamber that holds half of rest of the country — its market — in utter contempt. How much more are they going to be able to sell their toxic products to people that they hate, once they’ve purged their environment once for all of all vestiges of traditional American values? Do they think that the 49ers are going to tune in with baited breath to the Academy Awards show, broadcast from a foreign country?

California was once a mecca of the defense and energy (petroleum and nuclear power) industries, but the progressive leadership has renounced, repudiated, and evicted these as anathema to their peace-loving, Earth-worshipping environmental and climate goals. Everything progressives want to do, like build a 21st-century Wonder of the World bullet train and urban mass transit systems that are so convenient and efficient that no one would want to own a private automobile anymore, requires energy, and lots of it; but the California progressives can’t bring themselves to permit any energy-producing initiative that doesn’t consume more energy than it produces. Regular gasoline rockets past $3.50 per gallon, twice what neighboring Arizonans pay for it. A boon to the poor, for whom they have such contempt, I mean concern? This is unsustainable.

The pesky obstacles to the California progressives’ project in California, of course, have been the last few pockets of conservatives, Republicans, and businesses that haven’t already fled to Texas, Arizona, or the most desolate Nevada side of Death Valley in search of a more hospitable tax and regulatory habitat. The leftists’ answer to that challenge has been to expand the rolls of dependency (on them) as much as possible among their captive mascot demographics as may be peeled off from those who otherwise might have embraced American freedom, responsibility, prosperity, and self-respect, and to massively import the rest from Mexico, Central America, and the Middle East. No cultural background or degree of criminality is too poisonous for the comfortable gated-community progressives, no matter how misogynistic or gay-murdering, as long as it has zero investment in American Constitutional, Judeo-Christian, limited-government, and private property-rights principles; as long as it may be counted on to vote 80% Democratic party line from here to Kingdom Come.

This is also unsustainable, economically and socially. The drain on the public treasury combined with the weakened productive base should be obvious. Some of the members of long-established American citizen minority communities who had aspirations of achieving the American Dream — blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, LGTBQuertys — might begin to notice that the Democratic Party has sold them down the river for a pottage. White Christian heterosexual Protestant multigenerational citizens might be the progressives’ primary target for extermination (metaphorically — no letters, please), but plenty of other dolphins will get caught in the progressive’s tuna net.

In other words, California has existentially threatening problems of its own progressive making whether it secedes or not. Secession might be the best way to enable the inevitable consequences of the elites’ decisions to run their course to their inevitable conclusion. Then in a generation or less, Californians will either beg the free and prosperous 49 United States of America to be let back in, or they will join Sweden, Greece, and the Ottoman Empire as a once-great-and-now-for-millennia-destined-to-be-terminally-ill shadow of its former self.

I will mourn the beautiful country in which I was born and raised, and lived all but four of the years of my life. But if it is inevitable, let it come with swiftness and clarity, so that none may ever be able to say again without embarrassment that “Socialism is the best system, it just hasn’t really been tried yet”.

Howard Hyde is editor of www.CitizenEcon.com, Fellow of the American Freedom Alliance and author of the books Pull the Plug on Obamacare (2013) and Escape From Berkeley: An EX liberal progressive socialist embraces America (and doesn’t apologize) (2016)



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Obamacare Replacement: Waiting for Godzilla


Whether you are cheering the principled holdout for a better bill or lamenting the circular firing squad led by the Freedom Caucus, the fact is that the first attempt to put a bill through the House to repeal and replace ObamaCare has landed short. Something of a civil war has broken out among various camps of The Party That Finally Has to Govern. Conservative critics called the American Health Care Act “RyanCare” when they were polite, “Obamacare Lite”, “Obamacare 2.0” and other names not fit to print when they are feeling less so. Why the hysteria? With Republicans firmly in charge for at least two years, there should be plenty of opportunity to amend, reinforce, and extend whatever reforms we lead with. Why not use this bill as a beachhead and continue from there? Why let the Perfect be the enemy of the Good?

Taking the bill’s proponents’ words at face value, the AHCA is (was) to be understood as the opening salvo of a three-part strategy which matches each of the various desired policy goals with the procedural processes under which each is most likely to succeed. Thus, as David Catron of the American Spectator put it, “[1] AHCA will use the reconciliation process to kill Obamacare’s mandates and taxes, [2] HHS Secretary Price will exercise his authority to eliminate its morass of regulations, and [3] the few remaining changes are going to be passed via the normal legislative process.” Fair enough; who can argue with having the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services do what his position (and, ironically, ObamaCare itself) empowers him to do by fiat rather than try to push a boulder up Senate Hill?

But a lot of the AHCA’s proponents’ (including Trump’s) arguments had a “take-it-or-leave-it” tone, or worse, “Last Chance!” (before the coming 2018 midterm massacre). Why? If we drink Coke today, can we not drink Pepsi tomorrow? Did this bill, like the one it purported to replace, exclude all other options and follow-ons? Was it comprehensive, all-or-nothing, admitting of no further alteration lest its entire superstructure collapse? Does this bill represent our tacit acceptance of the proposition that the solution to one massive social engineering scheme is another radioactive sea monster that we must commission to stomp us without recourse? 

The quoted phrase above “the few remaining changes” has a ring either of naïveté or of smug conceit about it: “do these three things and we’re done, don’t bother us anymore”. Apparently not enough conservative members bought that line or worse, suspected that if they went along with the bill as written that it would restrict rather than expand options for passing additional reforms in the future. Smelling a rat trap, they “voted” to compel a restart. 

The great failing of government solutions as opposed to market ones is that the former are categorical and one-size-fits-all. Under freedom, I may go to the supermarket and pick up the six-pack of beer and quart of milk that I want today, and some different mix of items tomorrow, answerable to no one except myself and my god (and my wife) for my choices; the equivalent government program would mandate that everyone in the checkout line fill their baskets with the same pound of (locally grown biodynamic non-GMO) broccoli, dozen (cage-free) eggs, pint of (extra virgin) olive oil, loaf of (gluten-free) bread and two dozen other enumerated items, whether we wanted that basket or not. In contrast, the great advantage and opportunity of free-market reforms over social engineering schemes is that each policy is a net positive in and of itself that does not have to be compensated for or offset somewhere else in a tangled web of dependencies. 

Which is why, if we are true to our conservative, free-market, limited-government principles, we shouldn’t have to get too exercised about the bill to replace Obamacare and instead simply proceed to propose, debate and vote up or down in separate, incremental bills all of the specific policies we believe should be implemented. Is competition across state lines without interference in the civil rights of citizens by state insurance commissars a good thing, or isn’t it? That does not depend upon whether or not the FDA should fast-track approval of certain experimental therapies for desperately-ill patients. Those two do not need to be, indeed they do not really belong, together in the same bill. Likewise with health savings accounts/flexible spending accounts (HSAs/FSAs) and tort/malpractice reform. Both would be improvements, but the success of one is not in a suicide pact with the other. Tax and red-tape relief for physicians who offer services pro bono to the poor, and the freedom of any association of citizens from trade syndicates to bird watchers to create their own risk pools for mutual insurance purposes, could get proposed, debated and voted upon in a week each. The inevitable negotiations and horse-trading could be expressed, instead of by what’s in and what’s out, by the ordering and prioritization of the succession of bills. 

Lists of these targeted policy proposals are not hard to find. Daniel Horowitz has a list. Sally Pipes has a list. I have a list. Even the American Health Care act itself in its evolving incarnations is a list of sorts which may be broken up if it can’t be swallowed whole. And it’s not like we have to take Horowitz’s or Pipes’ list and leave mine; the lists overlap and agree in the main, for a simple reason: they are all based on sound free-market economic principles rather than the progressive Marxist ethnic gender class grievance theory upon which ObamaCare rests.

So it ain’t rocket science or brain surgery. It may, however, require a (slight!) modification in how things get done in Washington. Exploding “business as usual” is what the American people unambiguously demanded in the 2016 election, and Trump should persist in demanding a new paradigm: One targeted, specific, free-market reform per short bill, in rapid succession and yes, each one channeled through the process where it has the greatest chance of success.

One of the strongest arguments pro the AHCA may be one pointed out by the Wall Street Journal editorial of March 22: “the revised bill now accelerates the repeal of most Obamacare taxes to this year instead of waiting until 2018. This… will make it less likely that Americans hold off on investment decisions until next year to get the lower tax rate.” If you understand that ObamaCare is not about medical care per se but about money, financial engineering, economic growth and the balance of power between the public and private sectors, then that is, in a word, huge. So pull that out, put it into its own bill and shepherd it across the finish line pronto.

The Freedom Caucus and its allies that led the conservative opposition to the bill are outnumbered by some estimates at five to one, so there won’t be multiple opportunities to play the same card. The next bill that comes up, if it is a net positive that does not close the door on further free-market reforms, should be supported by all who are sincere in their opposition to the fundamental, socialist transformation of America.

We could start with the saddest casualty of the defeat of the AHCA: the repeal of the Tanning Tax.

Howard Hyde is editor of www.CitizenEcon.com, Fellow of the American Freedom Alliance and author of the books Pull the Plug on Obamacare (2013) and Escape From Berkeley: An EX liberal progressive socialist embraces America (and doesn’t apologize)” (2016)

Whether you are cheering the principled holdout for a better bill or lamenting the circular firing squad led by the Freedom Caucus, the fact is that the first attempt to put a bill through the House to repeal and replace ObamaCare has landed short. Something of a civil war has broken out among various camps of The Party That Finally Has to Govern. Conservative critics called the American Health Care Act “RyanCare” when they were polite, “Obamacare Lite”, “Obamacare 2.0” and other names not fit to print when they are feeling less so. Why the hysteria? With Republicans firmly in charge for at least two years, there should be plenty of opportunity to amend, reinforce, and extend whatever reforms we lead with. Why not use this bill as a beachhead and continue from there? Why let the Perfect be the enemy of the Good?

Taking the bill’s proponents’ words at face value, the AHCA is (was) to be understood as the opening salvo of a three-part strategy which matches each of the various desired policy goals with the procedural processes under which each is most likely to succeed. Thus, as David Catron of the American Spectator put it, “[1] AHCA will use the reconciliation process to kill Obamacare’s mandates and taxes, [2] HHS Secretary Price will exercise his authority to eliminate its morass of regulations, and [3] the few remaining changes are going to be passed via the normal legislative process.” Fair enough; who can argue with having the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services do what his position (and, ironically, ObamaCare itself) empowers him to do by fiat rather than try to push a boulder up Senate Hill?

But a lot of the AHCA’s proponents’ (including Trump’s) arguments had a “take-it-or-leave-it” tone, or worse, “Last Chance!” (before the coming 2018 midterm massacre). Why? If we drink Coke today, can we not drink Pepsi tomorrow? Did this bill, like the one it purported to replace, exclude all other options and follow-ons? Was it comprehensive, all-or-nothing, admitting of no further alteration lest its entire superstructure collapse? Does this bill represent our tacit acceptance of the proposition that the solution to one massive social engineering scheme is another radioactive sea monster that we must commission to stomp us without recourse? 

The quoted phrase above “the few remaining changes” has a ring either of naïveté or of smug conceit about it: “do these three things and we’re done, don’t bother us anymore”. Apparently not enough conservative members bought that line or worse, suspected that if they went along with the bill as written that it would restrict rather than expand options for passing additional reforms in the future. Smelling a rat trap, they “voted” to compel a restart. 

The great failing of government solutions as opposed to market ones is that the former are categorical and one-size-fits-all. Under freedom, I may go to the supermarket and pick up the six-pack of beer and quart of milk that I want today, and some different mix of items tomorrow, answerable to no one except myself and my god (and my wife) for my choices; the equivalent government program would mandate that everyone in the checkout line fill their baskets with the same pound of (locally grown biodynamic non-GMO) broccoli, dozen (cage-free) eggs, pint of (extra virgin) olive oil, loaf of (gluten-free) bread and two dozen other enumerated items, whether we wanted that basket or not. In contrast, the great advantage and opportunity of free-market reforms over social engineering schemes is that each policy is a net positive in and of itself that does not have to be compensated for or offset somewhere else in a tangled web of dependencies. 

Which is why, if we are true to our conservative, free-market, limited-government principles, we shouldn’t have to get too exercised about the bill to replace Obamacare and instead simply proceed to propose, debate and vote up or down in separate, incremental bills all of the specific policies we believe should be implemented. Is competition across state lines without interference in the civil rights of citizens by state insurance commissars a good thing, or isn’t it? That does not depend upon whether or not the FDA should fast-track approval of certain experimental therapies for desperately-ill patients. Those two do not need to be, indeed they do not really belong, together in the same bill. Likewise with health savings accounts/flexible spending accounts (HSAs/FSAs) and tort/malpractice reform. Both would be improvements, but the success of one is not in a suicide pact with the other. Tax and red-tape relief for physicians who offer services pro bono to the poor, and the freedom of any association of citizens from trade syndicates to bird watchers to create their own risk pools for mutual insurance purposes, could get proposed, debated and voted upon in a week each. The inevitable negotiations and horse-trading could be expressed, instead of by what’s in and what’s out, by the ordering and prioritization of the succession of bills. 

Lists of these targeted policy proposals are not hard to find. Daniel Horowitz has a list. Sally Pipes has a list. I have a list. Even the American Health Care act itself in its evolving incarnations is a list of sorts which may be broken up if it can’t be swallowed whole. And it’s not like we have to take Horowitz’s or Pipes’ list and leave mine; the lists overlap and agree in the main, for a simple reason: they are all based on sound free-market economic principles rather than the progressive Marxist ethnic gender class grievance theory upon which ObamaCare rests.

So it ain’t rocket science or brain surgery. It may, however, require a (slight!) modification in how things get done in Washington. Exploding “business as usual” is what the American people unambiguously demanded in the 2016 election, and Trump should persist in demanding a new paradigm: One targeted, specific, free-market reform per short bill, in rapid succession and yes, each one channeled through the process where it has the greatest chance of success.

One of the strongest arguments pro the AHCA may be one pointed out by the Wall Street Journal editorial of March 22: “the revised bill now accelerates the repeal of most Obamacare taxes to this year instead of waiting until 2018. This… will make it less likely that Americans hold off on investment decisions until next year to get the lower tax rate.” If you understand that ObamaCare is not about medical care per se but about money, financial engineering, economic growth and the balance of power between the public and private sectors, then that is, in a word, huge. So pull that out, put it into its own bill and shepherd it across the finish line pronto.

The Freedom Caucus and its allies that led the conservative opposition to the bill are outnumbered by some estimates at five to one, so there won’t be multiple opportunities to play the same card. The next bill that comes up, if it is a net positive that does not close the door on further free-market reforms, should be supported by all who are sincere in their opposition to the fundamental, socialist transformation of America.

We could start with the saddest casualty of the defeat of the AHCA: the repeal of the Tanning Tax.

Howard Hyde is editor of www.CitizenEcon.com, Fellow of the American Freedom Alliance and author of the books Pull the Plug on Obamacare (2013) and Escape From Berkeley: An EX liberal progressive socialist embraces America (and doesn’t apologize)” (2016)



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Repeal (and Don't Replace) TEFRA 1706


With the election of Donald Trump and Republican majorities in the House and Senate, we have an unprecedented opportunity to roll back the worst economy-killing laws and regulations of the Obama and Bush eras.  Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, and the Keystone pipeline top the list, but there are dozens if not hundreds more that no one outside specific industry niches has even heard of, which cumulatively are equally if not more destructive.  Congress and the president need to take an axe to all of them. 

To cite one example: TEFRA 1706.  TEFRA is the Tax Equity and Fairness (there’s that word! run away!) Reform Act of 1986.  I call it the Democrats’ Revenge for Reagan’s Tax Cuts Act.  Buried inside that law is Section 1706, which deals with the regulation of independent computer consultants.  In a nutshell, it lays out over a dozen “tests” of the independence of computer consultants working for client companies, failing which tests, the IRS will re-classify them as employees, entitled to benefits, paid leave, health insurance, etc. – but not entitled to operate as independent businesses; develop specialized products and service that they own; deduct their travel expenses, training, rent, equipment etc.; and hire or sub-contract other consultants or employees.

TEFRA 1706 effectively put corporations on notice that independent computer consultants are radioactive, and those corporations received the message loud and clear.  Instead, anyone working in this field must be someone’s captive, whether the client’s or an agency’s, which agency takes between 10 and 40 percent of the hourly rate that the client pays (where is Karl Marx and his theory that the worker should own 100% of his work product when you need him?).

When I began my I.T. career 25 years ago, there still existed a cadre of independent “cowboy” consultants who had gotten their start in the 1970s and ’80s, prior to the passage of TEFRA, when the personal computer and internet were in their infancy and expertise was scarce.  They got together in monthly and quarterly meetings of user groups that were independent of vendors and employers.  But in my sector (database application development), at least, the collegiality and camaraderie of those days have died out.  Independent professional associations have gone extinct and been replaced by organizations chartered by multi-billion-dollar industry behemoths, and nearly all of the professionals who show up are sponsored by a corporate employer. 

This is not just some anecdotal misfortune for a few individuals.  By raising insurmountable barriers to entry into business, laws like this wipe out entire distinctly American sectors of the U.S. economy.  Untold thousands of bright, creative, risk-taking Americans have been prevented from building businesses and developing innovative products.  We have our titans of Silicon Valley, but the small business sector has been hollowed out, and IPOs are way down.

Employees as such have nearly zero opportunity to preserve any private rights in the systems they work on for their employers (ever see the intellectual property clause of a boilerplate employment contract?), whereas independent consultants have far greater leverage to negotiate what belongs to the client and what belongs to the consultant.  Intellectual property-owning entrepreneurs have the potential to create innovative products that might not otherwise see the light of day, as well as jobs for other professionals and potential entrepreneurs. 

Creativity; ownership of one’s work product; risk-taking; and a full spectrum of lighthearted, optimistic pop-culture wackiness have given America its distinct entrepreneurial business culture, unmatched inventiveness, and competitive edge.  Independent-minded American tech pros have seen all of those dimensions – the humanity, the fun, even the very soul – sucked out of their professional lives, replaced with their assigned cubicles in the federally regulated mega-corporation, its bureaucracy, and its power hierarchy.  Instead of being able to produce and create on the basis of their full spectrum, they are left to compete internationally on the lowest-common-denominator dimensions of  the hourly rate or salary, willingness to follow orders without question, and ability to work long hours without complaint – platitudes about “work-life balance” in the toilet.  Americans have no competitive edge in those dimensions, or in bureaucratic management. 

Stories of American STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) workers, of which there is no – I repeat: no – shortage, being replaced wholesale with young, cheap foreign holders of visas like H-1B, have received increasing public attention in recent years, and the Trump administration has indicated that it may act to reform the programs and clamp down on abuses.  This response may or may not provide relief to American workers; there is the possibility of it backfiring if American companies simply move entire operations to India.  Michelle Malkin and John Miano have made an indispensable contribution to this discussion with their book, Sold Out: How High-Tech Billionaires and Bipartisan Beltway Crapweasels Are Screwing America’s Best and Brightest Workers.  But competition with foreign workers, and calls for policies that have the taint of protectionism, might not have become the hot-button issues that they have in the first place if Americans were not being prevented from deploying the complete scope of their talents and capital, and instead being regulated down to generic commodity drones.

And for what?  Presumably this law was passed to prevent income tax fraud – or, put another way, “presumed guilty.”  It is likely that a significant motive for the law was that powerful vested interests like Big 5 (6?) consulting firms didn’t want competition from uppity cowboys and had the clout in Washington to have them shut down.  The whole thing reeks of the swamp Trump was elected to drain.

The fact is, any laws or regulations that do not follow – directly, not by spinning-yarn degrees – from government’s legitimate role and need to prevent and punish murder, assault, robbery, theft, fraud, rape, persecution, and conspiracy are illegitimate, destructive, and un-American.  They should be wiped off the books. 

That’s about 90 percent of them.  Congress and Mr. President, get to work so that we can, too.

Howard Hyde is editor of www.CitizenEcon.com, fellow of the American Freedom Alliance, and author of the books Pull the Plug on Obamacare (2013) and Escape From Berkeley: An EX liberal progressive socialist embraces America (and doesn’t apologize) (2016).

With the election of Donald Trump and Republican majorities in the House and Senate, we have an unprecedented opportunity to roll back the worst economy-killing laws and regulations of the Obama and Bush eras.  Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, and the Keystone pipeline top the list, but there are dozens if not hundreds more that no one outside specific industry niches has even heard of, which cumulatively are equally if not more destructive.  Congress and the president need to take an axe to all of them. 

To cite one example: TEFRA 1706.  TEFRA is the Tax Equity and Fairness (there’s that word! run away!) Reform Act of 1986.  I call it the Democrats’ Revenge for Reagan’s Tax Cuts Act.  Buried inside that law is Section 1706, which deals with the regulation of independent computer consultants.  In a nutshell, it lays out over a dozen “tests” of the independence of computer consultants working for client companies, failing which tests, the IRS will re-classify them as employees, entitled to benefits, paid leave, health insurance, etc. – but not entitled to operate as independent businesses; develop specialized products and service that they own; deduct their travel expenses, training, rent, equipment etc.; and hire or sub-contract other consultants or employees.

TEFRA 1706 effectively put corporations on notice that independent computer consultants are radioactive, and those corporations received the message loud and clear.  Instead, anyone working in this field must be someone’s captive, whether the client’s or an agency’s, which agency takes between 10 and 40 percent of the hourly rate that the client pays (where is Karl Marx and his theory that the worker should own 100% of his work product when you need him?).

When I began my I.T. career 25 years ago, there still existed a cadre of independent “cowboy” consultants who had gotten their start in the 1970s and ’80s, prior to the passage of TEFRA, when the personal computer and internet were in their infancy and expertise was scarce.  They got together in monthly and quarterly meetings of user groups that were independent of vendors and employers.  But in my sector (database application development), at least, the collegiality and camaraderie of those days have died out.  Independent professional associations have gone extinct and been replaced by organizations chartered by multi-billion-dollar industry behemoths, and nearly all of the professionals who show up are sponsored by a corporate employer. 

This is not just some anecdotal misfortune for a few individuals.  By raising insurmountable barriers to entry into business, laws like this wipe out entire distinctly American sectors of the U.S. economy.  Untold thousands of bright, creative, risk-taking Americans have been prevented from building businesses and developing innovative products.  We have our titans of Silicon Valley, but the small business sector has been hollowed out, and IPOs are way down.

Employees as such have nearly zero opportunity to preserve any private rights in the systems they work on for their employers (ever see the intellectual property clause of a boilerplate employment contract?), whereas independent consultants have far greater leverage to negotiate what belongs to the client and what belongs to the consultant.  Intellectual property-owning entrepreneurs have the potential to create innovative products that might not otherwise see the light of day, as well as jobs for other professionals and potential entrepreneurs. 

Creativity; ownership of one’s work product; risk-taking; and a full spectrum of lighthearted, optimistic pop-culture wackiness have given America its distinct entrepreneurial business culture, unmatched inventiveness, and competitive edge.  Independent-minded American tech pros have seen all of those dimensions – the humanity, the fun, even the very soul – sucked out of their professional lives, replaced with their assigned cubicles in the federally regulated mega-corporation, its bureaucracy, and its power hierarchy.  Instead of being able to produce and create on the basis of their full spectrum, they are left to compete internationally on the lowest-common-denominator dimensions of  the hourly rate or salary, willingness to follow orders without question, and ability to work long hours without complaint – platitudes about “work-life balance” in the toilet.  Americans have no competitive edge in those dimensions, or in bureaucratic management. 

Stories of American STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) workers, of which there is no – I repeat: no – shortage, being replaced wholesale with young, cheap foreign holders of visas like H-1B, have received increasing public attention in recent years, and the Trump administration has indicated that it may act to reform the programs and clamp down on abuses.  This response may or may not provide relief to American workers; there is the possibility of it backfiring if American companies simply move entire operations to India.  Michelle Malkin and John Miano have made an indispensable contribution to this discussion with their book, Sold Out: How High-Tech Billionaires and Bipartisan Beltway Crapweasels Are Screwing America’s Best and Brightest Workers.  But competition with foreign workers, and calls for policies that have the taint of protectionism, might not have become the hot-button issues that they have in the first place if Americans were not being prevented from deploying the complete scope of their talents and capital, and instead being regulated down to generic commodity drones.

And for what?  Presumably this law was passed to prevent income tax fraud – or, put another way, “presumed guilty.”  It is likely that a significant motive for the law was that powerful vested interests like Big 5 (6?) consulting firms didn’t want competition from uppity cowboys and had the clout in Washington to have them shut down.  The whole thing reeks of the swamp Trump was elected to drain.

The fact is, any laws or regulations that do not follow – directly, not by spinning-yarn degrees – from government’s legitimate role and need to prevent and punish murder, assault, robbery, theft, fraud, rape, persecution, and conspiracy are illegitimate, destructive, and un-American.  They should be wiped off the books. 

That’s about 90 percent of them.  Congress and Mr. President, get to work so that we can, too.

Howard Hyde is editor of www.CitizenEcon.com, fellow of the American Freedom Alliance, and author of the books Pull the Plug on Obamacare (2013) and Escape From Berkeley: An EX liberal progressive socialist embraces America (and doesn’t apologize) (2016).



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