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Boris Johnson Must Stop the Hamster Wheel of Doom – Starting with Electric Scooters

January 1, 1970 in Economics

By Ryan Bourne

Ryan Bourne

Boris Johnson has been talked up as Britain’s first likely
pro-freedom prime minister since
Margaret Thatcher
. He burnished those credentials further in
this week’s TV debate, “peddling optimism” by
making the case “with renewed power and conviction” for
“a dynamic market economy”.

Let us consider a specific litmus test of whether Boris will
live up to his pro-market promise.

A crystal-clear examination of whether he will take us off
“the hamster wheel of doom” associated with excessive
regulatory precaution, or rather embrace the permissionless
innovation, risk-taking, and proportionate regulatory reaction
associated with free-market credentials: will Boris give the
green-light to electric rental scooters in the UK?

Across US and Western European cities, including Washington DC,
Paris, Brussels, Barcelona and Munich, companies compete in
delivering these services.

Starting in the US, fleets of scooters have arrived in cities,
delivered Father Christmas-like from venture capital-backed Silicon
Valley tech firms with four-letter names.

Operated through smartphone apps, these small, motorized
vehicles can be unlocked then rented by the minute. Dockless and
tracked using GPS, they have obvious appeal given they are
inexpensive and versatile for short journeys, or for tourists
marveling at cities’ landmarks.

Unsurprisingly, use worldwide is sky-rocketing. Yet here,
antiquated laws have killed the market before its British birth.
The 1835 Highways Act prohibits motorised scooter use on pavements.
The Road Traffic Act 1988 effectively bans them on roads, given the
DVLA’s requirements for roadworthy vehicles.

Given ownership is legal, police time, particularly in London,
is spent chasing private use in public spaces, while corporate
rental activity is effectively banned bar a small scheme in the Olympic
Park
.

Though former transport minister Jesse Norman previously
flashed some leg on legislative
change
, the Government seems to be prevaricating to devise
comprehensive legislation, rather than taking a permissive approach
that would regulate when problems arise. Given the environmental
and transport challenges the country faces, such cautiousness is a
self-inflicted mistake. The potential benefits are huge.

The 2017 National Travel Survey showed 68pc of people’s
trips are under five miles, making electric scooters highly viable,
and a counter-force against congestion. In international cities
such as Tel Aviv, residents are already flocking to them to escape
traffic jams.

Results of a four-month pilot study in Portland, Oregon
highlight this potential for car-to-scooter substitution too. Just
over a third of resident users there and 48pc of visitors said they
took a scooter instead of driving a personal car or using Uber,
Lyft or a taxi. That brings a potentially large environmental
dividend.

Electric scooters are incredibly energy efficient, due to their
light weight. One operator, Lime, reports the company worldwide has
“prevented more than 8,000 metric tons of carbon …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Fire Next Door: Mexico's Drug Violence and the Danger to America

January 1, 1970 in Economics

In his compelling new book, Ted Galen Carpenter details the growing horror overtaking Mexico and explains how the current U.S.-backed strategies for trying to stem Mexico’s drug violence have been a disaster. The only effective strategy, says Carpenter, is to defund the Mexican drug cartels by abandoning the failed drug prohibition policy, thereby eliminating the lucrative black-market premium and greatly reducing the financial resources of the drug cartels.

…read more

Source: CATO HEADLINES

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Military Spending Cuts No Reason to Compromise on Taxes

January 1, 1970 in Economics

In recent days, several senior Republicans have allowed that they
would be willing to compromise on a pledge they made to oppose tax
increases. At least one of those lawmakers, Senator Lindsey Graham,
has said that he would negotiate on “revenue generation” because he
is unwilling to let sequester budget
cuts
“destroy the United States military.” But Cato scholars
have long
argued
that the proposed cuts in military spending would allow
the United States to maintain a substantial margin of military
superiority, and would in fact
pay dividends
for the U.S. economy over the long run.

…read more

Source: CATO HEADLINES

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How Fossil Fuels Saved Humanity from Nature and Nature from Humanity

January 1, 1970 in Economics

Until the last quarter of a millennium, mankind depended on living nature for all its food and clothing, most of its energy, and much of its material and medicines. Then mankind began to develop technologies to augment or displace living nature’s uncertain bounty. In a new study, author Indur Goklany shows how fossil fuels not only saved humanity from nature’s whims, but nature from humanity’s demands.

…read more

Source: CATO HEADLINES

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Has the Fed Been a Failure?

January 1, 1970 in Economics

As the one hundredth birthday of the Federal Reserve System
approaches, it seems appropriate to once again take stock of our
monetary system. In the latest issue of Cato
Policy Report
, economists George Selgin, William D. Lastrapes,
and Lawrence H. White survey
the relevant research and
conclude
that the Federal Reserve System has not lived up to
its original promise. Also in this issue, new president John A. Allison shares his
thoughts on joining the Cato Institute
.

…read more

Source: CATO HEADLINES

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An Inexorable March to Legalization?

January 1, 1970 in Economics

With new laws legalizing marijuana use on the books in Colorado and Washington, everyone is waiting to
see how the Justice Department will react. Meanwhile, House
legislation has been introduced to get the feds to back off states
that pass legalization measures. A
new Cato study
and a forum
featuring the former DEA chief
examine where marijuana laws are
headed nationwide.

…read more

Source: CATO HEADLINES